• The English Translator

The generosity of strangers


I will never know what she said. And it never really mattered. But her actions that day remain with me to this day. A single act of kindness that touched my soul.


Thirty-eight years ago, the customary blue skies above Athens roiled with angry, black clouds. The air was thick and humid but we - safely cocooned in our honeymoon bliss - were oblivious to mere mortal aggravations.


Young and in love, we set out to catch the bus taking us into the city to soak up the sights, sounds and sensations of the Greek capital. Little did we know but the region was about to be hit by one of the heaviest thunderstorms to have visited in years. Looking back, the power cut that ended with the arrival of the local priest who blessed the hotel and banished any unholy spirits should have acted as a warning. But no, filled with our bright and shining happiness we felt protected and secure.

No sooner had we reached the end of the lane than it came as those who are wiser (and perhaps less besotted) knew it would. The storm hit us like a truck, preventing us from moving, rooting us to the spot. We had no choice than to let it.


Our knight in shining armour was bright blue and we stepped inside thankful to be rescued from the torrent that seemed to have taken on a life of its own. Standing there, shivering and penned in from the mass of people inside, the rain slid down my face, droplets hung from my fringe. My arms were pressed tightly around my body trying to rub some warmth into my frozen limbs when gently, hesitantly, the lady in front of me leant forward and mopped the water from my face. She looked into my eyes and spoke to me, her compassion and eagerness to help plain.


Somehow, through the secret language of foreigners and natives, she discovered where we were heading. Calling out, she instructed the bus driver to drive as close as he could to our destination allowing us to stay dry for as long as possible. As we alighted, the whole bus waved us goodbye, and we entered the city having experienced the generosity of strangers.


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