Glimpses of Humanity
Glimpses of Humanity
I have never been keen to speak about my life and after a lot of hesitation I finally gathered the courage to share my thoughts. I was born and brought up in Kenya. I believe I am going to die here …no, no, not right now!… eventually. I am a Kenyan-Indian mum, not a very good mother, but I somehow struggle through. Allow me to tell you a short story of an incident I experienced.
A few months ago, I was walking down to the shops, in my own world and thoughts. Suddenly, I was aware of a screeching “Jambo! Jambo!” I looked to my right and across the road, was a little girl not more than 4 years old, waving at me and calling out to me. What an effort she must have put in, for she had been persistently calling me while I was vaguely aware of her cries. I waved back, smiled at her and walked on. She had accompanied her mother, a vegetable vendor, and was sitting on the rickety wooden stall, apparently her daily routine.
On my way back, I had bought a packet of biscuits for her and I stopped to speak to her. From that day, she became Njeri my friend and I was her “mthungu”. I would always greet her and couple of times I took her with me across the road to choose which biscuits or milk she would like from the shop. That made her feel so important. Little Martin, from the neighboring stall, also became part of “the gang”. I know that it wasn’t the goodies I would sometimes buy for the children that really counted. It was the fact that someone stopped to talk to them and took interest in the children that really touched their mothers.
One day, my daughter came along with me. She met Njeri and Martin. That day, the mothers reciprocated kindness for my daughter. They had nothing to give me but a sweet potato and matoke from their bare stalls. I was overwhelmed at this thoughtfulness. Their “akhlaaq”, which means manners or behavior, had a familiar warmth. In any part of the world, regardless of colour, ethnicity, religion or class, there is only one common bond that we share…our humanity.
How much do we forget our human connection? How many times have we just stopped to talk to a stranger? Smiled at them? Your neighbor… The lady in the IT department…. Your house help…The cashier at the supermarket? How interested are we in others’ lives? Are we so wrapped up in ourselves that nothing exists outside our little comfort zone? No time for just a hello… how’s your family?…Oh what’s that you are reading?
I decided I needed to share this incident, the friendship that little Njeri started, because today my maid said to me “I always pray for you, so much”. To me, I had done little other than to show a slight interest in her family, but in her mind, I made her feel special. I am only relating this because it got me thinking, how very little effort it requires to make another person feel valued.
If I can somehow, in all my confused trial and error parenting methods, leave one lesson for my children, I would like it to be empathy, a quality that my parents have so wonderfully demonstrated. Let us be interested in people around us. Let us touch the life of someone not directly connected to us, a person we may only meet for an hour, or someone we have seen almost every day. Let us make someone feel special, if even for just a moment. How do you know the effect it will have on them? And let us do it today.
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