Didn’t your parents ever tell you, not to talk to strangers?’
He had said, when I interrupted his reading and asked for some of his water. I was four, but I remember his smile, as he spoke, like yesterday. Of course I had been told so, but I was thirsty and dizzy, as if the very life was evaporating from my body.
But before I could answer, I collapsed. After that I only recall a bright light being shone through my forcefully opened eyelids, followed by a sharp stinging pain on the side of my chest, followed by the sweet taste of water through my throat.
As life returned to my body, I discovered myself lying on the same bench he had been sitting on, with a note under my head; which being a slow learner, I was unable to read.
Immediately, after I handed the note to my parents, I was rushed to the hospital and spent many days there. Apparently, I had a rare lung disease, which had caused air to be build up gradually in a cavity in my chest, enough at that point to collapse my lungs. Someone, apparently, had punctured a hole at my side, saving my life.
No one could find him. No one could tell me who he was. But all I can think about, sitting on this very bench, is that why he had been in such a hurry. And why I will never get to thank him.