Monday, March 3, 2008
"We have too many high sounding words and too few actions that correspond with them."
"Tell your husband that he can even give us everything he has, everything."
This Friday past, to my disbelief I found myself speaking to one of our less elusive neighbours.
I had returned from checking our post box and she raced downstairs to catch me before I was swallowed up again by the mouth of my apartment- such is how we live our isolated lives.
She, an African lady, held a piece of paper in her hands. Clearly she was anxious to relay an urgent message to me.
With my key halfway into the lock, I turned to greet her.
She explained that she was collecting items to send to the homeless and broken people in Kenya, the ones displaced as a result of the recent political crisis.
She begged me to seek out anything in my home that I could spare whether it be utensils, clothes or food. Even money, she added, would help.
She repeated over and over: anything, everything, anything.
Then she advised me, in fragmented but sincere English, that I ought to ask my husband as well- that he could give everything he had. Everything.
I liked that a lot, especially considering our most recent feeling toward material possessions.
I liked, too, that a message can somehow be as clear as a bell even within the awkward confines of a limited grasp on the language.
We two neighbours shook hands and introduced ourselves at long last. I smiled and assured the lady that I would do my best.
It is rare that I meet with such fervour and honesty, such directness. I am sure that desperation pushed her to talk to me, forced her to appeal so openly.
I meant those words: I would help her in any way possible.
Posted by Phyllis Hunt McGowan at 10:13 AM