A moving article – A must read
We are not reading from God’s Word today. We’re reading His children living His Word (or rather not). Translation of a moving column that originally appeared in Rapport by Sonja Loots: If only we could see
This column is for Nontyatyambo, Olwethu and Slindokuhle. For Anesipho, Lutho, Gadija and all the other youngsters at the Athlone School for the Blind who I met briefly last week.
While the headlines kept on screaming relentlessly about hate and intolerance, you were a beautiful example of doing things completely differently.
I saw you continuously touching one another: to be reassured, but also to reassure one another.
I marvelled at how well you listened and how finely attuned you were to one another’s needs and emotions.
You give me hope.
I wish everyone in this country could look after one another as well as you do amongst yourselves. If only we could welcome strangers with the same trust that you welcomed me, simply because I accompanied the drummer who came to give you a drumming session.
This column is also for Mandy, Sandy and Randy, or whatever your names are. The three Stellenbosch students who were having a good kuier on Bohemia’s stoep Thursday lunch time – you who didn’t interrupt your empty chat for one moment when an elderly man fell down right next to you on the sidewalk.
You three girls with your long, shiny hair and Marlboros and white wine – so totally relaxed in the warm sun and so frighteningly indifferent.
You make me despair.
This column is for myself, who was so speechless at your blindness that I failed to give you a piece of my mind, you stupid little sluts.
Once again I was reminded that in this country cruelty and a lack of empathy were unpredictable and had many faces. Again I was frightened at how young people unerringly repeat the mistakes of past generations.
This column is for the elderly man in his smart, but threadbare clothes who in his disorientation called weakly to a worker on the other side of the street for help. Rather a sweaty worker who was unloading heavy beer crates across the street than the lazy, white spoilt brats drinking hardly an arm’s length away from him, because he instinctively knew where he would not be getting any help.
Sir, that gesture of you broke my heart.
By the way, this column is also for the out-of-breath worker who left everything and quickly ran across to help. That brings a measure of comfort.
But above all, it is for the bent old man who thanked me too heartily because I simply walked closer to help him up. Who, when I picked up the lunchbox that his wife had packed for him and handed it back to him, told me that he had flu and was, therefore, feeling feverish and dizzy. It’s for him, because then he called me “madam”.
Sir, it is that word that makes me ashamed.
So ashamed that I did not even ask your name. I hope you’re feeling better.
(Sonja lectures at the University of Cape Town and is the author of the novels Spoor (1995) and won an award for Sirkusboere in 2012)
Are you like the blind?
Or the students?
Or the worker?
Lord, my God! May I never look away from the need of another. Help me to see with your eyes! Amen