TALES OF CLAUDIA
17-11-2016 by Claudia Peli
They found her abandoned in a bucket under a mabati shed in the forest.
A red bucket without handles, scarred by a black crack.
It was a fine morning in July, it had rained all night and there were puddles and mud everywhere. The frogs were hunting insects over water; the monkeys in the branches of the mango trees were spying on the village men.
After dawn the wind had blown away the clouds and it was when the sun and the sky had become so blue and pure as it can be only in Africa.
Far from there, in a room overlooking the ocean, Edward had peeked out the window and asked:
"Then you go into the forest?"
Giorgia had smiled putting the camera in the neck.
The mabati shed was at the bottom of the village, far from the huts, and seemed to come not used for any purpose.
It smelled of urine, and some animal excrement.
Perhaps they were going to sleep the stray dogs of the bush at night.
The mabati was rusty and had embarked at the center, under the weight of a large broken branch; the monkeys sometimes they jumped over and did a lot of noise, then someone came to bring their stones.
The village was called Lalehe and there did not reach the scent of the sea, and not even his breeze.
There was no dry land and beneath the sun rose in the dust and was in the eyes of men, while in the rain became swamp.
Giorgia had chosen Lalehe to discover an authentic piece of Kenya, she liked the sweet sound of the name, she liked the fact that it was a piece of land isolated from the concrete civilization.
The taxi driver had told her that there was nothing there to see, but she pretended not to hear him.
It had started to rain suddenly, they had not even noticed the dark clouds that had come from the south.
The air had become dark and cold and the bright green of nature had died. Their taxi was away, because they meander walk in the forest, and there would not even running dry arrived.
The village men were holed up in their huts, no one had offered shelter to the two wazungu who were hurried to find a little 'dry under the canopy of a mango.
"We hope it will pass quickly."
She had looked up, but the sky was black and the bottom.
He had taken her more to repair it by gusts of wind. But the rain was beginning to creep between the thick leaves and falling on their heads.
"There's a shed over there, under that big tree, you see?" He asked.
"Yes, if we run like gazelles do not get soaked too, huh?"
And he bursts out laughing.
Edward took her hand, counted to three, and they ran together toward the shelter.
There was not even a bench to put a little 'comfortable, only a red bucket and dirty. Maybe you fold you could sit on it.
Edward gave him a football, a cloud of flies rose buzzing in the air. And he heard a noise, a kind of muffled.
"Have you heard? There's something in there. "
"Stay away, maybe it's a snake."
"The snakes are silent, do not you know?" I teased.
He walked back to the bucket and moved cautiously with his foot.
It was heavy, there was something inside.
"Pass me the torch, come on."
He reached behind.
Giorgia came up and said he wanted to do to her, that she was not afraid.
Both leaned over the bucket and she brightened.
The beam of light hit a small dark shape.
He was wrinkled, bony, and he moved.
Giorgia recoiled intimidated.
"And 'an animal?" She asked.
"I think it's a monkey, but do not quite understand. Wait. "He broke a twig from the tree and grabbed his flashlight, then gently moves the creature in the bucket.
"Be careful, be quiet."
"Oh no ..."
He put his hands to his mouth, the torch fell on the ground.
"What is love? It's a bad thing?"
He laid a hand on his arm.
He swallowed and shook his head.
He felt his heart pounding.
"In there is a baby." She whispered in disbelief.
Giorgia horrified, eyes and thoughts were filled with dismay.
He bent over the bucket and looked into it closely: yes, it was a naked child, he was only skin on small bones.
Tucked inside his arm and with his fingertips touched the baby's head; He heard a faint whimper.
"It is not possible. They let him in here to die? "
He looked with disgust at the bottom to mud huts path and frogs. A wall of rain fell in the middle.
A glimpse of the clawed your belly anger.
That morning they had decided to leave the hotel and go exploring the surroundings of the town. There were several African villages in the bush, a few kilometers from the sea: small settlements where people lived a simple and traditional life.
