Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Giving Water



Asalamu Alaykom,




During the hottest week yet this summer, we had an errand to run.  As a family, we went down our street with the aim to catch an air-conditioned taxi.  My husband and son, being males, focused on the goal ahead.  I, being female, noticed the little boy too short to turn on a faucet.  The water tap, supplied by the mosque, was meant as a form of charity.  They hadn't figured on this small guy being all alone and thirsty.

Despite the fact that I got in trouble the last time I tried to help a boy in my neighborhood, I stopped walking.  I asked my husband to help the boy.  Ahmed went over and filled the cup---probably a germy cup since it's used by ever passerby---and gave it to the boy.  The boy drank without thanking anyone because that's what kids do.

I thanked my husband as he returned to me and we continued on our walk.

"Mom," my own boy began, "how did you even notice him?"

"Didn't you see him?" I asked.

"No, I can't pay attention to everything!"

I thought and then replied, "I can't either, but I do notice the needy.  If I can help, then I do."

Over Ramadan, I found so much solace in helping the mama cat and her kitten.  To give them water and watch them drink has felt so good.  I'm sharing the video at the top of this post because an eco-friendly man found a way to record just who it was drinking out of the pail of water he had been leaving.

Mashahallah.

Later, on the day we were running an errand, I saw that, across the street, the cart with the Eid hats and noisemakers.  It was still being pushed with hopes that someone...anyone...would buy.  I marveled at that and even turned my head to watch him as he went away.  Then, I saw his feet without shoes.  His feet were on city street's burning pavement and he kept walking along without any protection.

I stopped and asked my husband if we could help him.

"You're too soft, Mom," my son complained.

"Mashahallah," my husband corrected, "Your mom is so sweet."

However, he wouldn't join with me in finding a way to get the man shoes.  The man stayed on my mind the rest of the day, the week, and into today.  We had the money; we just didn't have the time.  Astragferallah.

If I see him again...

and then I wonder why I'm the only one who sees him.  Doesn't anyone else see those in need?

If you see him...

or anyone else whom you can safely help today, then please do.

A FEW DAYS LATER

My rescue mission expanded from the animal kingdom to the plant kingdom when I saw a plant in need of help.

Seeing living organisms in need of help isn't hard in Egypt because there is SO MUCH need.  Maybe there is in other places in the world----I certainly saw a lot in the U.S.  Because I'm still a foreigner in Egypt (and always will be), I perhaps see the need that others don't.

It wasn't hard to see this particular plant as it was stationed right outside my window.  It used to be that we had an openness outside our salon window, but building higher and higher became a necessity all over our neighborhood (and all over Egypt).  As the family with the three grown sons increased their levels, our view decreased.  We ended up looking directly at their balcony...and the plant.

The youngest son is still unmarried, so he  hasn't moved in even though three plants are stationed on his balcony railing.  Two of the plants seem to weather the desert conditions pretty well.  Their leaves stay standing at attention.  Then, there is the other plant.  I think it's jasmine.  It wilts.  Not right away!  It tries to be like its buddies and take the heat like a cactus, but it can't.  When it wilted, I felt badly for it.

Could I knock on the door and tell the men's mother about it?

Not really (unless I wanted to be labeled The American Weirdo).

Could I talk to the wife of one of the brothers?  She lived one floor down and sometimes I would see her hanging out the wash.

She doesn't know me and might not understand me in our first meeting if I'm talking about a plant.

Couldn't I just disregard it?

I tried.

I failed.

I couldn't stop thinking that there was this precious little life that had brought me joy in this area where any form of gardening cheers me up.  I couldn't let it die!  I therefore did what any half-crazed American does:   I got my gun!



It's a water gun; a big Super Soaker from the States.  It's not the exact one in the photo, but pretty much like it.  We actually carried it back to Egypt with us when El Kid put up a fuss saying that he couldn't live without it.

