Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Parent (11/16/06)
TITLE: Kendi--The Loved One
By Marty Wellington
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What had brought me to this refuse pile would always be a muddle to my young mind. All I could remember was abandonment, torture, and horror. The war-ravaged Ugandan countryside tore me away from home, while a corrupt and sin-filled city severed my heart from love.
Scooping my thirty pound frame into her abundant arms, Sister Catherine carried my diseased body to her mission hospital where I found comfort and healing.
After several weeks, I joined other orphaned children in the overflowing British mission orphanage. For the first time in my young life, I experienced regular meals and baths and the wonder of sleeping in a bed.
Despite these new-found luxuries and the kindnesses of the orphanage staff, my heart remained cold. Being one of the oldest children, I didn’t know how to respond to the babies and the younger children.
Sister watched my self-absorption for many days before she intervened. Taking me aside, she began to teach me about childcare. I learned how to change diapers and feed babies their bottles. We bathed children together and she taught me lullabies to sing to them. It wasn’t long before my confidence soared and I began offering the nurses assistance with the little ones at every opportunity. I found I enjoyed caring for the babies. They reminded me of my own helplessness. Serving them seemed to ease my own suffering heart.
It wasn’t long before a parade of childless couples began to make their way through the orphanage regularly seeking babies for adoption. While I enjoyed readying the babies for these visits, I soon learned that children my age were not desirable for adoptive parents. Despite my ebony skin, I always seemed to blend into the white-washed walls of the orphanage on visitation days.
Until one sticky summer day nearly a year later, when a missionary couple who were grandparents six times over, stepped into the orphanage, and tore down those walls that hid me from myself.
“What is your name, dear one?”
I stuck my chin out in defiance, glaring at the strange white man with the gray hair. “Nasha.”
Sister Catherine volunteered a translation. “Her name means ‘born in the rainy season.’”
The man and his wife drew closer to me and I cringed. Before I realized it, the man had knelt down beside me. His transparent green eyes looked into my mahogany ones. It was as if I could see through him, but I wasn’t allowing him to see through me. No, never.
With deliberate intention, his large hand reached up to my cheek, caressing my face. “What a beautiful child.”
For an instant, I closed my eyes and absorbed the electricity of his loving touch. Then I reached out to that smiling white face and I slapped it with all my might. I would have none of that love—no, it was not for me.
Behind me, Sister Catherine drew in her breath. “Oh, I’m so sorry. She didn’t mean that.”
The man simply gazed back at me—determined and wise. His kind green eyes seemed to envelop me, steadily watching me. “Nasha, you have found a home today. You are going from this place with a new name—Kendi. Yes, Kendi.” Then gently grasping my shoulders, he whispered in my ear, ”Kendi—the loved one.”
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