Tuesday, 19 March 2013

I am not a bad person


I am not a bad person
While my wife is in the shop, I decide to walk down the street to see if I can find a coffee. It’s called distraction therapy. In my peripheral vision, I see an in- coming beggar. Like all discerning white men, I take evasive action and do a 180. Too late; the in-coming beggar engages me. Not to worry, training seems to kick in. The next course of action is to ignore and look aloof, keep walking and repeat silently, she does not exist. Damn it, she is persistent. Not long to the shop where the wife is engaged in therapeutic therapy, just a few more steps. The beggar is unusually persistent. Right to the door, she is saying something; she is making me feel uncomfortable. Before I reach the shop and safety, damn it, she touches me! I am not prepared for this physical contact; this is not part of the training. I turn and acknowledge her. I even act surprised. She is better at this game than I. All my training is failed; I am faced with a young black woman and her stink. Somewhere beyond the smell is a request. It is the smell of her I have to overcome before hearing the request. I want food, is all I hear.  We enter into some sort of bargaining. She wants me to take her to the supermarket to get something. That sounds dangerous; I presume I walk round the corner and a gang will attack me. The street security people look on and they are willing to get rid of her. Other’s smile at me; they know all my training failed, and I am compromised by her persistence and now her story. I am willing to take her to the fried chicken shop but it is then she pulls off her coup d’etat. She takes from her neck a pretty scarf. The beauty of the scarf hides a large ugly growth, and when I say large, I mean large. Her mouth moves above the growth which she tells me is cancerous. She also tells me she wants cornflakes and milk from the supermarket, as she finds it difficult to swallow. This poorly trained white man, carrying his principles and fear so well, is unwilling to go as far as the supermarket. The one who carries the beautiful scarf that hides the growth tells me before I agree to the fried chicken “I am not a bad person”. No, I believe she is not a bad person, but she is black, poor, living in South Africa and poorly, and I am not. I push to the front of the queue and hand over as quickly as possible the amount of money for her food [F1] that would buy me a semi decent newspaper at home. I point; I exit as quickly as possible, and go back to the security t of the shop and my wife. I am 20 rand lighter and heavy with my principles. “I am not a bad person”.