The first sound I heard was a dull thud. Then my neighbor, Frank, yelled out “Holy Shit!” I looked out the window in my office which looks out onto the street at the side of my house and heard Frank ask “Is anybody hurt?”
I ran downstairs in my slippers and taking no time to slip on my outdoor shoes sitting in a row with my husband’s shoes at the door. Out in front Jamilia’s SUV was half way into 14th Avenue, as if she were turning right into it, and a old white Nissan was up against the fender near the driver’s door. I ran over to Jamilia and saw that her 4 kid’s were in the back seat directly behind her. Her sister-in-law was at the back door, passenger side, taking the kids out one by one. None of them had been hurt.
Jamilia eyes were red. She looked like she was about to cry but didn’t. I asked her what happened and in her best English she tried to tell me that she had looked and didn’t see the white car coming up on her. Then she continued out into the avenue and he hit her. Frank had called 911 when the accident occurred. I wondered if she had ever had an accident before and if she knew what to do to prepare for the police to come. She was dressed in her hijab and was on the way to services at her mosque in Flushing.
I know Jamilia. She and her sister-in-law are married to two brothers. Between them they have seven children. They live in a two-family house across the street from me and I’ve gotten to know all of them. They are Afghani. I learned this from Lal, Jamilia’s brother-in-law a couple of years ago but they have been in this country 22-25 years. All the children are American citizens for having been born in the U.S. They range in age from 9 months to 17 years. Their name is Barak and have lived across the street for 2 years. I don’t know where they lived before. But I know the brothers own a fried chicken place in Harlem. Lal drives a limousine on the side.
I really got to know the family when the kids decided to leave a card in my mailbox last year. It said on the cover folded in the way you might expect a Quran to be folded:
“Happy Sprg (the “g was backwards) Day”
Inside, this poem:
“Rodis are Red
Villis are bluh
Have a g(backwards “g” again)ood(backwards) d(backwards)ay.
At the bottom of the card was their address: “13-52” There were flowers and a happy face with spider legs decorating the card. I translated the card this way:
Happy Spring Day
Roses are red
Violets are blue
Have a good day
I was shocked that they did what they did for no particular reason that I could see, except maybe to extend a friendly greeting.
The next day I went to Staples and bought all kinds of stickers, pens, pencils, pads and a couple of journals. I bought a box to put everything in and some candy, M&Ms, that they might like. I made sure everything was colorful and bright.
They were all delighted when I delivered the package. The kids from up-stairs and down-stairs came to the door and accepted the box with giggles and thanks yous. I was all smiles.
There’s more to this story but I think you would like me to get back to original story about the accident. I promise I’ll finish the Happy Spring Day story soon.
Now where was I? Oh yes...
Stay tuned for more...Copyright Mary Tomaselli