stops when you stop reaching out.
was getting there, whirling senselessly in an endlessly running washing
machine of our islands. Like many of us, I was suffering from a case of
too many elections, too much talk based on narrow individual interests,
too little vision in our public life, too little hope for sustained
Christmas was rolling around and kids were still subjected to filthy
toilets in schools; poor, neglected orphaned kids would still stand around
near traffic lights wiping windshields instead of going to school; people
still thought of nothing but money. Nothing was being done to encourage
people to read; and once again, this season we would see the widening gap
of obscene spending by those who have, on those who have, and those with
nothing, left in the scratching heat with bitterness in their hearts.
sharing that would come wouldn’t be real — it would come in the form
of “hampers” filled with perishables that would last for a day, and
get the philanthropic givers photos in the papers. The obscenity of this
exploitation of the sentiments of this season I knew would make me
giving wouldn’t be jobs, or books, or skills so people could take care
of themselves. It wouldn’t come in the form of ensuring the ill and the
elderly could get decent medical care in our public hospitals, or donating
a computer or two to schools in areas where children were being left
behind due to lack of facilities. The giving wouldn’t be opportunity or
a sense of possibility. The giving wouldn’t take people out of the holes
in which life had dumped them.
there I was, thrashing around, caught in the sameness of it all, watching
the aperture of my own vision shrinking, gradually freezing with the
sensation of spinning top in mud, not making any progress.
nearly came to a standstill.
so happened that Anna, a beautiful Canadian woman, stretched her cyber
hands out to me, and pulled me over to Toronto for a week because she
sensed I was on my way to being jaded.
room’s ready and waiting,” she said.
towels have been freshly laundered, and I’ve put some books I know you
will love by your bedside. We can build a fire, and talk in the
a world of ambiguous relationships, where one is never quite sure where
one stands, this was a pearl. The most refreshing thing about being given
permission to inhabit other people’s lives is the opening of the
aperture in one’s own life — the movement that allows you to view life
from different angles.
met friends, and friends of friends here, each with painful stories of
neglect and loneliness, of loss and hopelessness.
came home to lonely flats night after night. Others were recovering from
broken loves, illness and death of people they loved, or struggling in
jobs that didn’t give them the satisfaction they craved.
here they were, in a coffee shop, in their homes, glowing with candles and
fires and photographs of good times giving — not things, but of
themselves. They spoke with the justifiable confidence of survivors —
people who had overcome the odds and, despite it all, became strong
independent people with hope.
was with this realisation that I woke one morning to find the windy, cold
weather had been transformed into a winter wonderland. The bare, straggly
trees holding on to the last of their flagging yellow leaves were now
playing themselves, gleaming in the soft light with snowfall. The rooftops
and chimneys, and the lawns, the tops of cars, and the wreaths encircling
street lamps, the length of pavements on streets were covered in the
purest, softest, white snow.
said it was unusual weather for this time of year. While kicking some snow
around, and attempting to make a snowman in a children’s park, I thought
I hadn’t taken so much of a risk after all. What I saw around me, as day
faded into night, and the glow of the whiteness around me intensified, was
rewarding me for trying.
of being frozen with fear, I was now filled with whipping exuberance of