Fiction For Now

I wrote this a while ago.  It is not a true story, not yet at least.  The child in the story, Timothy, is 16 now.  The facts about him are true; we just don’t know what his future holds.  I want to say this is prophetic, but I don’t know what that means, so I’ll just say that it is fiction.  Fiction for now.
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Timothy beams.  His eyes and his mouth smile. He has huge white perfect teeth.  He walks up to me and I hug him and he says, “I am going to university.” 

I feel Timothy against me.  I can feel his strong arms on my back.  Timothy is strong and he is a big man in Uganda. Tall and Strong.  He never raises his voice and speaks always at the same volume.  Always slowly, always cautiously.  But now he hugs me, and shows his emotion. 


We are back here in Uganda once again.  Another year, and we are back again.  The kids are older and smarter, and we are too.  Many things have changed.  The kids have more space, and there are less holes in the green mosquito nets.  I don’t grab Zula’s hands to spin her around.  She doesn’t stand in front of me saying damu! damu! again! again! Now she walks and she is tall with her books and her studying.  She is in fourth grade now and can read and write and do math.  She wants to be a nurse. 

But there are new little ones who grab my hands, and the older kids still bathe them and help them wash their clothes.  Each night when it is just barely too dark to read and play they get the drums out to dance and sing.  Each night the little ones watch while the older ones close their eyes and pray, and Honey, he still rocks the baby to sleep.
Timothy steps back from our hug and he hugs Sonja.  He finished high school at the very top of his class.  He is very bright.  He did well enough to advance on to university where he will study for a degree in English.  Timothy wants to be a journalist.  He has wanted to be a journalist since he was 14.  He is 19 now, and being a journalist may be possible.  When he was 14, it was impossible.  It should have been impossible. 


Timothy's mom was a prostitute.  Prostitution devoured her, and she got pregnant.  A man, paying for her body, got her pregnant and Timothy was born.  Eventually, his mom couldn’t provide for Timothy, so he was put out on the street.  She loved him, but she couldn’t care for him.
He was 14 when he got malaria.  When you treat malaria, you live.  When you don’t treat malaria, you die.  Timothy was dying.
His body was failing. 
He was fourteen, and he was lying on the street, watching people walk by.
Dying. 
It began to rain, and weak Timothy sat in the water as it gathered around him.  And many people walked past Timothy, and they moved to the other side of the sidewalk. 

But Patrick was walking on that day, and he saw Timothy lying on the sidewalk.  He remembered himself being on the street, and so he picked up Timothy. He treated Timothy's malaria, and Timothy lived.


We met Timothy and knew that he had to go to school.  So we told people about him and they agreed that he must go to school.  So Timothy went to school, and he was smart and he did well.
And he wanted to ba journalist.


Timothy steps back from his hug with Sonja, and I am choking back tears. I am thankful for Timothy’s mom-that she was courageous and gave him life.  And I am thankful for Patrick-that when everyone else passed him by, Patrick didn’t.  I am thankful for the people in the U.S. who, oceans away, decided to love and invest in Timothy.  I am thankful for Timothy, who worked hard though his path that was not easy. 
Timothy should not have had a shot at university.
Timothy should not have a shot at university.

But Timothy, Patrick, his sponsors, us-we aren’t a people who listen too closely to the should not and the can not and the won’t.