Shattered but unbroken

A smashed windscreen offers a chance for pause, gratitude and a celebration of honesty.
Shattered but unbroken

We were enjoying a Saturday morning on our front porch when two tall men showed up. Clad in uniforms with large grass-cutting machines strapped to their backs and holding long rods with electric blades at the end, they looked quite formidable.  They tried to tell us something. We nodded and smiled but did not really understand them.  We assumed that since we were exercising in the grassy yard, they were asking us if they could go ahead and cut the grass.  But they lingered.

It was not until they led my husband, Cliff, and I around the corner, that my jaw dropped and I understood what they were trying to convey to us.  "Oh my," I said. "Oh my!" Our car's side windscreen had been smashed with dramatic Hollywood splendor.  "Sorry," the men said. "Stone, small…cut grass… fly… break car."  It was the ever-calm and optimistic husband who simply said: "Wow, what a surprise!"  To my surprise, I started to laugh. "Looks like there's no end to our African adventures!"

Through the many months of living in Africa, we have learnt to laugh instead of cry in times like these.   As we looked at the glass shards on the ground, we were grateful that it was the driver's window, and not the front windscreen which got smashed; that the stone caused damage to but just a car and not a human being; that for all the months we have been in Africa, we have never had to experience a road accident. 

We were also thankful that the grass-cutting staff came to inform us personally of the mishap.  They could have walked away and we would never have known a thing. Instead these honest men came to tell us the simple truth, and asked us to pass them the receipt from the repairs.

In record time, our wonderful Ugandan car mechanic, Jamil, whizzed over to help replace the windscreen. And within a week, the grass-cutters came to reimburse us for the repairs. Most of all, we were grateful knowing that something had happened in our hearts. 

A few months ago, this incident would have stressed and frustrated us greatly. But that morning, not only did it not dampen our weekend, we were able to see the broken window as an opportunity to be grateful to be where we are, working alongside amazing people whom we are proud to call friends.



Debasmita Dasgupta