Tonight I met three gentlemen who reminded me what it is to be selfless.
I’d like to tell you a story. Close your eyes…
Visualize exactly where you are in the world, as you read this, now float up….straight up. Keep going, rise above the daylight clouds and the night-time shade. Light as a feather, and without the weight of gravity, rise into the universe and then turn around and look at the Earth.
Spin the globe around until you are staring down at Africa. Fix your eyes North East. There she is: Egypt. Go there.
Come closer, down through the sky, feel the Earth draw you near…. Cairo….New Cairo….the 5th Settlement…. the Souedi Supermarket, right beside “On the Run”. Now hang a right and walk for 47 seconds. You’re there. You’ve arrived. This is where our journey begins. This is where my faith in humanity was restored at 6:15 p.m.
Ask a woman in love “what is the worth of a diamond ring?”
Ask a poor man “what is the worth of a pot of food?”
Ask me… what is the worth of my father’s smile?
All may answer: It is everything.
My father knew my mother since she was a little girl running around and causing mischief. In their teenage years, he fell in love with her and knew that one day, he would win her heart and make her his wife.
Well, they did marry. They had two stunningly brilliant girls (bats her eyelashes). And then a little over 2 years ago, my mother passed. If you ever knew my mother, then you would have seen the sparkle in her eyes, the laughter on her lips, and the wild, untamed, unbridled, ferocity in her soul. She was the embodiment of Strength and Love (sprinkled with a delicious sense of humor).
My parents designed the house we live in, and they started with one single room: the kitchen. Every doorknob, every stenciled ceiling, every stone served the imagined dream they conjured into a reality.
Needless to say: much was lost a little over two years ago…. and the wear and tear of cooking and cleaning took a toll on my mother’s duel-tub kitchen sink. This is where my story begins…… the sink.
You know that little tray that fits into the drain pipe so the bits of food and such don’t clog the drainpipe? They broke (both of them). This happened a few months ago and I have, since then, been trying to find that one little part of the sink, everywhere. Meanwhile, my father’s heart tugs at the smallest things that my mother, so fondly, picked out years ago.
I called up every one of my contacts who might remotely know where I could purchase it. Nothing. I looked up websites. I drove by stores. I tried to reach distributors. Nothing. What did I have to do to replace these broken drain filter tray thingies?
This afternoon, I chanced upon a website of a store located minutes from where I lived, and scrolling through the page, I found it: a contact number! In my mind, I could hear the hallelujah chorus. I called, I whatsapped pics of the thingy. I couldn’t make out the pictures perfectly, but I got in my car and drove.
I drove to the Souedi Supermarket, beside “On the Run”. I hung a right and walked for under a minute and there it was on the second floor, written in English and Arabic: Hawash Kitchen Accessories.
The gentleman in the red shirt was the nice man who whatsapped me back and forth with pictures of possible replacements for my broken sink tray/drainer – thing. The younger man in the white shirt was an incredibly knowledgeable sales representative that really did his best to explain to me why it’s impossible to purchase a sink tray without the drain plug (it’s not what the parts are called, by the way, I’m making them up cause I still can’t master the terminology).
At this point, my only problem was that the piece I wanted didn’t match the one I had. It looked different. I mean it was very pretty…. but it was different. Then the young man proceeded to show me how these contraptions actually fit into a sink. I took a deeper look at one of the sinks and my jaw dropped. There it was! It was a brand new sink tray/drainer thingy that was an identical match! It was the same one I held in my hands!! It was it’s twin!!! and again, the Hallelujah chorus in the back of my mind.
“This one. I want this one. You can sell me this one with its mandatory drain plug thingy.” The young man who must have been exhausted with me by now was still as charmingly helpful as he could be. “Ms. that’s what I’ve been trying to explain to you. This piece, this brand: Teka [it’s Spanish], it isn’t sold apart from the sink; not even with the drain plug.”
