The Peace Teacher

Here is my submission in the first monthly MyBrownBaby Beautiful Mind Writing Contest; this month's topic is "Peace." I've been overloaded at my 9-5 and have not had much time in the blogosphere; otherwise I'd have seen this sooner, I'd have posted the announcement earlier, you see the deadline is tomorrow. I just could not resist penning on the topic. So, here goes, a little rushed but I hope you appreciate the message.

***

Edith was a tall girl with a bosom the boys admired.  Every day, the swish of her skirt lapped around her legs and stirred more than the boys' imaginations.  Every day she allowed her jet black hair to cascade freely around her neck, framing a brown face that revealed God's mastery; everything on it perfectly structured, and eyes that suggested.

Truthfully, that was the reason the Kenya Regional Peace Corps had dispatched her to Kasari Rehabilitation Center.  Of the entire graduating class, Edith had succeeded where most had failed. Her eyes were trained weapons of behavior modification.

When she first arrived at the center, she knew she'd made the right choice.  Her home room had the required basics.  A wooden desk and chair at the front and fifteen small wooden stools scattered in a semi circle around the room.  The walls were a faded green, old and worn, like hundreds of tired and hungry boys had been thrown up against them and frisked thoroughly. This was where she conducted the group counseling sessions.

Every day, after brushing their teeth and washing their faces, the boys would trail in and prepare for what the administrators called 'prayers.' Then one by one, each boy would utter a soliloquy of peace, not a prayer.  Because, at the beginning when she had asked, they all said that God did not exist; that God would not have allowed bad things to happen to them.  So instead, Edith instructed them on a method of relating their feelings, all of their words focused on the future, not on the past.

Each boy was a veteran ex-combatant, having spent a minimum of five years in various units on the continent of Africa.  But Edith preferred to call them her child solders, it was less dehumanizing.  And most times, their spontaneous articulations revealed them to be vulnerable children.

One by one, she reintegrated the boys into the community.  Every day, she greeted them with solace, her eyes searching, penetrating the amphetamine induced haze that kept them awake for days, that had destroyed their capacity for peace, and wiped out their memories of brutal acts, hardening them.  Every day, she taught songs and skits that they performed for everyone.  She helped them feel safe, and taught them how to live among people in peace.  So that when they went to join the others later in the day, they looked forward to returning to her the next morning.

One morning, Taabu a troubled 13 year-old who had survived a bullet to the jaw and was on a waiting list for reconstructive surgery, shortened his soliloquy drastically, from the allotted two minutes to less than thirty seconds:

"The bullett in my leg pains me,
I have no peace.
I want to study hard and become a doctor, so I will give peace."

***
Mama Shujaa.






Comments

  1. I loved the trouble brewing under that misleading picture of idyll. And those final words were the clincher. You have a gift for story-telling. The way you do it is by not over-reacting (see previous post for evidence of that, it was a terrible crime and yet your 'writing voice' remained calm as you described the events). The clip complements the text so powerfully. Did not like the presenter, though. Many thanks.

    Greetings from London.

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  2. I had forgotten how much I get lost in the stories you write. It is more than a pleasure, it is a disembodying adventure to read these gifts you share with us. I'll be purchasing Ishmael Beah's book today. Thank you!

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  3. As always, I so admire how words flow through Mama onto the "page". It is easy to see Edith and understand the boys' feelings toward her. I like her very much.

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  4. Wow, powerful! Maybe the time pressure was a good thing because this is first rate. It was nice to have your piece next to the Child Soldier, your inspiration?

    I just read Tracy Kidder’s The Strength in What Remains which deals with similar topics. It’s not his best book due to some structural issues, but the true story a Burundi massacre survivor becoming a doctor in the US was amazing.

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  5. ACIL: Thank you so much for your compliments. About the presenter, I too sensed an attitude emanating, like he was more concerned with his own corporate performance than a genuine connection with Ishmael.

    Talibah: Great that you popped in again. I know how busy you are and how difficult it is to juggle everything. Good to see you are back to blogging! Ishmael Beah is an inspiring young man.

    Trudy: You know, I like Edith as well. And you know what? I might develop her character and this short story further. After all, she is a unique beautiful young African woman, who could be doing things other than what she has chosen to do!

    Sarah: Time pressure might become my drug of choice. Lately, I've been performing under its influence and doing well, it seems. When I first read about the contest and topic, I knew I wanted to discuss it on the socio-political level. Yes, Child Soldiers provided the inspiration. Thanks for introducing The Strength in What Remains. I'll check it out. Thank you Sarah.

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  6. How beautifully written, Mama! Your way with words in print has always moved me, and this piece is no exception. I feel like every community needs their own Edith to help facilitate a much-needed healing process for our children, and in many cases, the rest of us!

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  7. Powerful, Powerful, Powerful,

    Words the call fire from the skies Mama,

    Much love,

    M

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  8. Yes,this is an amazing piece of writing. The very title 'Peace Teacher' reminds us so painfully that to teach peace is to un-teach the war that has already been educated into them. And some wonderful descriptions...'eyes that suggested...' Beautiful!

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  9. Hi Mama S, just passing by to say a big HELLO, how you and the writing are faring, wishing you a happy festive season Mama S and happy writing! Mwah

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