Why Have You Come?

My eyes are wide and deep as pools. When you look at me they are the first thing you see.   They have wisdom beyond my years, because I have seen much in my short life.  They have seen more than I can understand. War makes no sense to me, only running from war. Now I stand in this new land where everything is unfamiliar to me.  I look out of my eyes trying to make sense of this place and these people.  My neighbors are gone, my friends ran one way and we ran another.  I do not know if they made it.

I stay home with my mother to help her with her chores, which are many.  My father and brothers go out to make bricks.  They leave early in the morning before the heat gets too bad. My mother ties my sister to her back and puts the laundry upon her head.  I get the water jug and carry it.  I walk beside her to the borehole.  It is a long way. It was not like this at home.

We gather around with the other women and their little ones to await our turn.  I am beginning to know some of the other girls my age.  We see each other often, but I am wary.  I am shy.  I stand at a distance as they play, because I am the new girl in camp.  I do not join in, I only watch with my wide eyes. When it is our turn, we fill my water can. It is heavy now, but I can still carry it because I am strong.  I help my mother fill the laundry tub and we begin to wash the clothes with soap and scrubbing.  Then we rinse and wring them out.  It is hard work because the sun is getting higher in the sky.  We will carry them the long way home and hang them on lines to dry.

It is a hard life we have now, but we make the best of it.  We do not know how long it will be before we will go home.  We only know it is not safe and there is no food to eat there. Here, I see Khawaja riding down the road in cars.  Every day they come while we are walking to do our chores. I do not understand, but I watch with my wide eyes.  I wonder, but only in my head.

Why have you come here Khawaja? When you look at me as you drive by, can you see my soul?  Can you see my pain? Do you feel pity for me? Do you know I am a person, just like you?

When you see my mother carrying laundry on her head and my sister on her back do you think it is cute, or novel?  When my brothers are in the fields making bricks do you see how strong they are? Do you see me with my Gerry can walking to the borehole to get water and snap a picture to show your friends at home?

Why do you come Khawaja? Am I an attraction for you to enjoy? Does it make you feel good to come, to get away from your ordinary life? Is going to Africa to see the way we live on your bucket list?  Am I an item for you to check off?

Or maybe you are to rescue me from my life?  I should tell you that just because my life is hard doesn’t mean it isn’t good. I am not sure I need rescuing exactly…I only want to go home.  Can you get me home, Khawaja? I am watching you with my wide eyes. I am trying to understand, why you are here?  If it is for me, or if it is for you?  If I tried to speak to you, would you listen?  Or do you already know the answers for me?

I try to look into your eyes as you ride past. I wonder if I can see your motives, your reasons for coming? Will you look into my wide deep eyes Khawaja, so that I can see your soul?



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