Tuesday, March 9, 2004

Where, Oh Where Has My Brother Gone?

Packages from America were rare and wonderful! The latest package had coveralls for my sister Shirley and me. They were similar to overalls except for the attached blouse and wonderful pockets.

I was in the kitchen where Gumtesa was preparing lunch. He and Areti, the houseboy, were admiring my new coveralls. Mother appeared from the house and told me that something important had happened. She said, “Come and see your new brother.”

I was three years old and not informed as to such miracles. I took my mother’s hand and put my other hand in the coveralls pocket. The sun was shining brightly on the newly whitewashed exterior of our home. As we rounded the corner, my mother announced, “Here is your new brother.”

To my great disappointment, all I could see was my two-year-old sister, Shirley, in her new coveralls. But she really looked different. She was standing with our nurse, Abinish. Her formerly short blond hair was nowhere to be seen. As a matter of fact, she was totally bald. This was done in preparation for our long trip to America to visit relatives. Mother wanted us to look our best. She had sewed twenty outfits for each of us, some hand-smocked silk coats and dresses with bloomers. No one would think we had come from Africa.

The one big problem that needed to be improved was Shirley. She sucked her thumb and held strands of her soft blond hair next to her cheek. Since there had been no way to atop her from thumb sucking, drastic measures were called for. It worked!

However, it was a huge disappointment! No brother after all.

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