Giorgia was tired of spending your days at the beach, he had not come to Africa just to sunbathe and buy souvenirs: was there to discover something authentic, something that emozionasse.
And Edward felt the same way.
She had told him that she seemed to throw away valuable time to spend all day locked in a golden fence. The oceanfront room had become too small for his desires.
Africa was out there, enough better to open your eyes and stretch your steps.
"There must be something more real than the gate."
"I know, tomorrow we go to see what's in the forest."
"Down there where the sun sets every night?"
"Down there where it comes from the sound of the drums."
And she was illuminated with joy and energy.
Night had fallen, in the dark watching the stars sitting on the wall of the beach, the dangling legs and ankles touching.
Giorgia said he was excited for the trip program, could not wait to see how the Africans lived. From documentaries on TV he had learned a lot, but it was not the same.
"I read that they live in huts made of mud and dung. And the roofs make them with the palm fronds. "
"I read it too. They have no electricity or water. You know?"
"And they cook all together on a common fire, out in the open."
"They live in the past, it's crazy right? If you think another part of humanity lives in the steel and glass skyscrapers. "
They stood in silence for a few minutes, each immersed in his own thoughts.
"It should not be an easy life." He said Giorgia after a while '.
"Of course, they lack everything."
"It depends on what one really needs."
"I mean that if you need a few things to stay healthy, do not look for others. If you are used to always live a simple life and poor can go just as well. "
But Edward shook his head, did not seem too convinced.
"But what do you think, that they do not know that there is a way to live more prosperous? Several Africans work in hotels and homes of whites. The difference between them and us is tangible and have it under your eyes every day. "
She shrugged, maybe he was right.
Perhaps the nomadic and isolated tribes up there in the highlands, far from civilization, they did not need any other and lived a peaceful life and spartan without wanting anything more.
There, on the coast was different, they had noticed right away.
On the beach there were several guys that plague them with money and gifts required. They were pushy and obstinate; demanded mobile phones, watches or sunglasses. Some dressed according to the western fashion, and almost everyone we spoke to had had a dream: to go to Europe to do a lot 'of money.
Edward laughed over there and tried to make him understand that it was not a paradise, Europe, and that several Africans were badly treated in his country. But someone had told him that he was tired of living in a hut made of cow shit. So he had not said anything, because it was not right to break other people's dreams.
"It must be frustrating."
"Strongly Want something and not be able to reach. Dream to go away and stay here forever. Not having the ability to choose. "
Giorgia stroked his shoulder.
"They told me that an Italian girl who worked in our hotel years ago lived in a Giriama village for some time."
"You mean with them inside a hut?" He asked in amazement.
"Yes, he married one of the tribes and moved by them. That means that it must be an intense experience of life. "He sighed.
"It 'too radical choice; I do not think I'd do you know? "
"To love is facing many difficulties. For her will it was not a walk, but it did. I admire certain choices. "
Edward nodded, and thought that his wife was an incurable romantic.
"All right, then you know what you propose? We spend in a bush hut the last three days of our holiday. To hell with the hotel five stars, the beauty farm, the rich buffet of delicacies and everything else. What do you say?"
She laughed because she knew that it was a provocation.
His Edo would never abandon the luxury and comfort of the hotel for four dung walls and a thatched roof.
"Love there are snakes and spiders, you know that?"
He tickled the knee with his fingertips.
He hugged her and called her my treasure, and cuddled under the stars.
The tide was coming in, now the waves arrived almost under the wall. They were alone, everyone else was seeing one animation show in the amphitheater.
Every now passed a guard making the rounds, lighting up the nearby backs, greeted them with a nod and continued along the fence.
The beach was deserted. There were only crabs who enjoyed wallowing in the waves, while during the day they stood in the cool hidden in their holes percent.
Down below, on the ocean's dark skin they could see the dim lights of the boats of fishermen. It was thanks to those men who every day at the buffet were fresh fish.
