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What we Play is Life

April 11, 2012
Nya Boot 2

Nya showed up wearing one giant boot the other day. I don’t ask anymore

Today was better.  I only almost cried once.  We had study class at 11:00 and I was exhausted and hungry by the time I left at 3:30.  Maima fed me pepper soup for a third day in a row and I did small errands before coming home.

I sat down on the porch to do work for the prison and Yada crawled in my lap, filthy little pig-pen Yada.  God bless him, though, that kid loves me and is here with me almost all the time.  I’m constantly asking him, “Yada, are those words?” or “Yada, why are you wet?” but he loves to dance and sing so we’re a good pair.  I put my work away and we read Dr. Seuss until Grandpa came and asked me to open the office, now officially the dancing room.  I was feeling tired and depressed again so I wandered in and out while they screamed and ran back and forth on the porch.

I cut Emmanuel’s pineapple to share with them and was just about the tell them to go home when Grandpa grabbed my hand and very seriously said, “RB, you da big boss police.”  He and I proceeded to chase all the other kids and put them in prison (make them sit on the broken chair in the office).  There was music and dancing in prison, though, so it wasn’t super realistic but he was trying.  The prisoners kept trying to escape so Grandpa started play beating them.  Whoa!  Whoa!  Whoa!  “Da na wha da boss man police should do!” I intervened.  Everyone squealed and ran into the yard.  “RB,” Grandpa said, “Let’s wait in the prison.  They will come and we can catch them.”  I wasn’t so sure about this but I went along.  He was right, as usual.

After we’d detained them for awhile I told Grandpa we should go to court and decide if they were guilty.  He wasn’t crazy about this but I let him be the judge and wear my hat so he agreed.  I brought each prisoner up one by one.  “Nyaquay, is it true you can rogue people’s money?”  He grinned and nodded, “Oh yes!”  I gasped, “Judge Grandpa, what should we do?”  He thought for a moment, “He can go.”  Again I gasped, “For why?  The man say he’s a rogue!”  Grandpa just shook his head and pointed to the door, “The man is crazy.  Very crazy.”  “So we should let him go?!” I asked.  Grandpa looked at me like I was crazy, “I na want him here!”  Good point, I guess.  Nyaquay was freed, but captured again within minutes.  So much for justice and rehabilitation.

This continued at least another hour with Grandpa strutting around the front yard in my too-big hat declaring that various kids be arrested.  They screamed and ran alternately from me and to me.  Little Yada cemented himself to my leg in a bear hug and wouldn’t let go.  “RB da police!  RB da police!” they chanted.  I wasn’t sure this was the message I wanted to send to the neighborhood, but there was no stopping them.  I could see the adults next door watching and laughing which made me happy.  I was reminded of my host dad in Kakata and the speech he made in church right before I left.  “Leela was always playing with the children.  And it made them so happy!  I always came home and went inside, but Leela taught me I should spend time with them and it will make us all happy.”  Adults don’t play with kids here.  They yell and send them to work.

A storm started blowing in and everyone left except Yana and Yada.  I lit the fire to warm water and brought the radio outside.  Yana was sprawled on her back, batting her soulful eyes at me.  Yada grabbed my hand and crawled into my lap.  He was so dirty, but as he snuggled into my shoulder I didn’t care.  Life is going to be ok… just completely different, more like Kakata.

“What we play is life.”

~ Louis Armstrong

Nya Boot

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Candace permalink
    April 29, 2012 6:15 pm

    As exhausting as the “munchkins” are how much harder will it be to leave them?

  2. April 29, 2012 7:00 pm

    Thanks again for sharing your words and images. I wish you strength and comfort. The love is a given!

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