Thursday, July 16, 2020

with perspective

"I had grown up in a home where I had been made to believe that it was a lowly thing for an intelligent young woman with a good education to visit the open market. That was for the peasants and the laborers who lacked the money to buy elsewhere. I had not known much about the markets, but I discovered that many of the merchants were women who had only flawed goods to sell. They offered overripe, half-rotten fruits and vegetables, or food too dry to be sold at any other place. "These are cheap and good!" they would shout all day long in a frantic effort to get customers. "Cheap! Cheap! Extremely cheap!"
After crying out continually, their voices were hoarse, but still there were few customers. Those who did want to buy would haggle over the price until tempers raged and the quarreling was bitter. The eyes of the market vendors were tired and dull, and the stench of unwashed bodies and rotting food was in their clothes. Although they were women, their voices were as coarse and harsh as men's.
I would visit those poor, unhappy merchants, often buying their remaining goods at the same price I would pay for unspoiled food. I witnessed to them, and they listened to me.
My actions would have seemed extremely strange to anyone who may have been watching me. Every day I went over the food I had bought, sorting out the decaying vegetables and fruits, the dried rice cakes, and those things most people would have considered unfit to eat. Those I saved for myself. The rest I gave to my mother, who ate very little, and to the neighbors. 
Tears moistened Mother's eyes as she watched me, but she quickly understood. In prison I knew they would serve me rotten beans and millet, so that is what I bought and ate. At first my sister cried when she saw the food I had selected for myself. Gradually, however, she, too, came to see the reason for my actions." ~ Esther Ahn Kim, If I Perish (Referenced in Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God, by Noël Piper)

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