What do you see? (and think?)
Just a little thing I thought I'd begin. I'm calling it 'Thank Goodness'. On as many days as possible (during the Coronavirus crisis) I'll post a little story that reminds me of the goodness I've experienced somewhere in the world. It's just a way to bring us together, to learn from and be uplifted by one another. Here's today's offering:
There is no picture for today's little natter because I'd prefer not to identify the place...and nor will I reveal the real name of the person who took me into her world. More than a good handful of years ago in Europe I was staying in a run-down hotel near a train station. On several of my morning walks I saw teenagers making their own tracks, shooting up heroin on steps and in out-of-way corners. On all of my morning walks ( and afternoon ones too), I passed several brothels, nearly all of which had women in fur coats standing out the front of their red-lighted facades. There was, however, one notable exception: at one establishment stood a young African woman in jeans and a jacket. Every time I passed her she smiled at me. Every time, I smiled back. We exchanged occasional words: 'Hello' Hello';...'It is cold.' 'Yes, it is.';...'You are tall.' 'Yes I am.'
After one such fleeting exchange, she invited me into her den. I said 'no.' The next day she asked again, and again I said 'no.' She pleaded without any force: 'Please, please. It will be nice for you.' I smiled but walked on. She smiled back. On my return she was still there, and her invitation was again accompanied with a smile. This time I relented. I felt sorry for her.
'I promise I will come at the end of the week. I promise,' I told her.
She grinned: 'Thank you,' she said. After that, every day I passed that brothel she was waiting, and her eyes lit up whenever she saw me. A promise is a promise, and on my final day in the town, I entered her den, but only on the insistence that 'I will only talk, nothing more, ok?' Nevertheless, she was very excited. Dare I say, like a schoolgirl inviting a new boyfriend home for the first time. The den was dark. Lush carpet. Corridors, curtains, a bar. She invited me to sit at a table in an open space. She offered me a drink. 'No,' I said. She told me her name, her age. She said '23'; I doubted that. Then, she told me what we could do behind the curtains. 'No,' I said. 'I will just talk.' Periodically, an older woman in a white full length white coat walked past us and looked at me. I most remember her false eyelashes; they were like the tassels on a lampshade. After one such passing, the young African woman said: 'I am lucky.' 'Why?' I asked. 'Because In my country I didn't have a job, but here, I have a job, A job with good money. I send it home to my family. I am very lucky.' Without the madam noticing, I slipped some money under the table, and without any pressure, I was allowed to walk out. The young African woman was disappointed, but still she smiled. 'Thank you,' she said. There is no thank goodness to this story other than one that was driven by my own selfishness: Thank goodness for the life I had (and still do). Did I do the right thing my giving her some money? I don't know. Did I do the right thing by following her into her den. I don't know. I think of her often. Even now.