A gentle man and a gentleman

2016-10-19 17:24
Paddy Jackson is a retired teacher and has been a member of the Howick Community Church for 20 years.

Paddy Jackson is a retired teacher and has been a member of the Howick Community Church for 20 years. (Supplied)

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Two years into the post-apartheid era, my husband and I, in 1996, moved to Howick in KwaZulu-Natal.

We had bought a unit at Sherwood in Mare Street. The complex, opposite the newly blossoming Amberfield, was still in the process of being built and was about halfway up this steep, short street.

Apart from the steepness, it was a comfortable walk to the Woolies shopping centre, bank and library. But, sadly, the rot of this new era had already begun to set in. The grass on the pavements was waist high and the roads full of potholes, so one had virtually to keep to the gutters.

I had been shopping and on the way back with my parcel of goodies, I tripped on a loose pavement tile, opposite the library, and went flying! I landed flat in a prone position, stunned and badly scraped.

Two white “ladies!” walked past and I heard one say: “She should take a little more water with it.” They laughed and moved on.

And then I felt myself being carefully lifted and held firmly by an elderly black man, my glasses retrieved, incredibly intact, and placed on my face. “Where to?” he asked. I was bleeding profusely from a badly scraped arm and leg, and I had a huge bump on my forehead.

He lead me slowly across Old Main Road across Karkloof Road and up Mare Street to Sherwood. He rang the intercom and when Peter answered, he said: “Sir, your lady wife has been injured and needs to see a doctor”.

Peter rushed up. He thanked the man, offered him some money and a lift to wherever he wanted to go. The gentleman refused and said that our thanks was sufficient.

I forget many things these days but I have never forgotten that incident. If that gentleman is still alive and reads The Witness, I want him to know I still remember.

It was a deed that had nothing to do with colour or creed; it was simply the act of one person’s humanity to another.

Paddy Jackson is a retired teacher and has been a member of the Howick Community Church for 20 years. She has worked with the disabled at uMngeni Hospital and at Sunfield Home. She also worked with Alzeimer’s patients at
Hayfields Home.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  true stories of kzn 2016

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