Sunday, February 9, 2014

I Want Her To Win

She sat on his lap knees bent and clasped around his thighs like a bird with its wings folded. But her squat was lose enough so as not to hamper her movement up and down, around and around. I stared at them in disbelief as a handful of soccer players emerged out of the parking lot.

"Hey dudes, check out those two making out," their voices cracked in collective boy-man giggles, as they proceeded through the gates to the soccer field.

It was a few minutes to two on the first sunny Sunday afternoon after Snowmageddon, perfect weather for the season-opening scrimmage between the junior varsity and varsity boys. I turned back to the trunk of my car, preoccupied by the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation the two were now engaged in. I tossed my handbag and sweater into the trunk and headed through the gates to the field.

They were seated at the rear of the stadium on the raised ledge of the back wall, in plain view through the wide railings. A disturbance in my mind that hampered my full enjoyment of the couple of hours in the sunshine watching my son and his teammates kick off the high school soccer season. So, a few minutes later, after having settled on a comfortable spot and the two were still in the periphery of my vision, I could not deny myself any longer, I got up and approached them, stopping a short two feet from them.

"I am not sure, but do I know you from somewhere?" I directed my question to the girl.

The whites of her big eyes were at their whitest, gleaming like she had seen a ghost.

"I don't know you!" her head began to shake side-to-side repetitively, like a bobble head in a display window.

"You look like you could be my lost niece," I continued with concern. "What are you doing here?"

"I don't know you!" she repeated, standing up.

"Hmmm...I think I know you, I am not sure...what grades are you in?"

"Eighth," she responded. "I don't know you," she added.

"Seventh," he responded.

"Why are you making out, in public, why here?" I asked the middle-schoolers.

The boy capitulated, or so it seemed. "We are away from everybody," he said, angling his head towards the soccer field. I was disappointed with his response. And I wondered about his faulty definition of "everybody". Didn't the figures of parents moving through the gates count as bodies?

"Hold on, let me take a picture of you, and put it on Facebook. Sorry, no Snapchat on my phone, I know you teens love the app because the photos self-destruct."

I was getting into it, now.

"I don't know you."

"Do you live around here?" I persisted flicking the screen on my iPhone.  Both heads shook uncontrollably now; both were now standing and moving away from me.

"Have some respect for yourselves and your families," I said to them as they hurried towards the gates.

I don't know, maybe some inkling of what I said to them will sink in. Who knows?  Teens these days...and the parents of these two...!  I just want her to win with massive respect. Him too.

Mama Shujaa.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Impact Player

Ever present in my mind is that I cannot reasonably measure the dimension of the time in which I got to know her. In retrospect, the three months feel like forever. Because she was an impact player.  I joined the team, she passed the ball, trusting and expecting execution. She was a leader who subscribed to the excellence that resides in all. The force of her buoyant spirit is fixed in my memory.

In appreciation of a coworker who recently passed away to cancer.

Siku Njema,
Mama Shujaa.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Difference Is

Been back home for a solid 14 days give or take and it has been thick - different - wonderful. I say the difference is not just in the lovely weather. It is in the dust and fumes blowing diesel into the already polluted air. The difference is not just in the time some people take to look in your eyes, grab your hand, shake it and say 'habari yako'. Holding your gaze with eyes reddened by the dust and fumes. It is in the hope and prayer that you are truly fine when you respond, 'mzuri sana.' The difference is in what I can feel through the hardened shell of my psyche that has withstood the test of time in America. The difference is in a growing consciousness of a culture that still practices compassion (even with the growing materialism) towards others. There is still so much Human Touch left....