"Can you count them?"
"No, they appear and disappear all the time. Will be twenty. "
"They go out every night. You've seen their boats? They look like shells, if they themselves digging the logs. "
"I would have a black scared to climb, and they venture out on the open sea without fear."
"If they want to eat have to go over there. The fish is free and abundant, just go and get it. "
Both thought the sea in silence.
In previous days they had seen some older men, consumed by the sun, wind and salt mending their nets in the shade of large trees. Edward had taken pictures and had been enchanted by their skill.
Then Giorgia had called him.
"Love look over there!"
She had told him a man who was walking on the shore, bent under the weight of something he carried over his head.
It seemed a mattress. Only when he was quite close to them they had understood that it was a huge sail freshly caught fish.
"Wonderful! Have you ever seen anything like it? "
The man passed them and Giorgia felt the strong smell and unique beast gleaming deep blue.
He took almost reach out and touch his tail, but refrained out of modesty. Edward immortalized like this: beautiful and curious.
The holiday in Kenya had dreamed of for years.
They had set aside the money month to month, making some sacrifice and some cuts here and there.
It was their tenth year of marriage and had given away two weeks in Africa to celebrate. And who knows, maybe there in the fertile land of their ancestors, where everything had begun, it would have happened a miracle: I wonder if this trip would give them a long-awaited son and not yet arrived.
A shooting star sparkled in the sky, and the desire expressed in the heart secretly was the same.
They embraced tightly.
Giorgia stroked his belly.
The next day under the roof mabati there were a man and a woman crouched beside a bucket.
In the bucket there was a human life, there was nothing in the belly.
Finally the downpour seemed to calm down, he could already see some blue wedge filter in the clouds.
The southerly wind had begun to blow and you took away the bad weather, while the low sky was beginning to rise.
Giorgia had his jaw clenched and eyes bright.
He had not said anything else, just shook his head from time to time.
Edward held her arm around her shoulders and pulled away the damp hair from the cheeks.
They heard light footsteps behind them: the kids who were staring at them curiously.
Edward jumped up and pointed to the bucket, as they laughed and ran away.
As if it were a game.
"Perhaps no one knows. Let's take him beyond the huts, let's see them. "
Edward grabbed the bucket with both hands and lifted him up; other flies rose buzzing.
"Yuck!" He broke Giorgia cacciandole on.
The villagers stepped around the two wazungu who had wet rainy bodies and faces different from before.
Not smiling anymore, the eyes were the dark shadows inside.
Maybe they had angered the spirits shed?
Giorgia motioned for someone to approach.
"Come, look here, you know?"
He wanted to take them by the arms because they were reticent.
Who looked inside the bucket shrugged and stepped back.
Edward asked who he was child, no one answered, not even the women crouched there in the mud.
She then told him: "Let's get him to a doctor, you do not see who is dying?"
He pursed his lips and looked around undecided.
"But if his mother comes back and does not find it?" She whispered.
"Look at him well, did not have more a mother, not even a goat would leave her little like that!"
Already he reeked of death, but she picked him up and touched his cheek with his fresh face and smooth.
Then he said yes, it was the right thing to do.
He saw the compassion and love in his wife's eyes and realized he could not hold back.
"It 'a child Edward, look ..."
She was crying, she bent slightly 'forward to show it.
He took off his shirt and stood bare-chested.
"Come on, avvolgiamola here. Give it to me, be quiet. "
Made it a little bundle, the little girl squirmed and Vagi, Giorgia said he was suffering and, facing the people, growled:
"Shame on you!"
I wonder if anyone understood his language.
A girl came forward from the crowd, she understood the language of whites.
"It is not of our tribe. Someone has left her here, but it's not one of us her mother. It 'outside. "
A puppy that does not belong to the herd. Abandoned to the mercy of a human individual or collective indifference.
It depends on the mood of the guardian spirits.
