This time there was a woman in front of the supermarket. With a child at her back. A black woman. That is, it's obvious she is a refugee or an immigrant, she's definitely not from here. Italy does not have a local black population like the US or the UK.
As we were loading the shopping in the car I told Carlo “I need to give money to her.”
“20 Euros?” I said trying to test his response. As he didn't object I increased the bid. “I give 50?”
So I went up to the woman. I had to say something first. So even though I say I won't be asking that question, I asked “Where are you from?” in Italian.
“Nigeria,” she said. In Italian.
“So you speak English?” I asked this time. In English.
“Yes,” was her answer.
“When did you come here?”
I didn't ask her how she came. By now I can only imagine it's on a boat. The important thing is to know the details of her story. But I didn't have time for that, Carlo and Lara were waiting for me. So I asked rather the crucial question:
“How do you live?”
“My husband used to work, not anymore,” she said.
“You have papers?”
“Yes,” she said.
Not that it would have mattered to me if she didn't. I just wanted to know if she had at least gotten over that hurdle or if she still had to struggle for that too.
I took 50 Euros out of my wallet. Seeing me doing that, the eyes of the woman opened wide. She sort of knelt down. Saying “God bless you.”
I said “God bless you too.”
I was embarrassed. That look of gratitude in her face was something to be seen. She was so amazed. But I felt strange. Maybe it was guilt. We shouldn't be in such a position “over” anybody. I am not an especially “rich” person. But I shouldn't have so much more when others have so little.
It's strange... that someone, a human being can be so... I cannot even find the word... It was so little for me, but obviously so much for her... Or maybe her response was to the fact that someone just handed money to her. No lo so.
I didn't give that expecting any gratitude. But I guess I got it nonetheless.
I took a couple of steps to have a look at the baby at her back. She had braids in her curly hair. She was sleeping. “How old is she?” I asked.
“9 months,” said the woman.
“What's her name?”
“Benedetta.” So her name is“Blessed”.
I should have asked the woman's name as well. I should have talked to her more, gone to see where she lived, learnt more about her life.
Being blessed by someone makes you happy; feeling blessed for the things or rather the people I have in my life is so good too. But it's not enough. This is not about our ego or our generosity. This is about everybody's right to have a fair share of this earth we were all born on. This is about everybody's right to move freely -be it for running away from danger be it in pursuit of happiness. This is about everybody having enough and more than enough.
And this is about those of us who “haves” not being able to sit too comfortably until the “have-nots” have too.