a journey to the heart (3b)

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CHAPTER 3: (con't)

Embracing our new families


artbul1ax.gif (978 bytes)Laughing with my brothers
Dana Jensen
The walls consist of hardened red mud; the floor is simply red earth. As I enter the room, I feel a slight breeze, like an underground coolness. The surrounding earth gives me a refreshing feeling. I can feel my primitive instincts, which developed long before shoes became a barrier between man and the earth. I hear a gentle voice say something that I cannot understand. It's my host mother. My brother Martin calls back “ehhhhhh,” (this is equivalent to “uh-huh” in our culture) in his deep voice.
There are two beds placed side by side. I'm sitting on the edge of one bed next to my brother Martin. On the other bed, Simon and Charles are sitting with their friend Joseph. There is a boy next to me who does not speak a word. He just watches as we talk about our two countries.

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Martin pulls out a scrabble board from beneath the bed. It surprises me to see something so familiar, especially since we were just talking about everything being so different. I am now struck by how we are also alike. We divide the wooden blocks and start to play. My brothers show their intelligence through their vocabulary and quickness. Joseph is having a little trouble, so we help him out; he gracefully accepts.
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My homestay mother preparing our meal
Kikuyu women are strong in character, endure hardships and live a spirited and joyful life.
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The game eventually fades away as we get into an in-depth conversation about the roles of men and women. I feel safe about what I am saying; I know that I can be completely honest as I reveal some secret parts of my life. I become excited as we learn from each other about our different lifestyles.
I tell them that I do not like the way men treat women in Kenya. “How come men don't listen to women and don't think that they can do many things?” I ask. Then they explain to me the respect given to women for what they do. They also become excited and smile, because they see that I am openly expressing my opinions. I feel that they respect me now in a different way.
When I tell them that in America I am free to do or say what I want, they are both shocked and impressed. Charles tells me, “You are very smart,” and starts to giggle. His two brothers join in and soon we are all smiling and laughing.

Read third excerpt from Chapter 3


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