“What do you need from me?”

I put down my phone when I figured that my lola (grandmother) wasn’t going to pick up after a few rings. I wanted to hear from her, after over two months of silence. So I left her a message, “Call me when you can.”

A few seconds later, she replies, “Now.” On cue, my phone rings.

“Hello?” I say as I pick up the phone.

“Yes, Sammy.”

“Hi, lola!!!!” I greeted.

“What do you need from me?” she asked.


“Why did you call me? What do you need?” she repeated herself.

I spent most of my life watching this woman serve people. I still clearly remember the nights I spent sleeping in my grandparents’ bed when I was much younger. The radio, turned down to a hushed level, but would be sounding all night with conversations and reports from the village guards. I eventually got used to the radio’s sounds and learned to fall asleep despite them.

But there were nights, every so often, when I would hear her wake up all alert and intense, speaking to the guards on the other line. I already knew what this meant as I felt her, after several minutes, get up from bed. Soon, I would hear the village’s patrol van outside, waiting for her. And when it drove off, I knew that my lola, already dressed for action, would be on it. My lolo (grandfather) was so used to this, that he slept soundly through the night.

This small lady was so used to people approaching her for help, calling her in the middle of the day or at the most ungodly of hours, disrupting whatever she was doing—and she would drop everything just to help that person.

“Nothing,” I replied. “I don’t need anything… Had no agenda really, I just wanted to talk to you and see how you’re doing.”

And just like that, her tone shifted and was replaced with a mix of surprise, warmth, and softness in her voice. “Ohhh… okay…?”

We spoke about what she’s been up to for a couple of minutes. She didn’t really have an update for me, but I left the conversation overjoyed from hearing her voice.

A passing thought came to mind. What would the world look like if more of these kinds of conversations happened today?

One that came without an agenda or an idea to push forward.
One that didn’t need to rush into a decision or a statement, but just genuinely wanted to connect with the other person.
One that didn’t need any new update, lesson, or revelation to bring about the purpose of the call.

What would the world look like today if we learned to shift the purpose of our conversations into one that just sought to listen and empathize with the other person?

In the end, this—in all its simplicity—became one of the most meaningful phone calls I’ve had in the last few weeks.

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