Tuesday 30 April 2013

Tales of extraordinary kindness

Writing continues unabated in my kitchen.
The toothpicks holding my eyelids up have been photo-shopped
A little while ago I lost my baby son's red medical book somewhere between my flat and Bloomsbury. A week or so later, the book was sent to me along with a letter to my son that stated where the finder had found it (Gower street) and suggesting that my son give it to his parents for safe keeping. It would likely be safer were my son to take care of it himself. I was struck by the kindness of this stranger and by his beautiful handwriting. Before writing back to express my thanks, I googled him - he has an unusual double-barrelled name - and discovered he is a well known British actor. Perhaps he was stepping out of RADA when he stepped on the red book. 

There are two Zimbabwean men whom I have yet to meet, who have gone out of their way to help me get my book "After the Rains" to more readers, particularly in Zimbabwe where I most long for it to be read. The first, Roger, works with books in Zimbabwe. He has introduced me to many of his contacts who have gone on to help me and has selflessly dispensed frank advice from his cache of expert knowledge. The second, Jason, runs a Zimbabwean website. He has similarly helped me, with a review and even running a competition for the book. Another lovely Zimbabwean woman, Les, offered to stock my books in her shop in Zimbabwe in order to support another Zimbabwean charity. Given it is a feat similar to roller-skating up Snowdon via Crib Goch to get ones books into Zimbabwe, I was overjoyed by her offer. She too has gone out of her way for me in a variety of ways. I recently met Les, what a hoot, her kindness has led to friendship. 

Six weeks ago my baby son was born. Friends from church immediately offered to help. Two friends, Cleverson and Fatima regularly brought round food to cook for us. Fatima has been coming round every week to cook delicious food. When she leaves, the children rush in to see what delights are in store. Cleverson is very busy running the church venue in Soho amongst many other things and Fatima is in the midst of exams and assignments but they chose to help us nonetheless.

Why am I writing about these kindnesses? Kindness seems to be a rarer and rarer demonstrative gift. So often I am struck by the lack of it: on the tubes and the buses, in the shops where people seem to be impatiently focussed solely on their own needs. On the roads fellow drivers are mostly pushy and selfish. Thus when kindness is demonstrated, it glitters like gold and ought to be celebrated. If only our streets could be paved with it.