Friday, 22 June 2012

This is the [Midsummer] story about the long, harsh road to smiling

Heavy rain over Langa.
It had already darkened and the pallid lamp-light outside the big hall barely caused reflections in the little pool of water in the middle of the square.
Chilly air, the damp windy kind.

Then I set my eyes on her. Again.
A girl. She is around 10 years old.
Very bright, very good in English, very well-aware and very very skinny.

Last time I met her (in December) she was devastated.
Completely broken she embraced me, with those big tears falling down her cheeks she whispered "I am so hungry...".
As I held this tiny child, feeling the ribs on her back, she told me her lifetime story.
How she, her sister and her mom fled from Jo-burg to Langa.
How her mom cannot find a job and thus cannot give her kids food every day.
How they are lodgers at someone else's shack cause they cannot pay to have one of their own.
How she asks her teacher at school for food "under the table".
How her little sister cries when she thinks no one is watching.
Her voice crumbled as she started telling me about her mother.
"I am so worried about my mother. I am afraid her heart might stop beating. Because of the sadness she feels... For me and my sister. I am afraid she will die away from me and we will be all alone!"
This girl cried. She would not stop.
Desperation. Complete and utter desperation.
As I asked her if there is anything I can do for her she simply replied "Yes... Could you please talk to my mother? Tell her that everything will be alright... Please..."

We did. We spoke to her mother.

Six months later.
I spotted her at a distance.
I picked her up in the rain.

When I asked her how she is doing she simply said "I am OK now. My mom found a job".
The smile on her face.
It stretched all around the planet, from one side of the universe to the other.
Completion. Just like that.
Endlessness, somehow.
She looked at me without saying a word for a long time. 
"She is OK now. Me and my sister can have bread almost every day."

They have their own shack now.
She asked me to come visit her, at their new "house". Their place.

She loves maths, this little brainy troll.
Reflecting is her thing.
Actually, smiling is her thing.

It was wet.
It was gloomy.
It was humid and raw.
It was cold.

Then I met her.

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