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Never Turn a Blind Eye

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Never Turn a Blind Eye

As a mischievous kid growing up in Africa, my mother often said,
“Never turn a blind eye to those who bleed along your footpath.”
Each time we heard that, we rolled our eyes saying,
“Mom, blind people don’t see.”

Whatever the case, she ‘d go on…,
Never ignore reaching out to someone in need, however small your gesture.
She often said, blisters are transient, bleeding is tragic but our humanity is transcendent
It took me decades to fully understand the wisdom shrouded in her words.

On the night of Tuesday June 13,
I was flying back from Dallas Fort Worth to Portland, Oregon.
We took off at 11pm, before long, we hit turbulence before reaching cruising altitude.
It was scary flight, to say the least.

Most adults don’t like turbulence; let alone babies
Behind us, two babies burst out crying so loud even the cockpit could hear ‘em screaming
Their father was speechless and helpless. He was unable to calm them down.
The more turbulence we experienced, the louder they cried.

Initially, we thought we ‘d be done soon.
Little did we know it was going to take over 1 hour 30 minutes of our flight.
For that duration, the Captain kept the seat belt sign on.
Even for frequent fliers, that was one heck of a bumpy flight!

Passengers all around us were getting very restless, restive and fidgety.
To my right, a very “Cordial Lady” sat next to the aisle, visibly worried.
To my left, at the window seat, a very “Nonchalant Lady” swears and curses the babies
In her murmuring, she said something like saying “Damn you babies!”

Meantime, she keeps typing furiously with both hands on Facebook Messenger.
After about 1 hour of flight she suddenly stands up and signals to pass.
Am shocked she has finally acknowledged, earlier, she ignored my “Hi” greetings
Without hesitation, I rises to make way.

Off, she goes to the restroom without saying a word.
While waiting in the aisle I decide to perform some antics
I don’t mind acting goofy to distract a crying baby, that is me.
I started waving at them frantically. Both babies cry even louder at my antics.

Ouch! For a moment I thought of singing a sacred African lullaby babies love
Each time I have sung that lullaby I learned from my grand Aunt, babies stop crying,
It has happened in Africa, China, Europe, America— everywhere
Instead of using my trump card, I thought of trying a low hanging fruit

I clutched my tiny Special 20 Hohner Diatonic Harmonica,
Kneeling on my right leg, I slowly belted out “Nkosi Sikelle iafrica…”
All of a sudden, the babies stop crying and started staring at me.
With an expression that that says, “But who are are you?”

Mystified by the melodious South African anthem, they hold their breath,
As I did same; while piping the song, note after note with minor flaws here and there.
After 120 seconds, I rise to my feet as the “Nonchalant Lady,” returns from the bathroom.

As I turn around to sit down, they babies keep staring with an expression that says
“Why did you take so long to come? Please, don’t go away!!!!”
Before sitting down, I turn and wave at them; their father waves back in astonishment.
Upon taking my seat, I could not believe what just happened.

It all happened too fast I could not process it. I thought it was a joke.
Little did I know my trick could work, to stop them from crying after 1 hour!
About half and hour later, the seat belt sign comes off,
Everyone falls asleep soundly. Alas, the babies were not longer crying.

The rest was a smooth flight, all the way back to Portland.
You could hear everyone snoring beneath the hum of the wings
For the rest of the flight, babies granted us the special grift of sleep

By the time we disembark in Portland, I had forgotten the ordeal.
Hurriedly, I walk through the concourse to go catch my ride.
“Hello sir,” a voice beckons from behind. “Are you the Harmonica Guy?”
“Yaaaah,” I replied.

“ Thank you on behalf of the father of the babies. Your melody came to our rescue.”
“Thanks for letting me know,” I said. “I was just a clown in the air.”
“There are no clowns in the air, only angels. The father of those kids wanted to thank you, but could not find you, so we thought you must be some kind of… ”
“Trust me, I have not wings….” I reassured her.

Her words made me feel like so warm after that long and jaded midnight flight.
Though walking the concourse, I felt like someone on cloud nine at 33K feet
Floating above the clouds, without wings and yes, super scared of turbulence!

That night, a little melody from Africa came to our rescue
That night, it dawn on me that mother was right! Years back, she often told me;
“Never turn a blind eye to the struggles of those who walk your footpath.”
Whether on a footpath or an airplane aisle, we must never turn a blind eye.