I’m often brought back to a particular moment that to anyone else would seem rather insignificant. For me, it was a subtle, definitive instance that I’ll never forget. In 2006 I sat on a second floor veranda of a guest house, sipping a cup of steaming chai tea watching the African sun disappear beneath the tin, dust caked rooftops and towering palms of Nairobi, Kenya. I was seventeen-years-old and it was my first time on the continent. Something about me changed that night and in the moment I somehow for whatever reason felt closer to God than ever before. I felt like I could reach out and touch Him. It was an innate feeling of destiny and my first reaction was to shield myself from it, knowing the sacrifice, danger and unknown that accompanied it. I often wonder at that moment because in it I feel my heart was stolen and was left in Africa. It went down with the sun that night and ever since then I have been drawn back to the continent, over and over in search of finding it again. Each time, I do, but it never follows me back across the ocean. It’s found its home with or without me.
She barely shifted in her chair, each pen stroke centered and focused. Her writing was crisp and clear as I glanced over her shoulder but she never turned from the page. For the first time, her assignment was to write or draw whatever she wanted; a platform of unlimited creativity and self-expression. I watched as she wrote, line after line, the words small so she could fit as much on the paper as possible. After the class had ended and the school day was long since over I asked her if she was done. “Not finished,” she said. I pat her back and nodded because I understood. In fact, in this sense, as a writer myself, I couldn’t identify with her more. She’ll stick with me forever, and I’ll always wonder about the novel she was writing on that paper. As much as I wish I could have read it I kind of like it better that I don’t know what it said. She was an inspiration and an enigma to me. I’m just blessed to have been able to give her the opportunity to unleash the words and phrases she had archived inside her heart. Not one piece of that paper was wasted, she made sure of it.
(1-24-14- Feyaise-Kumasi, Ghana, West Africa)