Freezing cold and fed up, it was now dark and I knew it was time to head back to the flat. I had spent hours walking and walking around the markets trying to find the perfect present.
As I hurried back through the stalls a woman stopped me and told me the goods on her stall were for raising money for children. I looked, at first out of politeness, but then I noticed a beautiful piece of artwork, made from delicately metallic painted leaves complied with a face drawn in the centre. Such a simple but stunning concept.
“This one took me hours… I wanted the face to look thoughtful rather than aggressive”.
“Are you interested in art?”
she asked me.
“Yes I love art but the truth is I was never good it. I’m more of a writer”
I told her.
We spoke about journalism, she told me her son was an actor but wanted to go into writing. Interested in her work, and her in mine, I let her take my contact details.
After seeing my last name she asked me if I was Muslim. I giggled.
“No but a lot of people presume I am, it’s a fascinating religion”.
We spoke about the misconceptions and the issues faced by British Muslims. It was then that she told me she is a Religious Education teacher from Norfolk but she resigned after the cuts were proposed. I could see integrity in her eyes.
She told me how she would like to do interfaith workshops to help people of different faiths bond, perhaps through role-play to try and understand one another.
She asked me where my gloves were. When I told her I didn’t have any she lifted my hands up, put them between hers to keep them warm.
We spoke about the city life, I told her how I don’t really belong in London. I told her about some of the issues I faced at home; the fact that my house recently got burgled. She reminded me how when we leave this world, we don’t take anything with us.
“I know, but My Mum never wore some of that jewellery, she was saving it. It makes me angry”.
She told me how her husband was Indian. At first they didn’t tell her in-laws that they got married, she was White-British. Her father-in-law refused to even talk to her. I could only imagine how heart-breaking this was.
“My mother-in-law took my hand, and placed her wedding bangle from her arm to mine”.
She lifted her coat sleeve and showed me her bangle. I could see it made her happy. She told me of another occasion when doctors had to cut worthless jewellery from her arm and her mother-in-law gave her two gold bangles to replace them. She lifted her other coat sleeve and showed me. Besides what she said I could sense the love in her eyes for her mother-in-law.
I don’t know why or how, but I felt overwhelmed. The warmth of this mother-in-laws heart gave this woman strength, and it gave me hope.
A man approached us. Toby ran the stall as well. I spoke to him about economics and the occupy movement whilst the lady went to move her car, she thought she had be clamped. She returned. I told her she was lucky.
“Can’t have been luck. It was God who saved me… I have good contacts”
I could tell this woman has a lot of faith. It was endearing.
She took my hands again to keep them warm. She then opened her purse and took out what looked to be business cards. She told me they were “wish cards”, they were all different. I picked one at random.
“To get happiness just look for it in the right place. The right place is your self-giving heart”
It was a surreal experience, I was freezing and parts of the conversations we had I can’t recall.
But I remember feeling like a child who had just been given something magical. It was at this point I began to wonder if my faith was beginning to be restored. I wondered if God planned for me to meet this woman and planned me to pick this exact card. Happiness is something that has been distant from me in the past few months.
She offered me the goods from her stall for half the price because she liked me. I didn’t buy anything because I felt like I didn’t have enough money. She understood and gave me a kind hug as I left. “It was lovely to meet you” I told her, and Toby.
I bought a coffee on the way home to keep me warm. Sitting on the tube ride, I stared at my wish card. That’s when it hit me. I would’ve survived without the coffee I was drinking. Why didn’t I donate the money? This woman gave me hope and kindness. It was priceless. Sure, I didn’t need the items on her stall, and I don’t have a lot of money, but I could’ve bought a card and shared the message she gave me.
I hope she does keep in contact with me. For I know there can only be good from what she does. I would like to help her, and thank her for giving me hope to salvage what is left of 2011. Happiness lies in helping her, and helping others.
There are kind people in the world. They are often the happiest and share happiness with others. Never lose faith.