Friday, June 1, 2012

A Letter to My Mother

     Yesterday, I returned to my village to pack my hut.  I shoved all my belongings into metal trunks while my host mom sat opposite the room in a plastic lawn chair watching.   Many times her eyes glossed over and tears fell making it impossible for mine not to do the same.

     At one point, I had sent the driver to return a bookcase and table to the school, which left my mother and I alone in my hut.  I sat on my bed and she sat in the chair, both crying as we avoided glances from the other because we knew it would only make us cry harder.

     As I sat, I couldn’t help but reflect and think of how I had gotten to this point.  Here I was crying with a woman and I couldn’t even explain to her how I was feeling because I didn’t know how to say it in a language she’d understand. 
Peter captured this.  It's all in her eyes.
Here’s what I would have said if I could have…

Ma Chao,
     Thank you for all you have done.  Thank you for accepting my ways and thank you for taking me as one of your own.  Thank you for the spoon you gave me on the day I arrived in Demba Kunda.  That day was such a whirlwind that I didn’t realize the meaning of that spoon until much later.

     Thank you for taking me to the garden and letting me sit underneath the mango tree to take it all in; that place was pure peace.  I hope you understood when I breathed in heavily and let out a long happy sigh that I loved it there. 
My mom in the garden
     Please know that my favorite place to be was by your side.  The nights I enjoyed most were the ones I spent sitting next to you under the stars.   Whether we were cracking peanuts, you were painting your feet, or I was listening as you chatted with the other women, when I was by your side, I felt at home.

     Thank you for all the motherly things you did like telling that man not to visit me after dark again.  Thank you for wiping off my face when it was dirty.  Thank you for cooking me tiga sombi, and thank you for yelling my name through my door in the morning to wake me up to fetch my water for the day.  I may have grumbled then, but the thought of it now makes me smile.

     Thank you for your patience and thank you for all the effort you put forth to understand.  I’m not sure when I’ll see you again, but I promise to return. 

With love and gratitude…
Your Daughter,
I love this woman.