“Hope for everyone”? “A loving home for every child”? “Home is where the…”?

I was staring at the clichéd words on the sheet of paper before me when I first sensed her. I had promised to help Crayola with the branding and publicity campaign she’d embarked on for Shelter, a small home caring for orphaned children infected with H.I.V. And on a sheet of paper colourful options for logos sketched upon it, I was doodling potentials for a suitable tag line; hoping to come up with something that was relevant, heart-warming and not hackneyed.

I think it was her sweet-smelling perfume as she approached that I picked up on first. I casually glanced upwards with a curious smile only to have her beam back at me with her wide grin and big, lively eyes. As I returned to my doodling, I unconsciously hoped that she would make her way through the crowd to the vacant seat beside me.

“What about, ‘A home for hope’?,” asked a lovely voice interrupting my thought. I had been too engrossed in my scribbling—I really thought I was getting somewhere—to notice her make her way through and sit down beside me. She’d glanced over and gathered what I was doing; and now she was trying to help.

Soon, we were giggling and going through one cheesy phrase after another. When it was obvious we were actively playing with hackneyed phrases just for gag value, we gave up. I folded the heavily-scribbled piece of paper and the lively conversation turned to other things—who we were, what we wanted out of our lives, where we were along those journeys… It was fascinating, and most unexpected. Here I was, talking to someone I’d just met and baring some of my deepest thoughts and opinions. The fact that she had an interesting point of view on just about everything made the affair heavenly.

The minutes spent in the rush-hour traffic had whizzed by, and we’d reached her stop. She grabbed that piece of paper from me and somehow found enough room on it to jot down her phone number—telling me she didn’t want this to end and would love for it to continue. By now, the bus driver was becoming impatient waiting for her to get off. When she hurriedly returned the sheet to me, I didn’t bother looking through it for space to put down my own number. I just got off the bus with her, hand-in-hand. I didn’t intend on letting her go anywhere.

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