(Page 17) Resource sheet 3

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This is the story of an elderly white woman. The majority of her neighbours were Gujarati-speaking Hindus. She found their food and clothes and language not offensive, but strange and rather forbidding. So she kept to herself, not wanting to be rude, but uncertain how to make friends.

Her husband had cancer. He became terminally ill and went into hospital. She was alone in the house and there was a knock on the door. It was a small boy from next door. "My dad would like to take you to see your husband", he said. So, grateful for the offer of a lift in the dark, she accepted. The man from next door spoke very little English, but every day until her husband died, he took her to see him in hospital.

The driver and his passenger learned to communicate through smiles and laughter, through photos of family members which they showed one another. When this sort of understanding failed, his youngsters, whose English was perfect, helped out; they used to pile into the car and go along for the ride.

The woman's husband died, slowly and painfully. She was grief-stricken. Her neighbour brought her back home from her final visit to the hospital. A little while later came a knock on her door. It was the neighbour's little boy. They said nothing but went into her front room. He slipped his hands into hers and they sat there together in silence.

Eventually, he went away and came back with his mother. She spoke hardly any English, but put her arms around the other woman and they wept together. Then the neighbour went to the kitchen and heated up some food she had brought and stayed until some of it, at least, had been eaten.

Almost every day after that, there was contact between the white woman and her neighbours until she died. She was so pleased that the children of the family began to call her "Granny", Just before she died, she confided to her priest that getting to know her neighbours was one of the best things that had ever happened to her.

From 'God of All Faith',
Edited by Martin Forward

R2-M3-PAGE 17

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