Hector never forgot his classmates’ kindness in sharing food with him when he was a young boy. So when he grew up and became rich, he decided to find them and return the kindness. Separated by miles, cities, and backgrounds now, would he succeed in his endeavor?

You must’ve visited one of those pretty cozy cafes with beautiful, fancy lights and the lovely aroma of caffeine and pastries and cakes and all kinds of bakes!

No, my life wasn’t about the beauty of the cafe. Umm… how do I tell you exactly what it was like?

Okay, have you ever noticed the lonely employee mopping the floors and cleaning the windows there? That person who cleans the dirt off the floor? That person who can’t afford the cakes and pastries and those bakes?

Well, that’s who my dad was. He worked at a small cafe as a cleaner, which didn’t bring in enough money. My mom worked as a maid, which didn’t bring in enough money either. So I had a poor, sad childhood…

When I was a little boy, my family didn’t have much. Mom and Dad could initially afford three meals a day and my school lunch, but that changed after Dad had a stroke. He was unable to work, so Mom became the family breadwinner.

I felt terrible about my family’s situation, so I told Mom I’d lend her a hand and stop going to school until Dad could work. But Mom refused.

“If you want to help us, Hector,” she said, “don’t give up on school. Right now, that’s the only thing that can change your fate and our fate as well.”

Pain and miseries and challenges—they’re all a part of life. You may hate them, but they make us stronger.

I was missing out on many things my peers had—expensive toys, gadgets, nice shoes, and new clothes—but that didn’t hurt me. What hurt me was that while everyone else was eating lunch at school, I would sit in the playground, clutching my stomach and crying.

“It’s ok!” I would assure myself. “I’m not hungry!”

Mom’s pay alone wasn’t enough to manage our household bills, and she stopped giving me lunch. We didn’t even eat three meals a day. We skipped breakfast most days and only ate lunch and dinner.

Before this, Mom would occasionally pack me a banana, which I remember throwing away once because I was sick of eating bananas every day! Now that I didn’t have food, I regretted doing it. I did.

One day, I left class during lunch break and went to my usual spot in the playground where I always sat and saw an unattended lunch box there. “Delicious!” read the note next to it.

I looked around, thinking someone had left it there by accident, but there was no one around. I was hungry, so I opened the box, and there was a delicious tuna sandwich and a cookie inside.

I know what I did next was wrong, but I ran away with the sandwich and cookie, leaving the empty box behind. I hid somewhere and gobbled the food down, and it was so… yummy!

I felt bad about eating someone else’s lunch, but I was starving. “I’m sorry,” I said quietly, thinking the lunchbox wasn’t for me.

But the next day, the box was there again, and it was again there the next day. I ate from it one more time, but then I stopped. Why? Because it seemed like the wrong thing to do.

Then, one day, as I was about to leave the classroom for the playground, my entire class surrounded me.

“What’s wrong, guys?” I asked, confused.

“Hector, why did you stop eating from the lunchbox?” my friend Tom asked me. “Everyone saves food for you!”

“You guys left the box?” I asked in tears. “Why?”

“We didn’t want to hurt you,” said my classmate, Stacey. “We know you are hungry, and you cry and… I told Mommy to pack me more food so I could give it to you. We didn’t want to tell you we were helping you because Mommy said we needed to protect your dignity. I don’t know what dignity is, but Mommy is always right…”

This was… I don’t know how many years ago. Yes, they protected my dignity, so they offered me food without pointing out that I was poor and needy and couldn’t afford lunch. Can you believe a bunch of little kids did that for a classmate? In this crazy world, it’s difficult to believe that, but my classmates did that for me.

Hi, I’m Hector, and this is my story. Long short story, I escaped poverty somehow and became a businessman. I now have everything I could have never imagined as a child, but something was still missing. Something in my heart told me that I had to repay the kindness shown to me by my classmates. So I decided to find them.

Mr. Scotliff, my secretary, was extremely helpful, and I learned about some of my classmates who lived in the same city as me. I paid them a visit and invited them to a get-together at my house. However, some had moved to different countries, states, and cities, and I couldn’t contact them.

When my classmates visited me, they all shared their stories, and I realized how much pain and suffering remained in their lives—some had lost their beloved better halves, others were struggling with their children’s education, and others were struggling financially.

Seeing them in such pain bothered me, and I decided to repay their kindness by assisting them. After all, it was THEM and THEIR efforts that made me realize that the world is not as harsh and depressing as we believe.

But you know what? While we all enjoyed a barbecue that day in my backyard, sharing our happy, sad, tragic, and merry stories, I realized something. Pain and miseries and challenges—they’re all a part of life. You may hate them, but they make you stronger, and without them, you won’t be able to feel true happiness.

Do you agree with that? I’m not a pessimist wishing you something terrible, but can we be happy if we’ve never known what sadness feels like? Can we rejoice in the good when there is no evil to be defeated? Do we all agree that life has its ups and downs?

Tell us what you think and share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.

If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about a rich woman who forbade her daughter from sharing lunch with a beggar and his two dogs until they saved the little girl’s life.

 

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