The Kind Granny Hopbobbin
Life is hard for those of us who were not blessed with wealth or loving environments by birth. It has always been. I am one of those unfortunate neopets and I used to wander around Neopia Central day after day, always depending on the generosity of others to get my daily meals. It was not the kind of life many of us would like to have, but it was also all I've knew. That was my reality since I was just a small Aisha and, even if it was not comfortable not easy, I had learnt to roll with it.
That was until I've met Granny Hopbobbin on a certain winter evening. I was sit near the General Store, waiting for a kind soul to pay me a coffee or maybe cheese and crackers. She walked slowly into the store and at first, I didn't pay her much attention. That was until she came out of the store and called for me in her soft and low voice:
"Hey, you!" she called; I turned to face her and she had a soft smile on her face.
"Me?" That's all I could manage to say.
"Yes, you. Come here. I've got something for you," she told me just before getting in the store again.
I was taken by surprise. I mean, of course from time to time one especially kind neopet would came around and pay me a meal, but I never was invited into a store, probable because me with my worn and dirty clothes was not really the favourite type of customer of any salesperson. But then again, something in her smile told me since from the beginning told me that that old Acara was not just another kind neopet, so I headed into the store.
"Uh, hello," I said awkwardly while entering the building. Both the salesman and the kind old Acara turned to me.
"So you really came in," the Acara noticed.
"Uh, you... invited me?" I was confused for a minute. She invited me in, didn't she?
"Yes, indeed. I am really used to invite neopets in need into stores and maybe help them, but most of you tend to feel a tad ashamed to actually get into the stores. And you shouldn't. I would never invite any of you into a store which the owner is not a nice neopet.
I shrugged. "One can never know."
She smiled. "I guess you're right. Now... would you like something to eat?"
I was ashamed at how fast my response was, but then again, I was famished. Two cups of coffee later I was way more inclined to actually hold real conversations.
Two cups of coffee and marshmallows later I was finally able to hold real conversations.
"So tell me dear: what's your name?" Granny then asked me.
"My name is Daia." My voice came out as barely a whisper. I was not used to people trying to talk to me; most of them would just look at me and pretend I didn't exist. Some of them would give me some money but even those people wouldn't talk to me for long. This is something completely new to me.
"Nice to meet you, Daia. I'm Granny Hopbobbin." We shook hands quickly. "So tell me, Daia... For how long are you around? On the streets, I mean? You look quite young..."
"I am young," I replied. "And I guess I'm on the streets since I was born, you know? That's the only life I've ever had."
"I see," the old Acara said, finger tapping the table.
"By the way, I'm really thankful. For the food and for the conversation. You're a blessed soul."
She smiled. "I'm not blessed, I just care."
"I guess I better be going now, don't you think? I don't want to take more of your time."
"Don't mind it, dear, it's fine," the Acara said. "In fact, I wanted to tell you about the Charity Corner."
"Sorry, the what?" I frowned.
"The Charity Corner," she said. "It's something I'm starting out this winter and that I intend to keep doing every other winter holiday for the rest of my life. That's if, people help me by donating."
"Is it some kind of... shelter?" I was still confused.
"Not really. It is like... the Money Tree. But, rather than just putting things around and letting the faster people to get everything, and sometimes even ghosts, I intend to donate everything I get to neopets in need," Granny Hopbobbin told me slowly and I was speechless. She was, indeed, not just another kind neopet around Neopia. At this point I was sure she was some kind for benevolent faerie or maybe a angel...
"This is... This is... incredible," I managed to stutter.
"I'm glad you like the idea. We are mainly looking for toy donations, because you know, the Day of Giving is coming and kids deserve to get presents, but there will be foods and even clothes if we are lucky. I need to go now, since it's almost 7 PM and I need to get back gathering donated items, but If you're in need of anything, please don't hesitate to stop by the Charity Corner and ask to talk to me. I can help. I am here for you."
"Are you a angel?" I babbled.
"No, dear, I'm just real as you. As I said, all I do is to care enough about other neopets to actually do something." She smiled while tapping softly on my left shoulder. She then turned to the salesman and said: "Now, let me pay you, mister, for your delicious cups of coffee and then I must go."
The meal was paid. She even gave me some bread and a milk box for me to eat later. She waved me goodbye, told me to stay warm and we parted ways. There was this warm feeling on my chest, that one that was not really common for me and that I could not really explain, but that made me smile widely even in that cold night. That old Acara cared about me and because of that, I let myself to feel hope once more.
Being hopeful may be dangerous when you live a life like the one I grew up into but, at least for that night, I didn't mind it at all.
The morning after, I told myself that Granny Hopbobbin has already helped me enough and that I shouldn't pass by the Charity Corner but, at the end of the day, I couldn't help but ask some random neopet I found on the streets for the directions for the Charity Corner. After walking fifteen minutes, there I was: in front of Granny Hopbobbin's Charity Corner. As I was way ashamed to get into there, I decided to take a sneak peek into the building. I walked to the first window I saw and leant on its window sill.
Inside there was... stunning, for sure. It was filled with seasonal decorations and donated items of all sorts. They were certainly mostly toys but there were also some books, clothes and other kind of things. There was a decorated tree covered in letters from people from all across Neopia and under it there were already hundreds of presents. There were some people inside, holding things they're most likely about to donate. The place was stunning, and even though I wished I could go in, I couldn't bring myself to do it.
"Hey, you." Someone called me and I could only wish it was Granny. She would make me go inside and I wouldn't have to deal with my petrifying shame of going into buildings. I grew up thinking buildings were not places for people like me and even now every time I tried going into one I couldn't help but feel nervous. "Interested in coming in?"
But that was not Granny; she was a young Aisha, a young Aisha who was probably at the same age I was. She could be like me and I could be like her, but we had nothing to do with each other. I didn't know her name and I could bet she didn't care about my name.
"Not really," I replied. "I was just passing by and got curious."
She shrugged and I took that as my chance to run away. I haven't seen Granny since that night, when I saw her gathering donations for neopets in need in her Charity Corner. And even though that was some time ago I couldn't get myself to forget about her soft and low voice or her kind smile...