By Lillian Norma Sookdeosingh
Humanity on a small scale is humanity nonetheless. On a grand scale, we remember the atrocities of the Holocaust. From that evil came men like Schindler who rescued many of those bound for certain death.
More current, was the terrorism of 911. Come From Away still plays on Broadway touting the generousity of a small town, practically unknown to most of the world, that personified the word altruism.
Today, in a much smaller town, I experienced it myself. A small act of kindness. Living with the fear of the pandemic, COVID-19, coming to our little corner of the world has caused many to hoard in the hopes of getting through the imposed 5 day self-isolation ban issued by the State of Jalisco.
Toilet paper has all but become extinct. Shelves upon shelves that once held basics now lie empty of all their goods. Lentils? Gone. Beans? Gone.
Hand santizer? Gone. What have we become as a community? A bunch of hoarders with no care for our neighbors? It seems so.
Maybe not. On Calle Constitutiòn in Ajijic, there is a store I frequented last year to replenish my water supply. Every time I went into that store, I was greeted with a smile by one or more of the small staff. Always. Today was no different. Today, I stayed in the car as my partner went to refill our bottle. While there, he asked to buy two more bottles. Minutes later he came back to the car empty-handed saying he couldn’t understand what they were telling him. I went back with him and, in my limited Spanish, I asked a young woman if we could buy two extra bottles of water today.
“No, señora. No hay agua hoy.” Glancing at 8 to 10 bottles in the rack, I asked, “Por qué no? Hay muchas botellas alli.” Then began a barrage of words, many of which I did not know. All I understood was, “No puedo…botella…porque son para todas las casas.” As she spoke, she motioned with her hand while looking out the door and up the street.
I nodded that I understood they were all for prepaid customers in the neighborhood. Desperate for an extra bottle of water or two, I turned to look at the woman behind the glass who was washing and filling all the bottles. Knowing her English was more limited than my Spanish, I held onto my stomach and struggled as I told her, “Señora, por favor, tengo dolor y mi médica me dice lo que necesito beber mucha, mucha agua cada día por cuatro días.”
I knew I had butchered my explanation using her language but she understood my dilemma. She made a phone call and within minutes, nodded her head towards the young woman who was doing the transactions. “Pero, solo una botella más,” she let me know.
Looking each other in the eye, she understood I wasn’t another customer trying to hoard water but was in need of it due to a health issue and I understood that in giving me an extra bottle someone else would not be getting the requested order. Placing my hand over my heart, I showed her my gratitude. “Mi corazón. Mi corazón,” I said as I backed out of the store. Holding fast to each other’s eyes, we both knew no “De nada” was needed. Mi corazón.