Friday, March 18, 2022

Microstory 1845: Home

When I was a young lady, a group of mostly white people came to my village to tell us about their religion. We did not understand why they felt the need to do this, and we did not understand their words, but we listened to them patiently, and then went back to our business. A boy around my age caught my eye, and seemingly I his. He was quiet, and did not speak, and he was not white, but he was from the West. It appeared that he did not want to be there, doing this. Now, I’m not saying that these missionaries were bad, but they were not wanted, and we were happy when they moved on to the next village. The following night, the boy snuck out, and crossed the bridge to see me again. It was hard for us to communicate, but we figured it out. I was able to piece together that he was from Africa. I could not tell back then which country, but I know now that it was Gambia. The missionaries had once come to his home too, speaking their words. While they were there, a warlord came through, and tried to recruit all of the young boys to fight in a war that they did not believe in. His parents did not want him to fight, so they asked the missionaries to take him away. That sacrifice possibly saved his life, but he never found out what happened to his family. Back then, you could not simply look someone up on the internet. He always assumed the fighters found out what they did, and killed them for it. Two of the white missionaries raised them from then on, and he had felt indebted to them ever since. But he did not believe in their religion, and he did want to try to convince others to either. He could see that there was a difference between his group and the warlord, but he could not help but also see the parallels. They weren’t being violent, but they were being intrusive, and he did not want to do it anymore.

He was about to turn eighteen years of age, and in their culture, that meant he was a man. Together, we came up with a plan. It was clear that my village and our neighbors were not going to have anything to do with the white man’s God. The missionaries were respectful of this, but they did not like to give up if they did not have to. They had intentions to travel on, and continue spreading their words, but the boy told them that he wanted to stay. He thought my people only needed more time to learn the language, and see the light. This was his special way of getting out of his responsibilities without letting the group know the truth. It took him some time to persuade them, but they eventually saw it as a sort of rite of passage. He was ready to go off on his own, and this was the perfect opportunity for him. When they left, the boy was glad for a moment, but then he realized he had nowhere to go. He was in the middle of a strange country, and he did not know anyone but me. He wanted to go back to Usonia, to start his new life, free from the burden of proselytization, but he had no means of accomplishing this. He had no money, and no connections. I was able to explain to him that it was perfectly fine if he stayed with us. He could work in the fields, and build his own dwelling. One day, he might be able to return to North America, or anywhere else he wanted to go. He never did end up doing that, but not because he was unable to. We eventually fell in love, and after he finished constructing that dwelling, we lived in it together. We had three beautiful children, and seven grandchildren so far. He died a few years ago, and I have missed him dearly. I do not know what happens after death, if anything. Were his adoptive parents right, or are we? I do not care, as long as he is there waiting for me.

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