“Describe a moment of kindness, between you and someone else — loved one or complete stranger.”
The rain beat down on my skin. I was drenched through and through and there was absolutely nothing that could be done about it. Cars zoomed by as I tried to push through the storm – tears streaming down my face, fear on the verge of rendering me immobile. Lightning flashed all around me. “This is it,” I thought. “I am dead.”
** One Hour Earlier **
I stepped out of my friend’s house and looked up at the sky. I felt my heart sink into my stomach. Where on earth did these clouds come from? I thought. When I’d entered my friend’s house an hour earlier, the sky had a couple of white clouds and a blaring ball of sunshine. The clouds had multiplied into big, black masses of doom and the blaring ball of sunshine was gone. I sighed. My house was a good five kilometres (3 miles) – walking distance – from my current location. The journey involved braving a main road that was as calm as a bathtub full of sharks – hungry sharks. I took a deep breath and began my journey. I took cautious steps, listening out for the sound of thunder. I soon realized that if I heard the thunder, there was nothing I was going to be able to do to change the situation. So I increased my speed and prayed that the rain would come after I got home.
No. Such. Luck.
By the time I’d reached the main road, the heavens had unleashed its entire reservoir. There I was – no umbrella, no raincoat, and a couple of kilometres to go. Suddenly, a flash of lightning filled the sky. I felt my legs turn into jelly. Those who know me very well, know that during these times, I had a deep fear of lightning. One flash of lightning and I was off to hide in the cupboard. Now there I was with no cupboard – or any form of refuge. I could feel the fear resonating in my heart. Vehicles zoomed past me as I struggled to walk through the rain. The thunder was becoming louder and the lightning wasn’t holding anything back. Vivid images of getting struck by lightning filled my head as my legs became shakier and shakier. I’d let go of all my pride by then. I was crying like a baby and all I wanted was to be in the comfort of my bed. I wasn’t even halfway home and the storm seemed to be getting worse. I felt my knees buckle as I fell to the ground. I felt hopeless. I felt scared. I felt cold. Cars with enough space for Africa zoomed past me. Not a single driver tried to make an effort to help me out. I picked myself up and continued to limp, in hopes of the rain clearing up. I could feel my hopes fading as I struggled to walk.
Suddenly, the sound of a hooting vehicle filled my ears. I turned around. It was a minibus taxi – the typical form of transportation in South Africa. I wanted to laugh. I ignored the hoots. The driver wouldn’t stop. I signalled that I had no money. As if a taxi driver, hard at work, was going to give a drenched individual like me a ride, I thought. Suddenly, the car parked in front of me. I sighed. I went to the door, found the taxi empty – besides the driver and his friend in the front seat – and told them that I had no money.
“It’s fine, sisi,” the driver said. “Just get in!”
Now, a rational girl wouldn’t have jumped into an empty taxi – during rush hour traffic – happily. There had been stories of girls being abducted and found dead a few days later. I don’t know whether it was desperation or resignation that drove me to get into that taxi. I jumped in and sat close to the door. The driver turned around and looked at me. I was taken aback by the concern on his face.
“Look at you!” he said. “You’re soaked! Where are you going?”
“Just down the road,” I explained weakly. They dropped me off without any incident and wished me well. I jumped out of the taxi and expressed as much gratitude as I could.
“Just get home in one piece please,” the friend said.
“Take a shower and drink tea,” the driver shouted. “Or you’ll get sick.”
I got home safely and was soon in clean, warm clothes. This happened three to four years ago but to this day I remember that moment of kindness like it happened a couple of hours ago. Here is one thing you should know. Taxi drivers, in South Africa, are seen as heartless individuals who have no consideration for others on the road. I will not say anything on this because it is a topic that can be spoken about for years.
Anyway, in my moment of desperation, all the ‘good and kind’ people in their nice, spacious cars looked past me – or turned the other eye – whilst I struggled. I was helped by the last person I’d ever expect – I used to be a firm advocate against taxi drivers. But ever since that day, I realized that kindness is not in appearance. It’s in the heart of an individual.
Just because a person is shining on the outside, it doesn’t mean they are all golden inside.
I always pray for those angels that saved me that day. It’s the very least I can do.
Think about the last time someone came to your rescue. What have you done for them?