The straw that will not break the back…

Many years ago, I was dragging myself home, my mind filled with dozens of worries. My ventures had failed and we were down to the last dollar…literally!

I bumped into a friend, an old classmate whom I had not seen since the 1960s. He was the Chinese boy with the scaly skin (Ichthyosis Vulgaris) whom most people in school shunned. It did not bother me and we became fast friends but lost touch after he moved (back then, no telephones or social media).

Heng greeted me with a wide smile and we even hugged. We were both in a rush and promised to keep in touch – but never did.

I still recall that fleeting encounter, his brimming smile and the joy in his eyes. Perhaps he was happy to see me but I think it was more to do with Heng – always a happy boy, now a happy man.

I could not fathom then but felt a great unburdening of my heart.

Years later, in a pensive moment, the thought occurred – an angel had touched me – in the form of my friend.



  1. I found you as Steph from ‘Certainly not lost down under’ nominated you for an award today. I always like to follow up recommendations from other bloggers and an delighted to have found your blog. This is a lovely post and I too believe that in the past, when I’ve really needed it an angel has popped into my life. Thank you – I enjoyed this post.

    1. Thank you Jacqueline, for your visit and comment.

      The Old Fella upstairs looks after us in so many ways. Unfortunately, some of us are so caught up whinging, we don’t recognise His hand on our shoulder.

      All good wishes, Eric

  2. Grieving with others indeed shows humanity. Last week 24 people, amongst them 16 children got killed in a car accident in a tunnel in Switzerland. It is really heart lifting to see all those people grieving, taking flowers or toys to a school or a bridge near the tunnel, even while they do not know anyone killed or injured in that crash. A post well timed.
    Love and hugs, Steph

    1. Dear Steph – yes, the news about that tragedy was all over the media here too. Tragic and sad.

      My posts are all scheduled days or even weeks ahead. But you’re right – it came well timed.

      Luv and hugz, Eric

    1. Thank you for your visit and compliment “Mr About” 🙂

      I visited and posted several comments in your blog > all ended up in spam. If you could check it out…

  3. Nice poem. I like the structure. The story really unfolds it powerfully. (I was reminded of the book by Christopher de Vrink THE POWER OF THE POWERLESS, the story of his older brother who lived 37 years in a bed upstairs in their home, yet who impacted his life enough for his story to impact people like Ronald Reagan.)

    You have a way with words that moves both to emotion and to action.

    Thanks for that unfelt gentle touch, the lifting off of a straw…


    1. A young man approached an old men burdened with bundles, barely able to shuffle along.

      “Old man I admire your resolve but you can barely walk, let alone reach your home. Here, let me remove a straw from your load, and another and another. Tell me when to stop.”

      The old man was surprised, “You ask not to carry my load but to remove a straw. Why is this so?”

      The young man replied, “You will know when I remove the straw.”

      After the first straw, the old man smiled. “It bent my back but now I am well. That straw I gladly lose and thank you for leaving me my dignity.”

      Most of us do not want hand-outs, but certainly need help with a straw…a smile might just do the trick. That ‘unfelt gentle touch’ as you say.

      Thank you, Ken, for your visit and kind words. People reading and commenting keep me going…All good wishes, Eric 🙂

  4. The last lines of your poem and anecdote…the best =)

    Your poem reminded me of this quote: “Friends are angels who lift our feet when our own wings have trouble remembering how to fly.”

    Take care,

  5. This is a wonderful post Eric. All too often we overlook these special moments and don’t recognize them for what they are–a gift! It makes me want to be more mindful as I go through my day and not take my encounters with others lightly. You never know about angels, do you? Let’s treat everyone as an angel…I really needed to hear this today. Thank you Eric!

    1. As far back as I can remember, after every encounter – good, bad, ordinary – I always reflect. It has helped me to better relish the event. Even an ordinary event can be much more – a version of the half empty cup. I am glad that I recognised this angelic visit. When I recounted this to others, their eyes light up > they’ve had similar experiences.

      As I always say – throw the pebbles and see it flutter out. (My apologies for using too many “I” words – it is poor writing style)

      Lets us all count our angels…our blessings.

      Peace, Eric

      1. please excuse a second reply–but do you know, when I have had such experiences, I want to keep that person near me–and make them my safety blanket or something. I wonder why? It’s as if I’m stronger and more sure with them ‘right there’. I must be needy. 🙂

      2. My dear friend, Jeannie – feel free to post as many comments as you wish. You are a very genuine person and I enjoy these exchanges.

        For many years, I felt like you – want to hang on. Upon reflection, two results: subsequent encounters proved disappointing (due to ‘my’ high expectations) and second, no matter how desperately I try, they slip out of my life. It hurts…I would rather recall them as I prefer to – as angels. Make belief? Perhaps, but hey, it is better to carry lovely memories than burdens, I reckon.

        Now, when people/angels enter my life, I treasure the moment and thank God. When they leave, I dust my shoes and keep walking (perhaps with a small pain but more joy)…convinced that when required, God will send another angel.

        I wonder whether you are ‘needy’ or simply recognise people’s worth – a mirror for your love and generous spirit. Reading you, I sense the trembling anxiety and love welling in you – for family, friends, and even strangers. It is a Gift and can also be daunting for us mortals. Shed tears if you wish, it would make you feel lighter. Trust in God (whoever your God is), all will turn out well. In this I believe, in this I am convinced 🙂

        Luv and hugz, Eric 🙂

      3. Yes, thank you for that Eric. That’s really the best and healthiest way to look at it. People do move on and maybe they don’t even know (if they’re angels they do!) the difference they have made.

        And, I think the other may be a gift from our heavenly Father after all and I haven’t recognized it (my husband said to tell you that you are right! 🙂 ) It’s beyond my understanding but 2 against 1 so I’ll accept yours and his perceptions as those who see with clearer eyes than my own. Thank you so much my friend. You enrich my life in so many ways. That too, is a gift.

        Hugs to you, Jeannie

  6. Well written, Mr. Alagan. Ray Davies of the Kinks has a song about a childhood friend Walter – whom he recalls with warmth and affection, a memory of the good old days, etc. But Walter is everyone implies Davies. And your friend and your feeling for him are also special in that way.

      1. No, dear friend, I have retrieved from ‘spam’! Lol. Thank you so very much for a lovely comment and for your visit. let’s keep in touch. Cheers.

    1. Dear Francina,

      I notice you landed both the Versatile and Beautiful awards > befitting you perfectly. Well done 🙂

      I accept your nomination and shall post it when time permits. Meanwhile, enjoy these wonderful recognitions from your fellow bloggers.

      Cheers, Eric 🙂

  7. Lovely poem Eric!! I think we have all encountered an angel sent at the exact moment we needed one, unfortunately many fail to realize it. Great post!

    1. Thank you Terri.

      You are so right about how many have encountered angels > this was the impetus for sharing this post. Hopefully more people would recognise such visitations.

      God bless, Eric

  8. I’ve felt that way many times. Someone from my past shows up in my life at just the right moment of time. I’ve learned to recognize it for what it is, a gentle reminder of something I forgot.

    1. That is lovely isn’t it – such visits by angels.

      It took me several years to recognise that first visit but now when it happens, I see much sooner…but you are right, we need to learn to recognise these events.

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