Some time ago, on a shopping trip, Aamena scolded me for holding on to the handrail while we rode the escalator. ‘Do you know how many people touch that? Some people don’t even wash their hands after they use the toilet and then they touch that. It’s germs! Yuck!’ I dutifully pulled my hand away. ‘Who told you that?’ I asked, impressed at the little sanitation freak. ‘It’s so obvious. All these people touch it. It’s dirty. You’ll get Aids if you touch it.’ Now I was amused, ‘You can’t get Aids from riding an escalator Aamena.’ ‘Yeah, well you can get sick,’ she said crossly, turning away from me in disgust.
So on Sunday when I hobbled into the Pick n Pay in Norwood, cursing my stupidity for wearing heels while traipsing through the supermarkets of Johannesburg in a desperate search for Vanilla Ice Cream, I smiled when I noticed sanitary wipes for trolleys. Thinking about how proud Aamena would be of me, I snatched a wipe from the pull-out dispenser and began haphazardly cleansing the trolley of any unsavoury organisms lurking in the vicinity of my hands. I was interrupted by an American drawl, ‘I agree with what you’re doing there.’ I looked up, smiling. An orthodox Jewish man stood behind me. I replied, ‘Yip, you never know what lurks around these parts.’ ‘I don’t agree with you people…but I agree with you about this… I don’t agree with a lot of what you do…I don’t agree…’ he stammered incoherently. My trolley cleansing ritual complete, I dumped the wipe in the bin provided, looked at the man’s family in tow, noticed his wife, her concealed hair and smiled at him. ‘We’re more alike than you think,’ I said and wheeled my trolley away.
‘O the One Whom eyes cannot see, conjectures cannot grasp, and describers cannot describe; Whom events cannot affect and Who does not fear calamities; Who knows the weights of the mountains and the volumes of the oceans and the counts of the raindrops and of the tree leaves, and the counts of everything on which night brings darkness and day brings light; O the One from Whom a heaven cannot hide another heaven, nor the earth can hide another earth, nor an ocean can hide what is in its depths, nor a mountain can hide what is behind its ruggedness-make the last part of my life its best, my last deed my best one, and the day I meet You my best day.’ Ameen!