"Let's get her to the hospital. They do not want it to save her. "
The villagers said nothing when the two wazungu loaded it into the taxi; so I was just a stray, no one would miss, since they already had too many children to feed and care without having an extra that you do not even know where it was checked out. The children began to play with the rag ball, men to tell their stories, women to shake off the rain from the roofs fronds. And all the other pulling her off her lice.
The empty bucket was left on the trail. A frog he bumped and turned him over. When everyone had left came an old woman took it and brought it back into the hut.
The taxi driver looked at the creature in the bassoon and said he knew a good doctor who had a private clinic and cured the wazungu, it was better to bring the little there.
They nodded, did not know the town, and even hospitals. They had to trust.
He had his eyes closed, fists clenched.
He must have suffered hunger and cold for several hours.
The doctor was a young Indian, had the bright eyes and a high forehead. Giorgia when he put his arms the little he asked where they had found her.
"A few kilometers from here, in the forest."
Told that sometimes unfortunately happened: some girls were going to unburden in the bush, then they hid in a hole in the ground their newborns. Or they abandoned them under the plants.
"Because often can not care for it. Perhaps the mother of this little girl was a prostitute or a drug addict. Maybe she not even wanted it. "
It was a chilling explanation, in Giorgia closed the belly in a painful cramp.
Edoardo put his warm hand on his neck.
He checked the child and did not speak.
They sat down on a bench, holding hands.
She wanted to make him a thousand questions: How many days does it have? What did? Is it serious? Heal real doctor?
But she bit her lip and kept silent and let him do his job.
Then he washed his hands and called the nurse.
They spoke in their own language; The woman nodded, he took the child and disappeared behind a curtain.
He heard water running and a slight whimper like a breath.
"I do not know if I will. It needs to be taken care of well, we do it. "
Husband and wife looked at each other.
"Then we leave here with her doctor?" Asked Giorgia hesitant.
"Of course. Did he bring it to the hotel? "
She shook her head, but maybe in his heart was just what he wanted.
"Come back tomorrow morning. Let's see how he spends the night, if he survives. "
She felt goose bumps hearing the last words. Of course he had to survive! They had found her to save her, not to see her die!
But kept it to himself his thoughts.
They made their return to the hotel and fell under a warm shower and long. Then they huddled against each other on the couch on the terrace.
"You have not eaten anything all day."
"I'm not hungry."
"Neither do I."
They spent long minutes in silence.
Had begun to drizzle, they felt the dampness on the skin between the toes.
The beach was deserted. The tops of palm trees swaying in the wind.
The sea had the same gray color of the sky.
"That sucks." She said.
He knew what he meant.
"It happens here too, you know. I often read in the newspapers: children thrown in dumpsters, rivers ... happens everywhere. "
Children thrown to nothing.
Blood and repudiated heart.
"That sucks." She repeated her and laid her head on his legs.
He thought it was not fair at all: she wanted a child more than anything in the world and a woman had just thrown away her like garbage. It was absurd.
"I do not like this world, not even a bit ', you know?"
"Neither do I. My Giorgia, do something about it? A little thing, huh? "
"Yes my love." And he hugged her knees.
They slept until it was dark.
A few stars began to sparkle.
They heard music announcing the dinner served at the restaurant, but did not want to dress up and take to the room with everyone else and to tell what had happened in the morning in the forest.
They wanted to keep for themselves the raw and valuable experience at the same time and not turn it into topic of conversation meal. They did take to the room fruit and rice and watched TV until late.
"And if we had not found us?"
"I've thought so."
"Those of the village would not have done anything, have you seen? Even they were aware of her. "
"Maybe one of the kids would find her and brought her home."
"I do not know Giorgia. I do not know. How do I know what's on your mind of these people? "
She sighed, then said bitterly that if he had not stopped raining them there would never have been in the forest in the morning.
"Now stop please. We found it, we arrived on time and we have to just be happy for that. All right?"
He lifted her chin with his fingertips and looked into her eyes.
