Except for one of them. His name is Lameen...
I see the other boys running the streets, but he is usually working. Some of the boys get too aggressive with my girls. Not him. Not ever.
When the kids and I went on a walk last week we passed him outside carrying water with his sister and stopped to say hi. Before we walked on, I saw him. Well, of course I saw him, but I mean that at that moment, I really saw him. I saw a sweetness and a grace in his face that captured my attention. I said goodbye and walked on.
This morning I sat in his house with his mother. Wildheart sat beside me. We were surrounded by other African women. We were there to mourn with her.
Yesterday, Lameen had a headache. He went to bed last night and this morning when his mother went to wake him, he was dead. He was only 14.
Sitting in his house with the people who loved him, the grief was palpable. Although Africans are loud and expressive, when it comes to death, they are surprisingly controlled. In fact, when one person would begin to wail, the others would tell them to have courage. We listened when his mother spoke but mostly we just sat together. In Guinea, when someone dies everyone floods to the house: neighbors, friends, relatives. They come to cry and to sit together. At times like that, what else is there anyway?
I'm not really sure why I chose to blog about this one. I didn't really learn anything worth sharing. Losing a child is the same in every culture. It's always horrible. It's always sad. It's never fair.
I guess I just didn't want this smart, beautiful boy to go away without other people knowing that he lived...without knowing that somewhere on a dusty little street in Guinea lived a boy who was gentle with his sister, worked hard with his family and was kind to his neighbors.
Farewell Lameen, you graceful boy.