i remember

i tried writing her a letter yesterday. my words came out thick - a year's worth of prayers and thoughts jumbled into a page.

the truth? i have no idea if she will ever remember me. that doesn't even matter to me. what matters is that i remember her - her timid smile, the way she'd cover her mouth and turn her head when she laughed, how she'd find me every day in the mass of people inside the school gates.

i remember when her and her best friend rose sent me a voice message via russ the one day i stayed home from kibera. i missed some of their most playful moments that day - grabbing glasses for other children and donning them on their face giggling and playing serious: let's go to class, rose said in her thick swahili laced accent. as if the glasses just made them smarter.

i remember the way my heart twisted in on itself when i found their voice message a few months later - comfortable in my air conditioning and with a coffee in hand. it's been months since i've seen her, but i can still hear her counting in swahili - her steady hands writing down the words in my journal for me to learn. i still see her smile of approval as i repeat the words - thick in my own English and stumbling over syllables foreign to my tongue.

on sunday, a group of my closest friends return to kibera. i'd be lying if i said i wasn't jealous. they'll cross a real bridge - steel - instead of gingerly stepping across pieces of scrap metal. i'm not even sure they'll see adah. i'm not even sure if her and rose continue to be joined at the hip. she may have long lost my colorful buff i gave her the last day we were there. rose may have lost those glasses the same evening she put them on with academic intention. as connected as our world is, i'm not connected to this part of the world that captured my heart so completely and sometimes it drives me mad.

but i wrote her a letter - just in case. i wrote her a letter because before i left last year, she looked at me with her wide eyes and right after i snapped her picture, she whispered "will you forget me?"

and i want her to know that's not possible.

 

Posted on June 9, 2011 and filed under africa.