Alexander McCall Smith

“Mma Ramotswe had a gift for the American woman, a basket which on her return journey from Bulawayo she had bought, on impulse, from a woman sitting by the side of the road in Francistown. The woman was desperate, and Mma Ramotswe, who did not need a basket, had bought it to help her. It was a traditional Botswana basket, with a design worked into the weaving.

"These little marks here are tears," she said. "The giraffe gives its tears to the women and they weave them into the basket."

The American woman took the basket politely, in the proper Botswana way of receiving a gift with both hands. How rude were people who took a gift with one hand, as if snatching it from the donor; she knew better.

You are very kind, Mma," she said. "But why did the giraffe give its tears?"

Mma Ramotswe shrugged; she had never thought about it. "I suppose that it means that we can all give something," she said. "A giraffe has nothing else to give--only tears." Did it mean that? she wondered. And for a moment she imagined that she saw a giraffe peering down through the trees, its strange stilt-borne body among the leaves; and its moist velvet cheeks and liquid eyes; and she thought of all the beauty that there was in Africa, and of the laughter, and the love.

The boy looked at the basket. "Is that true, Mma?"

Mma Ramotswe smiled. "I hope so," she said.”


Alexander McCall Smith, Tears of the Giraffe
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Tears of the Giraffe (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #2) Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith
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