On Sunday, Naifa and Nawal and I went to Forodhani, to sit and buy ice cream and popcorn, to buy ice cream again and to generally sit and watch. Nawal saw her Turkish teacher, who she didn’t want to talk to, and Naifa almost threw her handbag in the ocean. Nawal and I encouraged to Naifa to order a second bag of popcorn herself, and she did; she approached the counter, jumped so the attendants could see her, waited for the popcorn, paid for the popcorn, and received her change. We talked about cats and witchcraft and how Naifa is afraid of cats’ eyes at night because they turn green, and she pointed to a cat near the ground and said, “Sarah, look, its eyes!” We went to the children’s play area which was the best thing of all because Naifa loves to play and as Nawal spun only her around on the miniature merry-go-round, she blew grand kisses at us. She climbed on the jungle gym and waved to us everytime she went down the slide. Nawal and I pushed her in the swing, and she rode on a wooden horse. For a moment, I was sitting next to the merry-go-round with one child on it, whose guardians were somewhere off to the side, with no one to push him, so I pushed him around and then his two brothers who looked very similar to him got on as well. He wanted to ride a small bike afterwards but his brother had already taken it so he sat in the middle of the path and cried like nothing worse had ever happened—I always forget that kids have the capacity to cry like that at any time of day—so I found another bike for him to ride but his brother got back soon enough for him to take his turn. Maybe it was obnoxious but yeah, I did it anyway. Nawal and I had an eye on Naifa the whole time, and finally she decided it would be okay to jump on the trampoline so she waited her turn in complete silence and some confusion behind another girl, and when she finally got on, she was really happy and Nawal and I , we kept telling her, Naifa, stay in the middle! But she jumped with some hesitation though happiness so there really wasn’t any danger. The entire time I kept thinking, maybe it wouldn’t really be a big deal if I developed wrinkles that poured from my cheeks to the soles of my feet or stopped washing my clothes as frequently because that’s what it feels like sometimes to make sure a child is happy and it can be such a relief. I know it won’t happen and I’ll still pay attention to everything about myself as if it’s all under a magnifying glass, but it reminded me at least of this time when my dad and I went to the At&T store to upgrade my phone—he probably said something that day about how everyone is always on their phone in public places, because he said that a lot, because he found it unsettling. It was my birthday and a few days before I would leave for Kenya, and I wanted to buy a jumprope, and I was probably worried about how much it would cost, but he laughed and said, Baby, I’ll buy you whatever kind of jumprope you want.
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