Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Random Acts of Kindness

Malawians are incredibly warm and considerate in such a gentle, unassuming way. My days are often peppered by random considerate acts or words, and today was no exception...

After work, I got on my bike to ride the 8ish km home, and the metal rung that I was using as a pedal fell promptly off. I tried to jam it back in, but it wouldn’t hold. There was no other option to push the bike in the blistering sun.
I figured that the walk will take an hour an a half and worried about walking with this shiny new bicycle (it puts me in a more vulnerable place because I don’t have any hands free and also draws attention).

I start pushing the bike up the first hill, then sit on the bike while I whiz down the other side, using gravity to take me to the bottom. This is the fastest method to get home and I continue this for about 30minutes when a man rides his bicycle past me.
He turns and looks, slows down and inspects my bike to see what is wrong. He gets off his bike and tries to fix it. When that doesn’t work, he offers me his bicycle to ride, saying that he knows how to ride mine. We try to switch but his is too big for me (I’m 5’2 with short legs) and I can’t reach the peddles from the seat.
Instead of continuing on home and leaving me alone, he pushes his bike beside me – the whole way.

Samson pushing his bike just ahead of me
At the top of hills we climb onto our bikes and ride down the other side, but other than that we walk and chat – him on the outside to protect me from the passing traffic. His name is Samson and he teaches me some Chichewa words and tells me about his children. When he drops me at the bike mechanic beside my place after a good hour of walking beside me he wishes me well, using the word ‘daughter’ as a term of endearment. Only when he sees me safe inside the gates does he get on his bike and continue home.  


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