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Tuesday, 06 February 2007

Home Again in Africa - Page 5

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

Along the way, Simon grew tired and began complaining to his mother. Without stopping she picked him up, letting go of Rautia’s hand, and carried him cradled against her bosom. She held his head to her chest as she ducked beneath and around stray branches, weaving innately through the veld. Occasionally she would turn and smile, checking to see if I was still behind her. kids

As we walked, a branch snapped behind Rautia and she jumped at the noise. Startled, she lunged forward and crashed into me. Her eyes peered into the blackness behind her, looking for the cause of the sound. Her hand quickly searched for mine in a panic. When she found it, she looked back at me in confusion, as if she suddenly realized what she had done. It was the first time she had willingly touched me. She pulled quickly away, holding her hand as if she was in pain, like she had been burned. She stood still and stared into my face, looking for reassurance. She asked me about the noise.

“Don’t worry,” Alfeus said, teasing her. “It was just me. I threw a stick.” He was laughing and Rautia pushed him, embarrassed.

“Ryan,” my mother commanded me, “hold your sister’s hand.”

“Yes,” I said and held out my hand for Rautia. At first she turned and demanded that Alfeus hold her hand as well. She didn’t want him to frighten her again. Then she insisted on our mother holding my hand so that we wouldn’t get lost. Finally she looked at me again. I smiled at her and told her that it was all right, that it would be fine. In the faint light I could see her nod and smile back. Then slowly and carefully she placed her hand in my open palm. I closed my hand gently around her tiny fingers and told her not to worry. “Come,” my mother said, and yanked on my hand to get us moving, “the night is here.”

And so, hand in hand, with our mother leading the way, we walked back home again, my family and I.

© Ryan Krogh

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

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