Literary Activism

Harriet Levin Millan

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tedra's Testimonial

In a checkerboard pattern, the Kuch family and our own dragged our luggage up the brick path to their new yellow-tan Australian home.  The house was very open and looked as if they had just moved in.  The only thing that was missing were cardboard boxes full of their possessions.  Then I realized that coming from a refugee camp, what sort of possessions could they even have?  Barely any.  The mother urged us to sit down on the blue couches decorated with printed doilies and pillows.  The shy brothers stood around us and Awiel perched herself on the other side of the room.  After we were settled, Michael went to retrieve the huge bag recently purchased from an army surplus store.  My mother sat next to Michael's mother, who was silently crying, and started rubbing her arm, whispering things like "You have raised such an amazing son," wondering if his mother's nods meant she could actually understand what my mother was saying.  When Michael came back in and sat down, she immediately threw her arms around him in a heap.  She then collected herself by going into the other room and wiping away her tears with the gigantic shaw she wore, one of the several layers she was sporting.  Tea and cookies were served, and the family was able to produce laughs and smiles.  There was definitely some awkwardness, as their Dinka and our English were not easily traded.  We were surprised, however, about the amount of English the younger children knew.  After taking a family picture of the Kuch's, the first complete family picture they have ever had, we did another round of hugs and they watched as our taxi took off, leaving Michael to stand with his family for the first time.


bpies1227 said...

Wow Har! Thanks for including me. Fascinating reading. ~ Beth

cheryl said...

Thanks for including me too. Amazing-poetic and inspiring!!!

ed said...

Great writing Harriet. Glad everything is going well.

Keep us up to date.


P.S. What happened to the scarf Mom made???

Dawn and Evan said...

Tedra, I had no idea that you have inherited so much of your mother's wonderful writing talent. You really captured such a moving, emotional scene so beautifully; it made me feel like I was right there with you! I hope you write some more about your meaningful adventure.


gluedbranches said...

This is just the thing we encountered with the lost boy interviews in the spring. They recounted their experiences to us with smiles on their faces, laughing (at the absurdity) of the past - no matter how horrific the memory.

I'm so happy this reunion was possible!

Harriet Levin Millan said...

Thanks for your comment, gluedbranches. I've always wondered about this contrast myself, and your explanation makes perfect sense. Of course, I do the same thing when I tell a story that is particularly absurd! We all do!