From the daily discoveries and rescuing of ‘proverbial Taju’s and Olajumoke’s’ out of poverty to the passionate solidarity for domestically abused women in Nigeria, one cannot fairly conclude that kindness is a scarce commodity. It is safe to assume that we are not averse to the concept of kindness and how it translates into our everyday world. Even though the lines get blurry sometimes, in the sense that a woman dedicated to lending her voice against domestic violence still gets back home and unrepentantly maltreat her help and goes about bragging about it amongst her friends. It is like an irony of sorts.
While trying to research for this piece, I was shocked to know that there is a day dedicated for kindness. Yes, there is a World Kindness Day and it is not until November 13. But why must we wait for a day when we can choose to live out kindness every day. Being kind is an intentional activity and I am not talking about the one we put up when trying to suck up to someone or the one we show to people that are deserving of it. I am rooting for those random acts of kindness that are not defined by class, social strata, wealth or religion.
Like the one I was shown few weeks ago. It brought me to my knees and further humbled me and showed me that anyone could be of help.
Since I became someone who bleeds every month, I have always taken pride in being able to stay clean and stainless on these ‘red days’. Every woman goes through this ritual every month, yet no one wants it publicized so we ‘package ourselves’ well by buying well layered pads or even investing in tampons. All through my college and spinsterhood days, I never for once had a heavy flow talk less of being stained. But typical of a woman’s body and my hormonal implant fail, I have gloriously been blessed with very heavy red days. It opens like a tap and won’t stop pouring until days later. So, this day, I had an early morning meeting on the island and I have done the needful by padding myself up literally. Like I couldn’t have done better than that, but I guess the long trip from the mainland to the island has encouraged my uterus to weep like crazy.
The more I drove, the more it poured but there was a big part of me that was confident in my preparation. I felt there was no way I could get stained, but this day was different.
As soon as I drove into the Ikota Shopping Market and came out of the car, I saw to my dismay, trickles of blood and I wasn’t only stained, I was dripping with blood. I panicked and started to look around to see if anyone just witnessed my show of shame. Someone saw me. Someone saw my struggle and embarrassment.
My witness was an old woman working at the public toilet of the market. She saw me and rushed to me with her head scarf to cover me. At that moment, my confusion gave way to bewilderment and gratitude. She puts her hands around me and whispered in Yoruba, “Don’t feel bad, it happens to all women.” I couldn’t argue with her reasoning because as at that time, she was the rightest thing in my world and I wasn’t about to disagree with her.
She rushed to buy toilet rolls for me and ushered me into the brand new/never used toilet to change myself. When I offered to give her money for the tissue rolls, she responded with an embarrassing laugh, “am I not old enough to give you something”. She made sure that I became comfortable again and sent me off with a smile and a hug. She covered my shame and she did it brilliantly.
Kindness has no colour. It is gender blind. It is deaf to social and wealth systems. It doesn’t know who is trending online and who isn’t. It just keeps on giving and giving till it becomes a cycle and a lifestyle. I might never see my Samaritan again, but she has unknowingly put on me, the mandate to show undeserving kindness to everyone that I cross paths with. Rather than hastily passing judgement on people and their decisions, I choose to see life, not only from the black and white angles but from all shades of colours.
Rather than talking carelessly about a situation, I know little or nothing about, I choose to keep shut and get all the facts before commenting. Rather than berating the government on what and what’s not, I have been compelled to start the change within myself, my home and my immediate community.
Kindness is not so hard to show. We just need to start with someone.
Tolu is a writer , social media strategist and fundraising expert. She is also the founder of Ink and Ideas.
Facebook: Tolulope Babjide