After the evening prayer on a Friday in May, I was done with most of the things I had planned in my “To Do List.”  I thought of having a short break, so I made tea and brought everything next to the window on my bed where I wanted to sit. I opened the window. I felt the cold breeze blow softly and thought what a really nice way to spend my break time!  The weather was getting colder as the sun was going down. As I sat next to the window and looked outside, I had nothing in my head, but enjoying the evening and sunset. I looked out onto a calm street with both sides of the street lined with pretty two- and four-story houses. My roommates were in the other room and I could hear them talking.

With the corner of my eyes, a woman of not older than 18-19 years caught my attention outside. I turned myself to see her better. She had on a long dress with little flowers on it. Her face was full of dust, looked grey and super tired like she had been through so much since morning. She had her bag on her shoulder. Her hair was all tangled like she had not washed or brushed it for days.

Across the street she knocked at a house and waited. I couldn’t tell what she was thinking about, but I could tell she had so much to think about as she waited for someone to answer the door. An old man opened the door as she was raising her hand to ring the bell. He looked at the girl, and without even letting her talk, he knew that she was a beggar. He raised his hand and said some sentences that I was not able to hear but the girl seemed to be very discouraged and stepped backward. The man’s face was harsh, full of anger; his expression seemed to say, “I am tired of the people like you.”  He closed the door right after he finished talking.

As she walked away from the house I noticed her bag for some seconds. It was made of different cloths sewn together. Every little piece had its own different color and design.  She bent down and picked a small stone from the ground and then knocked on the next door with the stone. As usual a man opened the door. He looked at her from head to toe as she started talking, asking for something—perhaps begging for food. She was in the middle of talking when he stepped back and slammed the door her face. This seemed to scare her a little bit and she took a quick step back and held her breath. She started to sit down but then looked at the sky as if saying to God, “Did you see what happened to me?”  As I watched her sit down the expression on her seemed to ask, “What is his difference from me that I have to be like this and he does not even understand anything about what I am going through?”  She burst into tears and stared at the ground for 30 seconds. I heard her say, “Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim” as she stood up and walked to the next house. To me it was amazing with the very little that God have given her in her life she still stood up with His name and gave a new start to her journey. She knocked at the next door, and then bent down and started talking to the person on the other side of the door, who was looking at her from the hole through the door. She turned her back and her face was again all frowned. She turned toward the wall of the house and drew a house on it. She smiled at it and in a way was saying, will I ever have one?  She looked around and so did I. As far as I could see there was no one in the street. I looked back to her and she walked away from the house and crossed to my side of the street.

She knocked on the house next door. I couldn’t really see her, but tried to listen to her carefully. The voice was pretty clear. I ran to my bedroom door and closed it because I wanted to hear what she was saying and my friends were talking. I moved back quickly to the window. She had her bag down on the ground and one of her hands was on her shoulder and rubbing it. After knocking on the door several times, someone who sounded like a kid opened the door. He closed the door after some seconds. Another person from that house with a loud voice asked, “Who was at the door?” The kid responded, “A beggar.”  She picked her bag and moved to the other side of the street past the house where she had drawn on the wall.

I could barely see her. As she fixed her scarf, she brought some dry bread out and started chewing it. She kept looking at the wall where she drew the house. With the stone she knocked at the house twice and then rang the bell. No reply! After two more tries her face seemed to say, “This is the same as the other houses but no one is even replying this time.” She tried one more time and right after ringing the bell she walked away and went to the end of the street and turned onto the other street. She was tired and dragging her feet.

I was so much into what other people were doing to her that I forgot to go outside and at least talk to her and to encourage her. Whenever I talk about the weather, hot or cold, I always think of her and millions of other people who live in the same situation. How much longer will she tolerate people, and look up to them when they look down on her? I hope she has a supportive family who is willing to see her with or without food at the end of every day?  I worry that her situation will drive her to suicide if she cannot support her family. I wonder if she even has a family.

It is crazy that there are people who have all of the things and even more than they need, but still they get frustrated, they always want more and more.  They throw parties or do anything to keep themselves happy, but for her, all that mattered was something to eat before going to bed.

It makes me very thankful to God for all he does and has given me. When I think of it, it reminds me that I am responsible for what I do with my future. I have been given confidence, encouragement, and the support I need to step ahead and be the person who I want to be and to feel that I can bring a difference.

By B. Fatima A.