I was already late for the meeting, so I had to leave in a rush. Calls were making my phone sing Sami Yusuf’s tone of his new ‘Opera Dawn’. To add salt to injury, the elevator had stopped working. The lacuna from the ninth floor to the main gate would take another 5 minutes. Just have to move steadily.

I got to the gate, signed out and waved goodbye to the gateman. He said, “Ibraheem! Make sure you come home today oooo”. Very funny man, I had a tossed and turned the night before so he knew what he was saying. I said OK.

I had not passed two blocks from the hostel when I saw her, in a black Jalaab, so beautiful in her Hijab. An Egyptian of course and her baby I believe, was having a sound sleep around her shoulder under the angry sun. Surrounding her were nylons full of different packs of food and fruits. Seeing her, I could describe the type of background she’s from.

She said, “Habibi… Plz help me” and I thought to myself “Heeeee, Habibi?” (That means my love). Well, I couldn’t but come to her rescue. She was with a child and load to carry and I wondered how she got to that place, and where she was coming from. But what can a gentleman do?

 I moved closer to her and she looked so pitiful to me, tired and stressed out. Then I remembered the statement of Prophet Muhammad while giving examples of charity. One of those things he mentioned was helping someone with his or her load. So I just bent down and started gathering nylons. More so, he advised to be good to women. And a nursing mother at that, I couldn’t look away.

As I bent down, she said, “Sadiqi (My friend)… Let me carry some.” and I froze. Did my love in your heart just depreciate? Lol. She had just called me Habibi and now Sadiqi. I told her not to worry anyway, so I carried all.

As I was walking, she walked by me. Then I was shy as we walked by the bazaars, as people were warmly staring at us like, ‘wow, this is a husband walking with his wife and carrying the load for her.’ 

But that wasn’t why I was shy actually, and that wasn’t why they were amazed too. Rather, a black guy married to an Egyptian lady was the topic. I could see them all murmuring about our affair. Within me I laughed coz I don’t care, and she was not bothered too coz an Egyptian lady can’t be approached anyhow. So, we both cared less about them.

As we passed by about ten blocks, she said “Thanks so much, I can help myself from here.” I denied her that and helped to the end… I am an African man, and we were taught in Yoruba land that, ‘ibèrè kó lónisé’, which roughly means ‘To begin a task is not what matters.’  As I got to the front of her house, I dropped the nylons and waved her goodbye. She was happy and smiled. 

For me to be the reason why someone smiles gladdens me a lot too. I wish she were Syrian, I would have taken her in. All I would need do is phone my mum and say, “Don’t worry too much about me, I am married.”

Keep helping and keep making people smile. When they smile, you will smile too and that way, the world will smile and be in peace.

©Ibraheem The Broken Pen.

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