Ramadan Lessons on Love 

Perhaps it’s an inevitable phase of being a twenty-something young adult where the subject of love, (whether romantic, platonic or otherwise) embarrassingly becomes a pressing issue in your life. 
A friend and I were walking through the streets of London after we’d broken our fast, and we were talking about love; the romantic Hollywoodesque kind; the kind between family and friends; between strangers; love in all its manifestations. I’m making it sound slightly philosophical, but we had the chick-flick style conversation on relationships too, rest assured. 
Maybe it’s the night which places a veil on some of us in the form of darkness, all the while lifting it on others who see things under a new lens. Maybe it’s the 18 hour fast which finally got to our heads, that we decided to talk about this topic. But “love” however you might define it, which never usually features in our day-to-day conversations, was the primary topic of our conversation when we stumbled across a homeless man on the streets. 
As we walked through an immaculate stone archway next to The Ritz, with its glimmering lights and iron-guilded railings, this homeless man in an old Irish rubgy shirt asked me for some change. I apologised to him and said I didn’t have any. Now keep in mind he wasn’t even in earshot when my friend and I were talking away. But he looked up straight at me and said simply: “I don’t need your change. Honestly, I just want some love. I just need a bit of love.” 
He wasn’t drunk at all. Had he been, I would have smelled the alcohol from a mile away. He was genuine, and his voice was slow, hoarse and passionate as he spoke. 
I was so moved by what he said. So I replied (maybe a bit too enthusiastically because I’m one of those who gets moved so easily): “Go on then, let me give you some love. The innocent kind mind you!” 
So he took his jacket off, scrambled up, walked towards me and hugged me. He walked up to my friend and hugged her as well; a small, tight embrace. You could feel his bones jutting out under what little flesh he had covering his body. 
Two security guards standing next to the entrance of the hotel were looking on pretty confused as to why two random hijabis were hugging a homeless man. But the homeless man’s expression was priceless; he could have jumped over the pearly moon that was floating in the night sky that evening.
I can hear some of you cynics already. “Maybe he was a pervert who just wanted to hug two women”, right? 
But I think it’s good to keep in mind, a small gesture of kindness, whether physical or not, fleeting or lasting, can make more leaps and bounds in bridging two strangers together than a few empty words harping on about “love” ever could. 
We were talking about love, my friend and I. The textbook kind of love based on limited experience, through the people we love and have loved, and the kind of love (dare I say) experienced vicariously through Tom Hanks rom-coms. But we didn’t expect to get a practical lesson on love then and there. 
Sometimes, it’s all about the simple gestures, (like a hug believe it or not!) that really send ripples through people’s hearts.


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