When Oralia was a young girl, her grandmother had given her a set of keys as a present. She told her that she would spend all her life trying to find a lock, so she might as well be prepared. Oralia didn’t really understand what it meant, but she was proud to own something so significant.
When she grew up, she had the habit of carrying with her sets of keys – be it for her home, the storage room, the office, even her closet doors. For some reason it made her feel important, granting her a sense that she was responsible for something so significant.
When the economic crisis broke out and homeless people began to appear more abundantly in the city streets, Oralia was saddened by the thought that apart from not having a roof over their head, these people didn’t own any keys.
One day, however, the unimaginable happened to her. She got locked out of her own house. And she couldn’t find the keys.
She had left her precious set of keys on her desk at the office that evening, when in a rush to get home, change and meet her friends at the movie theatre. The office door locked automatically and she was not the last to leave, so she was not concerned about that. But when she reached the front door of her apartment building, she felt her blood freeze in her veins.
City life was so asocial and distant that she didn’t even know any of her neighbours who could buzz her in. But even if she did get into the building she couldn’t enter the apartment. And she would have to call a locksmith to change every lock, from the apartment door, to even the closets so she could access her belongings. It was a nightmare she would rather not even think of.
So she decided to go back to the office instead and retrieve her original set of keys.
On the way, she saw two homeless people, one snuggled in a quilted blanket on a park bench and one sitting at the steps in front of another tall apartment building.
She no longer felt sorry for them not having a set of keys. It wasn’t the keys themselves that made them important; it was what they unlocked. And that is what her grandmother meant all those years ago.