Stories of Kindness from Around the World

I See You

--by petroskryf, posted Oct 21, 2016

In the country where I was born, eleven official languages are spoken. Yep, not kidding! (I can speak two fluently.)

One of these languages, Zulu, has a splendid greeting: , which means literally: ‘I see you’.

Isn’t this just a magnificent way of recognition? Not just the stereotyped forms of greeting, like ‘How are you’ (and not really waiting for or interested in the answer), ‘Hey’ or ‘Good Day’, but actually a powerful acknowledgement hidden in one word.

And the Zulu response in this regard, is ‘Ngikhona’ – with the literal meaning of ‘I am here’. In this grateful response lies the awareness of: ‘Until you saw me, I didn’t exist. By recognizing me, you brought me into existence’.

It made me think. When my daughter passed away nearly six years ago, I couldn’t stand it when people asked me afterwards how I am. I wanted to yell at them: ‘How can you ask me something like that? Can’t you see it’s almost impossible to answer that question any more?’ The question echoed a hollowness to me.

I realize people mean well by asking these questions. But I also think we must put more thought in our general greetings - by waiting for a proper answer, and by being really interested in what the other person has to say.

There is a beautiful quote of Philip Toshio Sudo: ‘Speak directly from your heart to the heart of your listener, as if passing the flame of a candle.’

Sawubona – I see you, dear KindSpring friend.
Ngikhona – I am here, thank you for noticing me.
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Readers Comments

Sandra wrote: Petroskryf - even though you posted sawubona / i see you in 2016 and this is 2019, i wanted you to know that your kindspring readers are still here for you - ‘ngikhona’. Your message will forever make me actually 'see' the person i am talking with instead of just talking to them. I also understand the grief that is so internal we cannot speak about it; prayer helps immensely. Thank you so much for sharing your message with us on this website.
ama wrote: Deep very deep. It's like searching your soul. Like a greeting shares with someone who knows u so well
ama wrote: Deep. Thank u
Gwendolyn Hawks-Blue wrote: An inspiring and informative message. Thank you for sharing it.
Droundy wrote: I see you.
Thank you.
BJL wrote: That's the best greeting and response i've ever heard, thank you so much! I've been diagnosed with cancer, and don't know what to say when people say the automatic "how are you? " . I think i'll reply with, "i am here".
cynthia mason wrote: I love this because as you say the usual how are you? I am good, well etc. Is getting so tiring and insincere and "hollow" as you say. Thank you for sharing this beautiful greeting!
Sibanda Theresi wrote: For all my life i have used this greeting in the ndebele version and i have never realized the power behind the greeting thank you for the wonderful insight. Sakubona petro
Elsie wrote: Very interesting and beautiful indeed. Sawubona ks friend
123ABCD wrote: That is so enlightening! Thank you for sharing that!

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