Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Rejecting the Kindness of Strangers

So there I was, sitting on the food court of the mall with my son Yusuf. We were waiting for my wife to finish her shopping. I was sitting, sipping my cup of tea, while the son was busy with a toy that I occasionally had to feign interest in. All of a sudden I see two hands reaching out to give my son a couple of candies.

It was an old lady seated at the next table in the food court. She was having nuts from a bag, and was dressed in a shalwar kameez and had a scarf on, and a smile on her face.

"Your son is so cute, MashAllah." She said, munching on her nuts.

"Why, thank you." I said. Even as I beamed her a smile, my mind was running in a different direction.

Don't unwrap the candy. Don't even think of eating it. I silently prayed, trying to mentally project my orders to my son. Happily, my son was not too hungry - he was just fascinated by the shiny wrapper on the candy, but at that moment the toy had more attraction to him.

"Do you want some?" Before I could say anything else, the lady took a handful of nuts and offered them to us. And when I say offered, I mean she literally dumped them on our table. At this point, I did have to take a firmer stance.

"Er, we don't really eat nuts, and my son is definitely a fussy eater."

I took the nuts and placed them back on her table.

"But thank you anyways."

Later, when we left, I took the candies (they were some toffee that looked Chinese) and threw them into the bin, feeling guilty as I did so. The lady seemed thoroughly a nice old kindly lady, but I wasn't going to feed mystery food to my kid.

It's the society that we live in now that we have to reject the kindness of strangers. I myself would never offer my own food to another person's child, and as a man I would never comment on another baby's cuteness or pet him. Even as we have become more connected via online, in reality we have built these highly invisible walls around ourselves and woe betide anyone who wants to break them. And why not, when there are sickos like these in our society.

For the evil of a few, the goodness of the many must be shunned.

1 comment:

Salma Dinani said...

I always think, it's better to be safe than sorry.