Monday, 24 September 2012

"If you want to stop talking

to me I'll understand," she tells me looking nervously around and then ahead at where her husband is chasing their two year old before he falls into the water of the creek.
        "Why would I want to do that?" I ask. I can guess the answer but I think it is important for my young friend to say it.
         "But all this trouble will be trouble for you too."
         "No it won't."
         "But your friends won't like it."
         "If they don't like it then they are not my friends."
She looks disbelievingly at me.
The girl I am talking to is a young Muslim mother. Her husband is a student here, a bio-chemist. I have spoken to him no more than half a dozen times in the two years they have been here. They will be returning to their home country at the end of the year.
She has been lost and lonely for much of the time she has been here. When they arrived the baby was only five months old. I found her at the library soon afterwards trying to get a library card. We got that sorted and she has been forever grateful. I suspect much of her free time in their little upstairs flat is spent reading. Even with a two year old there is a limit to the housework that needs to be done in such a small living space. In fine weather I have often seen her catching a bus or train. She has been walking all over other parts of the city, looking at things and taking photographs. She sometimes sells the photographs to publishers of calendars and tourist brochures.
Both she and her husband have been wary of offers of friendship. They knew their stay here was going to be strictly limited. Their tickets are booked for mid-December. It will, she tells me, be good to go home. I am glad she feels pleased by the thought of going home but I wish she also had regrets about leaving here.
The last couple of weeks have been very difficult for them. Her husband is not a devout man, far from it. He does not attend the mosque on Fridays or pray regularly - if at all.  Still, he has been labelled as "one of them", a Muslim and thus radical, violent and extremist. He is none of these things. His world is the laboratory and the wife and child he clearly adores.
He returns with a wriggling two year old under his arm and greets me quietly.
       "Is your work going well?" I ask.
He smiles suddenly and starts to tell me about the success he has finally had. He is about to write up the last part of his laboratory work. He hopes to have the rest finished before he leaves. It will mean long hours but he wants to do it. Today was too nice to be inside all the time.
       His young son wriggles free and comes up to me. He wants a "ride"on my little vehicle. His father looks surprised.
       "Oh, he almost always has a ride."
His mother takes him off down the path and back, holding him on firmly with one hand and steering with the other. He squeals in delight and makes car noises.
      His father laughs and asks, "Every time he sees you?"
      "Almost," I agree, "I'll miss seeing him."
      "Thankyou," he tells me and then, "No, many times thankyou."
      "I'll see you in the library on Tuesday," I tell my young friend as she comes back.
It is "story time" for the very youngest children on Tuesdays. Their son loves it.
      "You weren't there last week and the others were asking if you were all right."
Suddenly she smiles and says
      "Yes. We'll be there."
So they should be.


the fly in the web said...

Why can't people see people and not 'isms'.

The people who should be doubtful if someone would wish to talk to them should be politicians, all too often bringers of harm not help.

widdershins said...

I've had a lovely time catching up with your posts, Cat.

About this one. I'm so glad you are there for this young couple.

catdownunder said...

Sadly I suspect it is human nature to be suspicious of others.
Not hard to be there for nice people though! It's the few who are not so nice that I struggle with!

Anonymous said...

It is so easy to be there for nice people, but it can be very difficult to be there for the not so nice!

Judy B