Thursday, February 15, 2007

new friends

“Hey, Dad.” Meaghan said. “Look at Roshini’s gloves.”

We picked up Roshini this morning to walk her to school. Her younger sister, Shruti, was ill and their father, Ramasamy, had taken Shruti to the hospital this morning, so he was unable to escort Roshini to school as per their usual routine.

I think it may have been some time in October when we met Roshini and her father on the street, walking home from school one day. During the stroll home, we discovered that they live just one block away from us. Some time during the course of the conversation, I mentioned to Ram that, if they ever had need for me to take Roshini to school, I would be happy to do so. “Just give me a ring, and I can swing by and pick her up, if you want.” He thanked us for the offer.

Yesterday, I received a call from Ram, sometime in the early evening. He mentioned that he had to take Shruti to hospital, and would it be okay if Roshini came with us to school next morning?

I told him that I was sorry to hear about Shruti’s illness, but, yes, we would be happy to take Roshini to school.

The morning was a tad on the “brisk” side, though the sky was clear. You could see your breath and, about the time we arrived at Roshini’s door, I was wishing I had worn my gloves.

Roshini, however, was smart. She did wear her gloves. And, I must say, they were quite “smart” gloves. So unique, in fact, that Meaghan, my daughter, drew my attention to them.

“Hey, Dad.” Meaghan said. “Look at Roshini’s gloves.”

I regarded her hands. They were fuzzy, white and green. I thought of a joke, because, I thought, "A joke will be just the thing to cheer Roshini and assure her that this walk to school will be fun.”

So, I quipped, “Wow, cool! Were they made from a green-striped zebra?”

Nicolas, my 7 year old son, laughed. This meant only so much to me, however, because he tends to laugh at knock-knock jokes that start with owls and end with images of bananas in boots.

So, I looked at Meaghan to see what she thought of the joke.

She stood there and glanced side-ways at Roshini. Roshini did not laugh. Nor did Meaghan.

“Oh, well,” I thought, “let’s go.”

Meaghan grabbed hold of Roshini’s hand and the rest of the way to school they did not let go once.

Along the way, they mostly chattered lightly to themselves, like soft, small birds, chirping, merry and low. And God’s pleasure was clear and vibrant, like sunbeams on a crisp winter day.

Then, “Hey, Dad.”

I looked back. They were still holding hands and Meaghan was smiling, warm-faced.

“Do you think we’ll walk Roshini to school tomorrow too?” she said, expectantly.

“I don’t know, honey. Probably not.”

Meaghan was disappointed with that answer, but not too disappointed. She carried on, clasping hands with her new friend, content to share love if only for a little while, her heart large, growing, skipping, simplicity in her eyes.

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