I was wandering in the country, when I met an aged man.
And it seemed that he was starving, so I offered him some rice.
He sat down then to eat it, and he ate it very slowly.
Each grain of rice, he savored, as he put it in his mouth.
I watched him as he sat there, but I felt that I would cry,
So I moved away and circled – and when I had returned,
I saw that he had eaten only part of what I'd given,
Which itself was but a smidgen, as I hadn't much myself.
And I saw that he was wrapping, in a leaf, what he had left.
So I asked him, was he saving it for eating later or
Was there someone, who was waiting, whom he'd saved a portion for.
But he only smiled and nodded, for his language wasn't mine,
And I watched him as he hobbled down a dusty country path.
I was hungry, so I settled down and ate my rice myself,
With a bit of precious lentils that I'd salted – and a pickle.
And I felt that I was guilty as I'd only given rice
To that aged man who seemed not to have eaten for a while.
And as I sat there eating, I remembered still his smile.
I sipped then on the water, that I'd carried in a bottle,
And I rose and walked to westwards, towards a village that I knew.
And I saw the sun was sinking – and my heart was sinking too.
For the stores I had were dwindling – and my stores by then were few.
But that aged man was walking, as I walked, within my mind.
And I saw that he was smiling, for that little bit of rice.