When Lena found a friend in a blind elderly lady who was also homeless like her, she went out of her way to keep the old lady happy and well-fed. But when Lena lost that wonderful old friend, she finally discovered the woman’s shocking secret.
“Who said the dreams of those who sleep on tar can’t be made of gold?” Lena thought poetically as she lay on the cold pavement, looking up into the dull streetlight.
The girl smiled at her own shy attempt at poetry, but the smile quickly faded. She wished she had someone to share her love for poetry with.
Life had put her in several foster families, but none of them saw her as anything other than a problem child who was impossible to raise.
No wonder she ran away from all of them!
Lena knew the street was no place for poetry either – the world was too serious to even throw a glance at the 20-year-old homeless girl wasting away on the streets, let alone hear her thoughts on life.
But Lena preferred the streets. Sure, they were cold and scary, but so were people living in the richest of homes!
As her eyes grew heavy under the streetlight above her, Lena hugged her empty stomach and drifted to sleep.
Lena had a spot next to the bus stop right across from the public library. She liked knowing that everything she wanted to learn, everything she wanted to become, was within her reach.
The library was the one rainbow in the endless clouds of traumas her life had taken her through.
Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.
She had been visiting it every Sunday ever since she was a little girl. By now, she was a friendly face to the librarian, and the lady was kind enough to allow her to sit and read anything of her choice and even use the restroom.
The man who owned the old forgotten cafe next to the library was just as kind – although it was clear that his generous daily offer of a leftover sandwich had more to do with his infatuation with the helpless pretty girl.
Lena was managing to get by, but the loneliness was getting to her, tormenting her young heart every day. Until she spotted a new face on the streets. The lost old woman who shuffled around the neighborhood with a cane almost fainted from hunger, but Lena’s strong hands managed to break her fall just in time…
That’s when she noticed the old woman was blind.
“Water…water!” the old woman croaked, not having enough strength to use her voice.
Lena opened her backpack and helped the woman drink from a bottle of water. After several tiny sips, the elderly woman took a deep breath and smiled in Lena’s direction.
“Thank you so much, petal! I thought I was going to die!” she said, stretching her tired feet.
“Not today, ma’am,” Lena smiled, studying the woman to ensure she was okay.
“Please, call me Bev, short for Beverley. And you are…”
“I’m Lena. Lovely to meet you, Bev.”
There were a few seconds of silence between the two women. They didn’t know that life had put them together on that road for a reason. But one question would break the ice, and they would form the closest bond of their lives over the next several months.
“Would you like to have a sandwich?” Lena asked, jumping at the opportunity to have some company.
Bev paused in shock for a second. Tears rose in her cloudy eyes as she nodded and realized that no one had ever asked her that before. She traced the face of her savior with her wrinkled fingers and could tell she was young and beautiful.
From that day onwards, Lena and Bev found a silver lining in each other’s company. The world was the same indifferent place, but in all of humanity, they had found a soul who cared.
Lena would read her poetry to Bev, who began seeing the world through the girl’s eyes. Bev would often tear up and hug the young girl, overcome with the emotion in her words.
“You have a bright life ahead of you. I just know it!” Bev would say.
Lena was more than happy to care for Bev, even though the elderly woman was never very open about her personal life. It didn’t matter to Lena. All that mattered was she had a mother figure in her life again.
The only big challenge that Lena still struggled with was finding food. It wouldn’t be right on her part to take advantage of the cafe owner’s feelings toward her for the sake of more food. And almost every effort to appeal to the kindness of passers-by was in vain.
“Of course, I can let Bev have my lunch,” Lena thought to herself. “She looks awfully frail, and I can always manage to find leftovers around the neighborhood…”
And so, every afternoon, Lena would ask Bev to wait by the bus stop while she went to pick up lunch. She would return and hand over the sandwich straight to Bev. “What about your lunch?” the old lady had asked the first few times.
“Oh, I’ve got my own sandwich right here. It looks way better than yours, but don’t ask me to share!” Lena lied and laughed her hunger off. Later at night, when Bev was safely asleep, the girl would venture out, scrambling for leftovers to soothe her growling belly.
The heartwarming friendship between the two women was almost a year old. On a particularly bright Sunday afternoon, Lena was returning from the library when she noticed Bev having a serious conversation with a man in a suit.
He mostly listened, then walked away briskly.
“Clearly a gold digger, that one!” Lena joked about the man to Bev. Bev slapped the girl’s shoulder playfully and broke into laughter until she was left breathless.
Bev quickly composed herself and was still smiling when she hugged Lena and told her, “You are the daughter I never had! And you have a bright life ahead of you; don’t you forget that!”
Lena’s heart melted at that last hug from Bev. When she returned with the sandwich, she no longer had anyone to share it with. Bev had breathed her last on the streets that had become their home.
A week had gone by without Bev’s smile, and Lena found herself feverish with loneliness again. She was just about to cry her eyes out once more when she saw a familiar figure approaching her.
It was the man in the suit she had seen with Bev the day she died. “You…who are you? And why have you come here?” Lena asked, looking for someone to unleash her anger on.
“I was Ms. Beverley’s lawyer. The day I came to visit her, she signed her will that she rewrote a few months ago.”
Lena listened intently, although she couldn’t get over how a poor woman like Bev could have afforded such an expensive-looking lawyer.
“Ms. Beverley left everything – her mansion and all her wealth – exclusively to you. Here, this letter she dictated to me will tell you everything you need to know.”
Clueless, Lena opened the letter and began reading.
“Lena, my sweet poetess,
“Forgive me, I lied to you. I was homeless, I was alone, but I was never poor.”
“I have a family, though I wouldn’t call them that. My sons drove their blind old mother out of their lives years ago, right after my husband Jerry passed away.”
“Jerry left me with a world of wealth – but I knew soon enough that my children didn’t deserve a penny,” Lena’s heart grew troubled as she continued to read the letter, hearing the words in Bev’s voice.”
“Now that I’m gone, their hearts will break – not over losing their mother, but over losing a fortune. I’m sure they will come looking for you soon…”
“I’m not a cruel woman, Lena. I have a heart, but only you cared to love it.”
“I was blind, and yet, I knew you sacrificed your lunch for me and went hungry yourself. You had only fooled me on the first day!”
“Thank you for not abandoning me as my children did. I know how your heart must ache, how lonely you must feel. But know that I haven’t abandoned you, either.”
“Go running to that bright future that awaits you, my child!”
Lena couldn’t believe this poetic twist of fate. She was still wondering what to do with her ticket to a new life that her only friend had left her.
And sure enough, one day, Bev’s children showed up in luxury cars, in fake anguish and asking for Lena’s kindness.
But when Lena politely told them off and moved into the mansion that was gifted to her, she knew she was doing it for herself and for the woman who had changed her life.
What can we learn from this story?
- Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud. Lena wasn’t doing well herself when she bumped into Beverley, who had nothing, despite being secretly wealthy. Lena’s limited means didn’t stop her from being kind to the helpless blind woman, offering her food and companionship.
- The kindness you give will always come back to bless you in some form. Lena chose to go out of her way to help Beverley, who was homeless and blind. That kindness came back to change her life when she least expected it.