Cornflakes of Compassion

Cornflakes of CompassionHead buried between cradled knees, I sobbed rhythmically with the clacking India railway train. The Indian family sharing the tiny sleep cabin courteously ignored me.

Visions poured from my tears:

— A young girl pounding the side of the van and holding up a filthy, naked newborn pleading for money.

— Feeling inadequate to help the young boy begging on the train station whose enlarged cartoon-like rubbery foot disclosed his encephalitis.

Looking up, I saw the four-year-old singing to me with a thick Hindi accent: “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”

Arms outstretched, this Japalpur child offered me cornflakes — tiny cupped hands of compassion.

Janet Hommel Mangas is niece to 10 aunts and uncles, sibling to 6, aunt to 15, first cousin to 53. She sees life through the eyes of family — whether connected through blood or a connection of the human heart. 


Photo credit: Adam Cohn

5 Responses to “Cornflakes of Compassion”

  1. Archie Iyer says:

    I was just browsing through and the train caught my attention. I take that train everyday to work.

    Lovely piece you have written. It shows that sometimes, compassion comes unexpected, from strangers.

    • Janet L Hommel Mangas says:

      thank you. It was a lesson in unexpected compassion that has stayed with me.

  2. Atif says:

    It’s a smart, crispy and memorable piece of fiction. Very impressive of course.

    • Janet Hommel Mangas says:

      Thank you Tony and Atif for your kind response to my writing. Tony thank you for sharing that the last eight words will stay with you. And Atif, thank you for the highest compliment of mistaking my nonfiction words as fiction.

  3. Tony Press says:

    Powerful, all of it — but it is the final paragraph that will stay with me, and especially the last eight words.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *