Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: The Family Home (05/29/08)
- TITLE: My Home Away From Home
By Lauren Page
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It was 9:00pm. I had taken some fruit in the market, yet I didn’t notice the single officer standing in the shadows of the alley. Before I had time to retreat, he had already seen me and had drawn his 9mm. The rain was blinding as I ran faster and faster; knowing that if I even tripped, it would be all over.
I had arrived in Luxor not two weeks ago. My squad was gathering supplies and information from our platoon stationed in Sohag. While we were there, our platoon was attacked and our squad was separated. I was knocked-out from a piece of large shrapnel after a bomb destroyed our humvee.
I awoke to find myself in an old, apartment type complex. A short, stout woman placed a cool cloth on my forehead, and gave me a warm smile. I observed her as she poked at the small fire in the fire place. I tried to sit up, my head throbbing. She came over and gently pushed me back, speaking in a language I was not familiar with; yet somehow, I knew what she was trying to say.
From then on, I have stayed with this unfamiliar woman and her family. I met her three sons, whom I found their names to be: Donkor, Akiiki, and Meti. Akiiki, the middle boy, was at home or with his older brother Donkor most of the day. Meti, the youngest, was always at home with his mother. And Donkor, he had the most important job: making sure the family doesn’t starve. I don’t know how, yet the father seemed to have passed away not too long ago (I would watch the woman cry every night after the children were asleep). So the responsibility of collecting pay and gathering food fell onto Donkor’s shoulders. Now, he was not old enough to have a job. No job, no food.
After I was well enough, Akiiki showed me around the house and neighborhood. He introduced me to his friends, and we all played their version of soccer. Meti showed me how to make their version of bread (which was amazing compared to Sarah Lee).
One night, I was awakened by Donkor. He motioned to me to come with him into the market. I followed, and we both moved swiftly into the shadows and on rooftops. We stopped above a stand with fruit and vegetables. Donkor gave me the universal sign of quiet with his finger over his lips. As I watched, he took a rock out of his pocket, and threw it across the street. It collided with a lamp; it shattered, people focused their attention upon the glass on the ground. Donkor quickly reached down and grabbed a couple of fruit and vegetables, and retreated before anyone had a chance to blink. He waved at me to move quickly, and so we made our way back to the house.
Over the next week, Donkor taught me how to “gather food” with him. Donkor had warned me about the local police. He had showed scars on his wrists (most likely from handcuffs); he also pointed to their 9mm’s and made a shooting noise. He took a picture out of his pocket. It was his brothers and mother; and next to her, his father. He pointed to his father, and made the shooting noise. I started to cry. I then knew that I had to do anything I could for this family. They made me a part of their family, and I felt like I had a home away from home.
As the rain stung my now numb face, I kept hearing the gun fire from the police officer. I couldn’t get the thought of my family and friends out of my mind. I had missed them very much, yet I had already grasped the fact that I was never going to see them again. As I stepped on one roof, it gave way. I fell for what seemed liked miles, and then made an impact with sand. As I sat up, I felt the cold barrel of a 9mm against my neck. I closed my eyes, and prayed. I heard a shot. I opened my eyes to find the officer down; Donkor with a gun in his hand. He gave me his hand, and said in English, “Don’t do that again, brother.”
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