Monday, January 12, 2015

Two strangers - a Muslim and a Jew - embrace on a cold dark street

On Saturday I was walking home in the pitch dark with my two young kids. Being South African, I'm naturally security conscious. I ran through my self defense training; my adrenaline was slightly spiked; I constantly scanned around me. Where I grew up, walking alone in the dark is just not done - and for good reason.

Outside one house I spotted some unusual objects that I could barely make out in the dark. "Mum, what are you looking at? We're freezing!" My boys urged me to walk on. I stalled and saw that it was a miniature grand piano; a tiny desk and chair; a doll's pushchair. Feeling suspicious, I picked up my pace and we carried on walking. But something inside me has changed lately and I'm no longer able to walk away when I smell magic. I turned on my heel and marched back. "Muuum, c'mon!" said my boys. I lifted up the piano and yelled "thank you" towards the house. A woman came outside.

I felt awkward. Maybe she was intending to load the stuff into her car! Maybe she thinks I am stealing! Maybe she will feel sorry for me for picking things up off the street!
"Are you sure you want to give these away?" I asked. "I can see they're valuable, you'd get a lot of money for them on eBay."
"You want them?", she asked excitedly in a thick Arabic accent. "Please, take! Take it all! Thank you so much for taking it. It's really just in the way!"
"I would love to take the piano. Are you sure you don't want to sell it?"
"No, please take it! My children don't want it anymore".
"Thank you so much!" I replied excitedly. "Can I give you a hug?".

One of my favourite songs is "Through Heaven's Eyes" from the movie, The Prince of Egypt. That night, if you had looked down from heaven's eyes, you'd have seen two strangers - a Muslim and a Jew - embracing on a cold dark street. And that is the stuff that never makes the news.

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