About 3 years ago, we – Mr. B and I – hosted our first Eid-el Adha party as a family. The social hallmark of the Eid-el Adha celebrations is the fried ram meat; everyone I know – young or old, Muslim or not – looks forward to this once-a-year delicacy (for most). Even the rams themselves know something is up (even though not in their favour).
We live in an apartment block that does not have any space provision for outdoor food preparation and cooking, so we decided to explore the option of using the undeveloped plot of land next door. Mr. B met the head of the family that had taken up a shanty residence there to seek permission to handle our ram business there. The gentleman – who I shall call Ahmed – not only acceded to our request but also helped select an appropriate spot for our purpose. Ahmed went the additional step of helping us oversee the individuals that were working on the ram to ensure things were done properly; we were pleasantly surprised as we had not asked him to do that. At the end of it all, Ahmed did not request for a single thing in return for all his assistance. We ensured he had a very healthy helping from the menu of the day, but we did not think that was enough to repay him for his kindness. Such acts of kindness can never be fully repaid in my opinion. We have since included Ahmed and his family in our zakat distributions every Eid-el Adha and Eid-el Fitr; a little token in our opinion, but we know it will enhance his family’s nutrition for a reasonable period. We greet each other heartily whenever we do see, and he always seems genuinely happy to see us.
Fast forward to 3 weeks ago when we had some major road work done in the neighborhood that resulted in a major access road becoming inaccessible for a few days. This meant we had to park at the other end of our street as that end had been barricaded (don’t ask :|) and walk a short distance home – nothing uncomfortable, and thankfully it is currently Harmattan, so there was next to no chance of having to deal with the rains :). On that morning, I had gone on the morning school run, returned, parked at the closed end of the street, saw Ahmed as I walked home, we greeted ourselves heartily as usual, and I walked on home. When it was time for the afternoon school run, I rushed out nearly late as usual (sigh!), returned with my crew, parked at the closed end of the street again. I carefully chose my spot so I would neither end up being sandwiched in nor obstruct the free flow of traffic). I then got my crew arranged with their school items in place in their backpacks on their shoulders, then got into our set-to-walk position: I hold Miss AB’s hand, and Mstr EB holds her other hand, with me being closest to the street and Mstr EB closest to the curb.
Just as I was silently congratulating myself on getting us all “in-sync” in good time, I saw Ahmed walking briskly towards us, trying to tell me something that I could not yet hear. I looked around wondering what he could be saying: did I miss a sign that said not to park there? was it supposed to be someone else’s spot? As he got closer, I heard the sweet words:
“Madam you fit enter; e get person wey go open am for you.” (Madam, you can drive your car through; I have someone who will open up the barricade for you)
My eyes must have been as large as circles! I had no idea the lock at the barricade even had a key! And to find out that not only did it have a key, the holder of the key was close by, and Ahmed had gotten him to provide us access! You would think I had won a lottery! I thanked Ahmed profusely, told the munchkins that they would get their leg-stretch exercise another time, and happily drove us home.
Why did this action of Ahmed’s make such an impression on me? Because even though it was not an uncomfortable distance, it felt good to have someone else look out for us without us making any move to make a request, and knowing the person would not ask us for anything in return. Also, because the gesture was not materialistic in any way, but provided a much-needed respite on a very hot day.
In Yoruba, we have a short phrase: “k’a sa ma se da da,” which loosely means “it is good to do good.” Let us please continue to be kind to others without expecting anything in return; we never know when that gesture will be returned and how much impact it will have. In this instance, we were the direct beneficiaries; in other instances, it may be our loved ones that would be the beneficiaries. Do not view a person through the lens of class, status, appearance, age, or religion, to determine whether or not to be kind; we all belong to a single race called humanity, and no one knows anyone’s tomorrow, not even our own. So, go forth and be kind!
Got any karma stories of your own to share?