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  • You must remember kindness, my grandmother told me, if I have taught you anything, then kindness is what you must hold onto, it will be the raft that will save you, the world can be full of predators, hatred, greed, selfishness, they are like the sharks that surround you in the wild sea, but you must hold on to kindness because in the end, this is the only thing worthy of you.

    These were among the last words my grandmother said to me before she departed, I remember how she gripped my hands, her skin was dry like rice paper, marked with sunspot and her voice was hesitant, barely audible, almost a whisper.

    And this kindness, it can appear in so many ways as my grandmother often reminded me. It can appear in the form of a Japanese man, a captain of a merchant ship, who saw a rickety fishing boat in the South China Seas, the boat in which my grandmother and the entire family had been drifting for weeks desperate for rescue. Instead of bypassing their boat, like so many other ships had done, instead of ignoring their SOS signal, how they would burn rags, black smoke curling up the sky, the captain of the ship stopped. He chose kindness.

    And this kindness also appeared in the form of a Vietnamese colonel whom my father encountered while trying to escape the Communist labor camp. Instead of reporting him to the camp guards and thereby condemning my father to death, the colonel chose to help him escape.

    And this kindness appeared again in the form of an American woman from the Church, a red-hair, big bosomy woman, who invited a family of refugees into her home for their first Thanksgiving, who obtained for them winter clothes, who helped these refugee find employment and permanent housing.

    And so I told my grandmother that day, I would promise to abide by her words.

    And now as the anniversary of her death approaches, I renew this vow.
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