A Simple Smile

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"Merudh, get up, get up!" It was four in the morning, and I was four years old. The heart-pounding sound of my dad's voice woke me out of a deep sleep. As I peeked through my bedroom door, I saw my father bolt out of our house with my mother in his arms. Before I knew it, he was back. Although I was terrified of where he might take me, he picked me up and carried me to the car. He frantically adjusted the seats in our two-passenger Nissan Sentra, trying to cram me in. I watched my mother taking long, deep breaths, as though someone had turned off her oxygen supply. With no time to entertain my fear, I dashed back to the house in search of my Fisher-Price Doctor's Kit. I found it underneath my bed, and rushed back to the car. Taking out a yellow, plastic stethoscope and a plastic band-aid, I ran to the passenger side. "Where do you feel hurt, mommy?" She smiled at me. I didn't know it yet, but I was about to become a big brother. Even though I could do nothing to take away her pain, my mother's heartwarming smile was a big, unmistakable "thank you". Who could have known that such a simple expression would guide me for the rest of my life?

A few summers ago, I persuaded my Uncle...

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