He noticed she had been crying without sobs. He kissed her wet lashes and pressed closer to the heart.
The lights went out, pulled the curtains.
The oceanfront room is closed to the world.
When he saw them enter his clinic the next morning the doctor greeted them with a smile.
"And 'alive?" The confident Edward asked.
"And 'alive and better. Come here. "
He took them behind the curtain, where there was a bed and inside the child.
She had been bathed and dressed with a white body. It was tiny, serene sleeping.
Giorgia came face to his little head and kissed her gently.
He did not taste of death, he tasted of something good.
And he felt his nerves relax.
"Look at her Edo, does not seem a bud?"
He nodded and touched her bare feet.
They returned to the clinic every day, several times a day.
Whenever the doctor was optimistic and they could see with their own eyes that the child was getting better.
They gave up safari in order to pay medical bills and not to abandon it. But the days went fast, and on Sunday morning they had to take the flight to return to Italy.
"I do not know if I can do to leave here."
Giorgia said as they strolled on the beach early in the morning.
It was low tide and they were holding hands.
Some crab zigzagged diagonally from one hole.
"What were you thinking?"
"You'll think it's crazy, but I would take her with us."
"I do not think it's that simple you know? Do not you put it in your suitcase and boarding the plane. "
"I know. The important things are never easy. "
They had spoken a few times in the past to adopt a child, but then when you had to get to the point you were always pulled back. He took over the indecision, insecurity, and hope that maybe their baby would come sooner or later.
The doctors who had visited them said he was all right, it was enough to insist and not agonize. But they were long past years.
And suddenly she had arrived: puny as a wren.
He had been earmarked for them? So they found her one morning in a bucket, to save her life and she would take care of her like a daughter? Giorgia if you asked all the time.
"Adottiamola us." He said, stopping suddenly and looking him straight in the eye.
"But honey, I ..." He did not know what to say.
He sighed and looked dirty feet of white sand.
"If we do that we have to do it in two. It 'something too big for me alone. I need you Edward. please think carefully before telling me no. "
Giorgia dived into the sea leaving him sitting on the sand and think.
Collect a human being off the road, save his life and restore his dignity. Love him, raise him, educate him to the values in which we believe.
He thought of this and any other as he watched his partner forever swim among the long waves.
Edward did not disappoint this time either, he loved her too well, and he had at heart the fate of the small bud.
When he returned to the shore, breathing heavily and the water droplets between the lashes hugged her and said yes.
"It will be our angel."
"We are a wonderful family."
They spoke of their intention to the doctor and saw him nod happy.
"I think I understood from the start." He said placing his hands over them, "The adoption will not be easy nor immediate, but I can help you, I've done in the past with two other children."
Edward laced his fingers with those of Georgia and said it was the thing I wanted to do and would not pulled back in the face of bureaucratic and economic difficulties.
Giorgia cradled the child long before you say goodbye. He spoke to her and told her many things because he knew that his heart would understand.
"You are not alone, you know that? Now it's me and Dad. See you soon. "They were the last minutes together. If he held him on the skin of the neck and chest to hold her childhood scent.
They embarked on the plane knowing that they would return to Kenya as soon as possible, to continue what they had just begun: the largest and most beautiful adventure of their lives together.
The small was well and in safe hands. Giorgia held in his hands a photograph of her wrapped in a colorful blanket and a red cap on his bald head. Edward told her she looked like an elf of the woods and burst out laughing.
Behind the picture was a name written, Zawadi, which in Swahili means gift. They had chosen him for their child.
"What are you thinking?" He asked, stroking her hair.
"What we are doing a small thing to improve this world, right?"
"A great thing, honey."
As the plane was pointing straight toward the clouds, over there the tops of the palm trees became smaller and operate so as to mix with everything else in the green of the great African plains.
Edward and Giorgia closed their eyes, their fingers intertwined, and did not stop smiling.
by Freddie del Curatolo
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