The tricycle that was still there
This morning I peeked out my window. I noticed something that might not seem earth-shattering…that my son’s tricycle sitting at the edge of the sidewalk was still there. This might seem like an obvious concept to many of you, but I developed a different mindset from growing up in a country where anything left out, or not left out was stolen. It was ingrained in us that nothing is permanent and everything dear to us, including loved ones could be taken in a moment by crime.
Some of the most random things that were stolen were my mom’s left shoe that she had left out overnight, our doorbell that was surrounded by bars on the outside of our 10 foot, electric fenced wall, my pet chicken, a pot of burned food that my mom left outside due to the smell and laundry from our clothes line.
Jewelry couldn’t be displayed in public, car windows couldn’t be opened more than ¾ inch, or the amount of space a gun can be pointed through so that your car can get hijacked stolen. We had multiple cars stolen, even with break/gear locks etc. People were car jacked right outside my house. Once a man stealing a neighbors pickup truck was shot and killed outside my home. I still have an image of the dead man’s arm hanging out of the truck. The crimson red stain on the sidewalk that took a while to wash off.
My childhood neighbor, an elderly lady called Mrs Pells was strangled to death for her television. This was not uncommon. I lived in a society that had no value for people’s lives or respect of other’s belongings.
When I was 11 or 12 my brother and I who shared a bike were out riding down my street and a man came up to us, pulled a knife and stole our only bike. The trauma of having what’s dear to you taken by violence left a mark on my soul.
When I was 15 or 16 my father had an armed robbery at work, where he was bound and gagged at gunpoint and all my parents savings stolen. The effect this had on our family was devastating. I remember being so grateful my father and uncle were not killed because most armed robberies there end in fatality.
To grow up with crime and violence fosters a certain paranoia that everything secured, and not secured gets stolen. Till today I find it difficult to get attached to belongings. When I walk around my neighborhood today I still see people’s things scattered everywhere and still think, “wow it’s nuts that it’s still there!” but my mind has eased somewhat.
So when I peeked out my window and saw my son’s tricycle still there, I smiled. I felt inner joy that I could live with some inner security, faith in mankind to live in a society where my kids will never think twice about tossing their ripsticks on the lawn and not seeing it the next morning. This is what I opted for when I left my country. I gave up close proximity of my entire family and traded it in for having an existence where I don’t have to think twice before opening my window, a deep fear of getting robbed or hurt, a hijacking, an armed robbery, always looking over my shoulder and a 10 foot wall with electric fencing around it. Baltimore might not seem like the safest city to some, but from where I’m from it is what I consider safe.