I’m reading a book by Malcolm Gladwell called ‘Blink’. The essence of the book is that we, every single person, has a sixth sense, a sort of feeling about things. When we see something, someone, or a situation, we have an idea or opinion about it in the first second. This is usually at a subconscious level and we are not really aware that the idea or opinion is forming. This is what people usually refer to as instinct.
Yesterday, Kendi, my friend Mumbi, and I were on our way to a fun event. As we were driving along, we suddenly saw a white man (his race is important to this story) and a woman (she was definitely Kenyan) carry a woman who had passed out across the road. There was another woman there as well who looked like she was with the man. I immediately stopped and asked what was going on.
‘She passed out’, the man said from across the road.
‘Anahitaji dawa ya epilepsy’ (she needs medicine for epilepsy), the first woman added.
‘She’s had an epileptic fit?’ I asked the group.
‘Yes, it looks like’, they replied.
‘Wa! Where is the medicine being gotten?’ I asked. At this point, the man was giving the first woman 1000shs. I looked on in bewilderment. Why was he giving her money? I thought to myself. How strange, I thought. Is that for the medicine? How did he know she needed the money? Did she ask him for it? All this went through my head in the same time it took me to ask the question.
‘Kenyatta’, the woman answered. Just as she was putting the money away, the woman who had fainted, woke up. She looked around confused and she had something that looked like foam in and around her mouth.
‘We shall call an ambulance for you.’ I said
‘Can you help take them to the hospital?’ the man asked.
‘Tafadhali tusaidie,’ the woman added (please help us)
‘No, I’m afraid not. We shall call a taxi or an ambulance’, I answered and we left.
The whole scene did not seem right to me. There were 2 women who looked (from their dress) that they were lower class and a couple who seemed (again from their dress) that they were upper middle to upper class. One person was white. There was an epileptic fit from which the person woke as soon as money was exchanged (the coincidence of that was too much for me). There was money exchanging hands for what, I could not ascertain. There was one woman who wasn’t talking at all. To add, we were in an uptown neighborhood.
And I had my baby in the car.
I had a ‘blink’ moment and decided, ‘there’s no way I’m letting any of these people into my space. I don’t know what’s going on here. I need to protect Kendi from whatever this is.’
I didn’t used to be this way, I’d see someone in need and offer to help. Once, I walked with a lady who looked like she was sick, all the way across town. But I didn’t have Kendi then and I didn’t feel this massive need to protect her with my life.
So there we have it, I am selfish…ish.