Friday morning as I was leaving home for work, my attention fell on a young African woman across the road leaning into the window of a maroon Camry, speaking to a neighbour. I have seen her before walking with her family, husband and two kids.
Today her baby toddler came running out onto the footpath calling for her Mother, only meters from the busy road.
My own mother’s keen sense alerted me as I came closer to the child, ready to protect if needed.
I turned to the Mother who was behind me, just to check that she had seen the child and had her attention back on the little one. I smiled and I said “Hello”, though conscious not to startle her, I know what it is like to be freaked out by a stranger.
“Oh they get away from you so quickly when you turn around for a short time”, the Mother said.
She had a precise intonation of English and what sounded like a Sierre Leone accent.
What struck me was the sleeve of her right arm was pinned to her shoulder. She bent down to pick up her child, with her left arm and I had not noticed that the right one was missing. She apologetically turned her back and scooped up the child effortlessly. I felt this urge to help, but stopped my ego. My throat a cage of thorns, raspy, caught, my breath stuck.
She smiled like brilliance as she came closer, scars etched in her face, “You have a great day!” she said with generous authenticity. A gift.
“Thank you”, I said “U 2”, was all I could manage returning the smile, turning quickly for I did not want her to see my tears to disrupt the beauty of the smile reflected back to me. My tears in vain for what I often complain about, the things I take for granted, hit me as petty, irrational silly stuff!
A lesson, a reminder to appreciate and embrace the little, simple things and hold them, because I can hold them.