So, in order to buy the tiny little sink tray, I’d have to buy the sink. In the far distance, hung on the wall, was the same exact sink that sat in my mother’s kitchen. This is the sink she chose. In my mind, the solution couldn’t be any simpler: “I’ll buy the sink!” I said to the young man and asked him not to think that I was out of my mind. It was well over a thousand pounds. Ask me again…. what is the worth of my father’s smile?
After quite some hesitation (and quite reluctantly), he agreed. I couldn’t have been a happier woman than I was in that very moment. My mother’s sink would be restored and my father would be joyful in her memory. It would cost me over a thousand pounds but I was willing to pay it. I was wanting to pay it. I was happy to pay it.
But that didn’t happen……
As I sat in the comfortable chair at the table where I would sign the paperwork and walk out with the sink, I had another thought: All I was ever going to use were those sink trays, so I asked the gentleman in the red shirt if the store could hold on to the rest of the body of the sink and donate it to someone or someplace that needed it. Yes…… I walked into a store and caused quite the raucous and commotion. Why can’t I be a simpler client?
As I sat and waited and stared and held the little sink tray/dish/drainer thingy, the young man in the white shirt came back into the store and said, “Ms. I can’t do what you asked me to do. I can’t sell you a whole sink when all you need is this tiny piece.”
With him, another man had entered the store and before I could I ask why (I was so close to my mother’s sink thingy!). The gentleman extended his hand and introduced himself as Gasser Hawash. Ehem… yes… the same name that was written on the store. This was his store. Mr. Hawash said that they could not comply with my request because he truly felt that it would be, and I quote “unethical”.
I couldn’t see what was unethical about it. The products come with rules, I was willing to abide by the rules, but I still wanted to get what I needed. How is he unethical?
It turns out that he had bumped into the man as he was going to the warehouse and in their exchange, he told him about my story and my case. Mr. Hawash came upstairs to see for himself, and there I was in the chair. All I want is to buy that sink, and he refused to sell it to me. It felt like the showroom was spinning around me. I felt lightheaded and at times I was overcome by the virtue and moral standing of these amazing people that I had to work hard to hold back my tears. There were telephone calls. People calling people. Saying stuff…
In the midst of it all, Mr. Hawash told me that he was trying to call a few contacts, to find a way to help me. To be honest, I didn’t understand what was happening. He was giving instructions that I couldn’t keep track of or fathom. In what felt like a heartbeat, sink parts were being unfastened, a yellow store bag was produced and the two sink-tray drainer thingies were placed inside.
After I’d gained my footing, and asked if it was alright that I was allowed to buy them (and without the drain plug either!!), the most hilarious part of it all happened. I asked them how much my bill was and Mr. Hawash looked at the young man and asked “how much is it?” and the young man cracked a small laugh and answered “I don’t know.” Then after some very talented mental math (mashaallah), the number was called: 100 pounds each so 200 pounds total.
In a world driven by the greed, the greedy, and the green; there are those that don’t just work the job…. they live the job. For me, they are the hope of what a nation could be if we all stopped “working” and started “living”. Not only did I make three new friends, tonight, I walked out of the mall feeling a part of Egypt that I have missed for a long time: The unbreakable, unshakable, unyielding Egyptian spirit. It’s the one that stands beside you and lifts you up when you fall. It’s the one that protects you, no matter what the cost.
If you’re ever in the market for kitchen accessories, I highly recommend bringing your business here. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
Hawash Kitchen Accessories
It turns out these kitchen sinks are not as simple as we think. In fact, the next time you walk into your kitchen, take a moment and really appreciate what you have there because it’s exactly like the “skeleton song” we sang as kids: The knee bone’s connected to the…thigh bone. The thigh bone’s connected to the…hip bone.
Okay, sinks are the same!
The sink tray’s connected to the….drain plug. The drain plug’s connected to the drain pipe…. and it goes on.
If you’ve read this far, give them a call and tell them you’ve read an article by “Ms. Amira” and tell them you’re celebrating their kindness and humanity.