Kittie Howard

Monday, November 21, 2011

An African Moment; Taking a Few Days Off

Some years ago, my husband's job took us to Nairobi, Kenya, for three years.

Then, as now, Kenya possess gorgeous scenery, amazing wildlife, and probably some of the politest people in the world.  While walking down one of Nairobi's sleek street's, the slightest bump elicits an immediate poll (sorry).  Relatives and close friends do not enter a home without first asking, "Hodi"?  (May I enter?)

A few years after our return to the States, we lived in Honolulu, Hawaii.  After the Honolulu Marathon, I crossed a patch of Kapiolani Park to get something from the car my husband requested.  He'd completed the Marathon in a pleasing time and, along with other ripped marathoners, rested beneath a nearby tree.

En route, I heard Kiswahili being spoken near a bus.  I'd learned a smattering in Kenya and understood them. I dipped my head so the Kenyans wouldn't think I was eavesdropping. As I did so, another Kenyan rounded the bus and bumped into me.  When he apologized (poll), I automatically said, "Hakuna matata."  (There's no problem.)

Surprised, but delighted, the Kenyans and I talked for about 10 minutes, in Kiswahili and English.  (Most Kenyans speak four languages.)  I then went to the car, and, when I passed the bus, exchanged waves and smiles with the Kenyans, as I walked toward my husband's group.  Jaws littered the ground.  I had been talking with some of the rock stars in the world of marathons.  One marathoner had broken a record that day.

Now, like the U.S. and other countries, Kenya possess social and economic problems.  The story I'm going to share could have taken place anywhere in the world.  But it transpired in Kenya and became a forever memory.

When the time came to pack-out for our return to the United States, I couldn't find a matching green sandal, not an extraordinary event, as a shoe goes missing now and then.  When an African friend saw the lone survivor on a shelf of ad hoc items, she asked, "What are you going to do with this shoe?"

"I don't know."

She removed the shoe from the shelf and held it.  "May I have it?"

"Yes, of course."

She squished her ten toes in her flip flops and said, "I know a mama (woman) with one leg who would be happy with this shoe.  Green is her favorite color."  When my friend's eyes met mine, she said, "There is always one who is worse off."

 * * * * *

This - and every Thanksgiving - I'm grateful for all that I have, from ten toes to ten fingers.  I'd like to whine about some bug going around that knocked me for a loop, but I am grateful it's not worse.  I'd like to whine that my hub returns very late Thanksgiving Day, and not the day before, from a six-week business trip and two long-haul flights, but I'm grateful he will be here.  I'm grateful the Boy Scouts held a food drive to which I was able to contribute (and hear from the Scoutmaster that, unlike last year, an enormous number of people were contributing.)

In my heart of hearts, I'm sad so many will go without this Thanksgiving Day (or any day, for that matter) and wish I had a magic wand for so much.  But, like rock star athletes who weren't too important to talk with a passer-by, I hope and pray those in positions of power everywhere will take the time to talk and to listen to those around them.  I am grateful I live in a world where communication is possible.  I'd like to be grateful communication actually worked.

From our house to yours, Happy Thanksgiving.

(When I realized this bug wouldn't let me get around to visit you, I decided I needed to turn off the computer and rest up a few days.  Hope you are well. See ya next week! XOXO Kittie)

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