Short Story Contest - Contestant: Ali Adil

Have you ever faced an experience that profoundly changed the way you perceived the world and our global community? Most experiences that change an individual’s perception happen to be a situation that they have gone through or learned from. My particular experience is an experience that truly opened my eyes and that made me appreciate my possessions in my everyday life; the day I witnessed how fortunate I was. 

It was a sunny afternoon as the scorching sun shone upon me while I stood outside of the King Khaled International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. My dad was on a business trip so my family decided to visit our Aunt living in Saudi Arabia. Despite visiting my aunt, I wasn’t so excited about this trip, but little did I know I was about to face a truly mind-blowing and unforgettable experience. I was completely exhausted by travelling 10,738 kilometres and while arriving in Saudi Arabia, I realized how strict the laws and customs were of this place! 

“Mom?” I asked, drained and irritated from the tropical heat. 

“How long will it take for our ride to come?” 

“Just a few more minutes,” she replied, tiredly. 

At the thought of that, I aggressively sighed. Waiting for the next few minutes felt as if time had just stopped ticking! Eventually, after waiting a few more minutes, our ride came just around the corner. As we got in, the driver loaded the luggage into the car and before I knew it, I was fast asleep. When I woke up, half an hour had passed as the sun was setting across the horizon painting the sky shades of red and pink, casting its golden rays down upon the clouds. 

As we passed by a few roads, I noticed several people spending the dark yet the chilly night on roads, homeless with no shelter to protect them, starving to death with lack of food and care. We passed by a mother sitting on the corner of a street holding young children varying from ages 2 to 3 in her rough and wrinkled hands trying to calm them down as they constantly wept and cried. We rode further on and saw young children peering into waste in search of something. 

“Strange,” I said. “Why are they looking into garbage cans, did they lose something?” I asked with a puzzled expression across my face. 

“They’re looking for food,” my dad said dishearteningly. 

I was shaken and felt extremely nauseated by what I had witnessed. It brought me to shock to see people living in such poor conditions and I felt the eagerness and urge to help them. 

Feeling regret and sadness of what I had just beheld, we had finally arrived at our Aunt’s house. We greeted my aunt with a warm welcome and unpacked our things. 

The next morning, I peered through a window, disheartened by the sight before my eyes, I saw young children in makeshift clothes made from rags who looked as if they had spent the night on

the streets. They looked so fragile, so frail as if they would fall and break into a million pieces at the slightest touch. Trying to ignore their outstretched arms, I headed towards the bathroom, bewildered of looking at those filthy children. 

I felt an awful feeling that would not escape me. It was a mixture of guilt and sadness. I felt guilty for all that I had, sadness at seeing people living in such poor conditions. and drop the children to a shelter for the homeless and in need where they would be looked after properly. 

After one week, our flight departure was at 7:00 pm. When I glance back at this experience, I realize that it was truly eye-opening. However, this experience also altered and changed my mindset as I witnessed many things that startled me, but most importantly taught me the value of gratitude. Before leaving, my parents donated money to the woman and her children, enough to bring a smile on her face. They also gave charity to organizations and people that are unfortunate, frequently throughout our trip. 

In addition, I started realizing the daily possessions I have and that are available to me while some people are struggling to make ends meet for simple necessities, which I take for granted. I think this trip was a powerful and rewarding experience as it changed the way I viewed the world. 

Lastly, this experience taught me the simplicity of living and 20 years from now, I will always remember to be grateful and value the possessions and luxuries I have in my everyday life instead of looking at what I don’t have. Beneath my story lies a powerful message as the value of our possessions is zero at the end of life and I urge you to donate and help those less fortunate than you as not only would it make help make a difference but in fact it would brighten your day since “Your greatness is not what you have, it’s what you give.”