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Tuesday, 06 February 2007

Home Again in Africa - Page 2

Written by Ryan Krogh
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When I first met my new sister, she was afraid to touch me because of my skin. She had never seen a white person before. Her name was Rautia and she was six years old. When we were introduced, Rautia cowered behind her mother’s legs, only stealing quick glimpses of me from behind her mother’s turquoise dress. I said ‘Hello’ in Oshivambo like I had practiced, but it only frightened her more

At first, Rautia’s mother was amused by all the attention I received but eventually she grew tired of it. Sometimes she sensed my unease and tried to make me feel at home. One night after Rautia refused again to say goodnight to me, she explained that Rautia was afraid of white men because of the things her father said. She seemed apologetic.

“My husband works in a mine and does not have good things to say when he comes home. He tells Rautia that white men are not nice, ” she said.

“Don’t worry,” I assured her, “I understand.” She smiled at first and then looked at me intently, as if she wanted to say something more. Instead she merely held my shoulders in her hands and kissed my forehead goodnight. “Sleep well, my son,” she said. “Good night,” I told her. It was the first time she had called me her son.

A week before my stay with the family ended, as we ate breakfast, one of Rautia’s aunts rushed her little girl to our homestead. Her name was Aamu and she was lifeless in her mother’s arms. The women quickly set her in a nearby chair and disappeared outside without a word. Alfeus and Simon continued eating their buttered bread as if nothing happened. Rautia, however, retrieved a damp towel and applied it to Aamu’s forehead. I looked on with concern. Rautia, who had finally begun talking to me, motioned me over to feel Aamu’s forehead. When I touched her forehead, it was disturbingly warm, like a heated bowl, and she moaned as my hand moved over her face.

“Malaria,” my mother explained when she returned. “Not good.”

(Page 2 of 5)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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