Journey to America

Devna C. Langat, Guest Contributer

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I was eight years old when war broke out in my hometown. Presidential elections caused many people to become condescending and portray hatred towards one another. My neighborhood had a slightly narrow passageway with houses lined up on both sides. All the adults stayed outside and guarded over the children who were kept inside. People were roaming the town with large inward curved knives ready to protect themselves at all costs. Stores and churches were being burned down as violent protests took place. Flames erupted into the thick air and the smoldering sounds of burning wood filled the town. The room we were kept inside was small and dark, with about five children. There was a small slit of light where the wood of the door had fallen off. Despite the fact that it was deep into the night and all the children were sleeping, I was wide awake.

I walked towards the door, looked through the small hole and saw parents lined up outside every house carefully guarding the children inside. Standing outside my door was my weary mother and my sister by her side. My mother was in her mid twenties with bags so heavy under her eyes she could barely keep them open. Her frail, skinny body was enveloped in a baggy sweater and her light brown hair was slicked back in a short ponytail. She had her hands around my sister who was standing next to her clutching around her waist. My sister was four years older than me with darker, thicker hair. She always wore a bright smile on her face and was the oldest of three.

I walked back to where I was and sat next to my brother who was peacefully sleeping on the ground. Although it was dark, I noticed the features he acquired from my mother. He had her light skin and her small but rather broad nose. He took her delicately curved facial structure and her tiny sad eyes. Staring at him was like looking at a direct reflection of my mother. Although we were twins, set apart by a minute, we looked relatively different. I sat there for a couple more minutes until I dozed off into a long deep sleep. It was during this outrageous revulsion that we came to America.

I remember the day my parents told me we were moving to America- the land of milk and honey.  Everybody wanted to be in America because it was viewed as this wonderful land where dreams come true. I remember my whole family sitting outside my aunt’s house in Kenya with the crackling of a campfire. I watched as the embers rose into the cool summer night. The stars twinkled in the monumental night sky and the air sounded of the chirping crickets. In the center was a large wide bowl filled with rice, beans and meat. The steam of the food danced around with the smoke of the campfire, intertwining like a coil of dna, and disappearing into thin air. The smell of the freshly cooked rice lingered in the air making my stomach growl like an angry dog. I individually distinguish the different smells of the distinct flavors that went into cooking the beans. First it was the strong smell of tomatoes that nicely complimented the sharp smell of red onion smell. Then it was the aromatic smell of freshly minced cilantro leaves that left my mouth watering for food.

“I heard there are no beans in America so make sure to eat all you can while we are still here,” my father jokingly said.

The laughter filled the melancholy air as we took in one of our last moments spent together.

My dad left three months before us. We stayed in my mom’s village for the time being before we left. I remember sitting outside in the green fields with my cousins watching the roaming cows.

“When will you return?” my cousin, Joy, asked curiously. I can hear the crack in her voice as she tried to  swallow back tears. Her short braided pigtails hung low on her face as she looked at me with her big brown eyes.

I looked down and fiddled with the laces of my shoes. A few seconds having passed, I started to play with the grass and began to pick out single blades. Carefully examining the blade as if it were gold, I said every so slightly.

 “I don’t know…”

The uncertainty in my voice caused a single tear to run down her face and land on the blade. I watched as the heavy drop caused the blade to curve downward and fall off. The distant mooing of cows sounded in the back as we sat there in comfortable silence. I wanted to tell her so much yet the words refused to come out of my mouth. I leaned my head on her shoulder and examined the beautiful scenery which I would soon come to miss. It seemed as though the fields ran for miles. It was noon and the sun was shining fiercely on our backs. The warm rays crept under my skin and tingled within and the slight breeze carried the dandelion fluff across the field.

“I wish I could stay here with you forever.” I confessed to her.

I felt the blood rushing to my eyes as my vision slowly became blurred with my tears. I watched the sheeps and cows graze on the open meadow and the goats carelessly wandering around. A couple days later, we packed our bags and headed back into my hometown.  

Leaving Kenya during such a barbaric time caused me to become apprehensive of returning back. However, seeing all the hatred and anger stored within people changed how I came to treat others. I started to treat people with something many people lacked, love. As a young child, seeing all the brutality of others surely left a scar in my heart, however, I grew as a person from my experience. The kindness of others will forever overpower malice. Each and every day, I always try to live by my favorite proverb. “Kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”

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Journey to America