It was fajr when I went into his room.  He was sleeping.  I stole borrowed his Super Soaker and filled it with water.  It has a pumping action that you have to repeat in order to build up the pressure.  I started it up and it WAS LOUD.  I could have truly woken up everyone---including my husband who had gone back to bed.  I knew that if I woke him up I would NOT be able to water the plant.

I primed the mechanism only a couple more times and then stuck it out the window.  That must have been a strange sight!  I wonder if anyone saw me in my prayer clothes with an atomic space-age weapon.  I pulled the gun back in when I realized that worshipers were leaving the mosque from fajr prayer.  It probably would be a bad deed to super soak faithful believers.

I waited.  I scanned the street.  No one was there and I didn't hear anyone coming.

I stuck the gun out of the window again and squeezed the trigger.  The water shot from our window to the neighbor's balcony.  It worked!  Now, I had to aim it better to get it into the flower pot.  Some of the dirt splashed out and hit the wall behind.  Oops!  I didn't mean to dirty their home.

I stopped and wondered if I should continue.  Could I get in trouble even if I was doing my best?  Ah, that's the story of my life, isn't it?  I decided that a living thing trumped outweighed a cement wall.  I shot again with better aim and no more splashes.  I gave some water to the other plants as well.  Didn't want them getting jealous.

I stood back and looked.  I don't know what I thought I would see.  It wasn't snapping back into shape like a slinky.  It was still wilted and I wondered if I had been too late.  Nothing left for me to do but go back to bed.

When the sun was up, I got up a second time.  My husband was already awake.  I went into the salon to see him and then I headed to the window.  I couldn't tell him.  I could only look secretly.  There it was:  the balcony with three plants and every one of them looked beautiful.

It had worked!  I had saved a plant.  Alhumdulillah.

Later that week, the neighbor man came to check on his future home and watered his plants.  After that, he forgot again and I shot again.  That time was funny because El Kid was sure that I was going to shoot the noisy children in the street.  Hmm...

I eventually told my husband.  He laughed.  He knows me well enough to know that he can't really stop me if I'm on a righteous kick.

For me, when I look out the window and see the healthy plant I feel a tenderness towards this fragile world.  It needs us to care.  I'm glad I cared---not just about the plant, but about everyone and everything that has mattered to me.  I hope I have done more good than bad in my life.


3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would like to repeat what your husband said :

"Mashahallah," my husband corrected, "Your mom is so sweet."

Anonymous said...

As part of my faith filled life, I too have been given signs, "because I see". When God puts a sign in front of you, it is your duty to step up, step forward and most importantly, to see. I'm sure the shoeless man shall be on your mind until you find a way to pay forward for that negligence. On the day of judgement, I doubt that "not having time" would be a valid excuse.

Perhaps a form of charity elsewhere?

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom,

To my first comment, Thanks for being kind :)

To my second comment, it's a sincere hardship and blessing to feel for others. Here in Egypt, it can be dangerous to try to help. There are issues wrapped up in this culture that don't have to do with Islam. It's easy to know what to do as a Muslim, but not as easy to know HOW to do it in actual practice. As a woman, I can't always do for a man---almost never. I have to ask my husband or son to bridge that gender gap.

When I asked my husband if we could stop and help the shoeless man, he said we couldn't (meaning at that time). He has put up with me for almost eight years now and he knows that I'm stubborn on some issues. I have had to let go of other times because I can't fight every issue.

Recently, in May, there was a time when I stopped to help a boy and it ended up in a HUGE neighborhood problem. No joke. I wrote about it, but didn't publish it. Maybe I'll publish it still. Knowing the problems that caused, I am twice shy to help again if my husband is not for it.

On Judgment Day, I don't think I will regret what I could have done for the people in the world. I think I will regret what I could have done for my family. Allahu alim.

I realize you're keeping me humble and thanks for that (not that you need to do it on a regular basis).

Love and Light!