Fallen Stranger

As I was walking yesterday with my friend Ulrike, I saw an African women a way in front of us lying on the footpath. She was missing one shoe and rocking back and forth in distress. I ran to her and caught her as she tried to stand. She was crying and kept repeating “I can’t walk”. She asked me to answer her phone, ‘who is this?’ a male voice asked. ‘I found your friend, she is hurt’ I replied and then explained where we were.

My friend Ulrike from Germany was beside me holding her bags and missing shoe. She suggested we take her to a nearby bench, so I picked her up and carried her there. I sat beside her on the bench, holding her up as she wept and reached for her ankle. She answered her phone at some point and in between wails of pain she let loose a stream of abuse in an African language. Afterwards she sat bent over crying. A stream of Chinese people now came and went, asking what happened in Chinese. I explained what little I knew. Eventually an English speaking Chinese man and his wife came and helped us call and ambulance.

After a while she seemed on the verge of passing out and collapsed into my lap. I had been wearing the same pants for three days running, so I suspect the ripe smell of them helped keep her conscious.

Her friend had called several more times at this stage, and assured me that he would be there. He came casually strolling up the footpath five minutes later. He was a tall handsome African guy, seemingly more curious than concerned. Hr bent down to look her in the face. He asked her what happened, but she remained silent with her eyes closed.

I gave him her phone and he called her family. “I don’t know what’s wrong” he said. “I am with her now, she is not talking”. He stared at her as he was questioned by her mother. “I will put you on speaker-phone” he said. “Esmeralda”, a soothing African woman’s
voice tried to coax her into dialogue. After a while he held the phone back to her ear. “She ain’t talking” he said, “I am taking her home”.

We convinced him to wait for the ambulance. But after a while he reaffirmed his desire to take her home. At that point the ambulance called me, as he was flagging down a cab. With all of my Chinese friends gone, I could not understand what they were asking or
explain where we were.

We helped him put her into a cab and said goodbye.

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