by Richard Albertse, Republic of South Africa
It was Friday afternoon: time for hostel-goers to go to town. As a boy of 18, I was allowed to keep my bicycle at the hostel, and use it whenever I had permission to leave school grounds.
I was cycling down the main street, pedaling past the drugstore, when a man stepped out from behind a parked van right in front of me. I swerved, but clipped the man a glancing blow. He didn’t go down, and came off virtually unscathed.
I kissed the tar hard. My bike handles were bent and I had a deep, nasty cut above one eye. I was in shock. Blood was streaming down my face and into my eye, blurring my vision.
The pharmacist ran out, grabbed hold of me, and took me into the drugstore. Blood was dripping all over the carpet. He smacked something on the wound, parked my bike in the back room, and grabbed his car keys. I was ushered into his Mini Coupé and rushed to hospital.
The pharmacist waited for me. Eight stitches later, I was driven back to the drugstore and my bike.
I didn’t even ask his name.
The drugstore has long since disappeared, but I will always remember that compassionate man—the caring pharmacist.