I pressed my forehead against the door of my apartment. After emptying my purse twice in 15 minutes, it was time to admit that my keys were inside and I was locked out.
This happened in 2002. My husband and I had lived in the D.C. metro area for only two months, and we shared a cell phone and a car — both of which were in his possession at that moment.
The closest payphone was about a mile away and walking to it alone in the dark scared me, so I decided to ask someone who lived in the apartment complex for help. I didn’t know any of my neighbors, but a couple who smiled at me a lot lived upstairs and I knew they were home. Nervously, I knocked on their door and the husband, whose name I learned was Hasim, opened it and invited me inside before I said a word.
While I explained what had happened, Hasim’s wife, Aisha, brought me a glass of water and offered to serve me dinner. When I politely declined a meal, she asked me to sit on the sofa and then placed a large bowl of fruit on the coffee table in front of me. Hasim smiled as he handed me the phone. After I reached my husband and learned he’d be home in 20 minutes, I thanked my neighbors and told them that I’d wait downstairs.
“Angela, will you please stay with us as our guest until your husband is home?” Aisha asked while sliding the bowl of fruit closer toward me. “You are our neighbor, we don’t want you to sit alone outside.”
Picking up an apple, I awkwardly agreed to stay. Their kindness was genuine and although we struggled to understand the words we spoke to one another, I felt connected to the generous couple.
In less than 10 minutes, I learned that Hasim, who drove a taxi in the United States, used to be an engineer in Pakistan. He said money as a cab driver was decent in 1999 and 2000, but after September 11, 2001, his business declined.
“So many people hate us now because of the terrorists,” Hasim explained. “People get close to my car and almost open the door until they see ‘Muslim.’ Then they walk away. They are scared. I understand why … to them, I look like the evil men who killed so many people. That was such a terrible, terrible thing,” he said through wet eyes and a tight throat.
In that moment it became clear that although they weren’t happy that I locked myself out of my apartment, Hasim and Aisha were grateful that I ended up outside their door that night. My mishap presented them with a rare opportunity of friendship with a neighbor.
My husband knocked at the door, was ushered inside cheerfully, handed a glass of water, and directed to the couch. He looked at me as if we had been kidnapped.
“Go with it,” I whispered. “We have new friends.”
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SOURCE: The Christian Post
Angela Nazworth writes for (in)Courage and her personal blog, angelanazworth.com. She manages philanthropic communications for a nonprofit, national healthcare association. Her husband works for The Christian Post.