Rumble: How Lucky We Are.

Take 1: Sometimes in a flash of a second, you know the person you just crossed eyes with, will be a dear friend for many years. A flash of recognition. A connection of souls. E. has been one of those friends for me.

Take 2: Sometimes in the middle of the daily routines, a small wonder happens. One little thing, one experience, a short event. But it gives you insights. Lifts you to a different level.

Take 3: E. is on mission in Khartoum (Sudan) at this moment. She just sent me an email, about one of those extra-ordinary insights life can offer us. It touched me, and I want to share it with you.

This man.

My trip this time is marked with one *amazing* experience. Have to spill it right now: I went for lunch today with a friend from UNICEF. I had a nice hour - easy lunch. Stepped out of the UNICEF office and started walking towards the street in the heat, trying to figure out in my little comfy world "How long would I have to walk before I find a tuktuk or a cab?". I looked at one of the cooking ladies on the street, and greeted her. As I turned there was a nice yellow cab coming my way..

He slows down - and then, I bend to stick my head at the window and ask him in Arabic: "Street 33, how much?".. He replies "5".. I figure I won't haggle or look for the tuktuk. So I say "ok" and get into the front seat, as per usual. He drives off and asks which direction I'd like to go in and I tell him.

Then, we're both quiet - I'm reflecting a little on the heat and the rest of my working day at the office, looking out the window - also, secretly hoping he won't want to chitchat..

After a while, he says to me: "My daughter,..." (It is always a relief as the use of that word to address a younger woman, in Arabic, is a sign of decency). "My daughter,... I'm disabled."
I turn towards him and look from up to down. He has no legs - cut at a little below the waist. Can you imagine my reaction - my heart leaped out of my chest. My eyes bulged and I looked back up at him and then, figure very quickly that he's got a cab equipped with a basic, Sudanese-style mechanical addition so he can drive. And work.

Now, I want to chitchat. But don't even dare push him in that direction. He says "I'm disabled but it doesn't stop me from living and having lived my life.."

All that spurts out of my mouth is: "Mashallah (God Bless)". And then, "May God assist you".. The usual Arabic expressions of admiration and support - always with the tinge of religious connotation.
He turns again and says "I have lived my life. I have daughters your age..."

By then, my feelings are reeling - I'm thinking "Look at this - what a shake out of your world, E.! Look at this - it's a person who's truly courageous and just amazingly happy with his part in life. The rest of us - in our spoilt, disturbingly easy lives cannot hold a light to *that* strength!"..

He continues "I've been disabled since 13 and I'm over 50 now - I have lived. I have lived with what I could"..

My tongue and voice return - I say "Since 13, Mashallah! This is really impressive. May God Bless and Assist you" . "You have children? You...". He cuts me off with "Yes, my daughter - I have daughters like you in age and they have children too.. And I have lived."

By that time, we were nearing the office and he started asking about the specific location - I gave directions until we got there. We stopped I handed him whatever I had. He looked at his hand and shook his head: "It's too much" and I said "Of course it's not", thanking him and started making my way out of the cab. For my ownself, I didn't look back.

I quickly starting digging into my aching heart and my spirit - we crossed each other's paths for a reason. I realized as I started writing this email that the reason for me was a sentence he kept on saying "I have lived!" Oh yes, he had - he was an example to me. That living it with every inch of you - regardless of the 'outcome' is the way..

I have every intention of living my life - sucking it dry without guaranteeing the outcome! And now to you, I say: "Live so you can say as he did 'I have lived' and truly mean it..!"

Picture Khartoum taxis, courtesy of Phillip Russell


ourman,  25 May, 2007 00:32  

Great post. Great blog too.

Giving up an office job in the UK for a life of volunteering overseas is the best thing I ever did.

Can't imagine going home now.

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