The sky was still dark. I could hear her cleaning her room. I sat at my desk with my head in my hands contemplating the ramifications of what I wanted verse what is best. Summers break is over now. Only 2 weeks. Kids go to school year round with 2/3 weeks break between the terms. It’s the day to bring Gift back to her family. School starts tomorrow and her grandmother will be expecting her. I went to the kitchen to put some hot water in my cold coffee, I had been so sick inside that I didn’t even get a sip before the Malawian instant coffee settled to the bottom and the ever cooling, powdered cream rose to the top. I heard the squeak of her door and her tiny voice call out, “Ode?” (Ode is like a verbal “knock on the door”)
I called back, “Ndanie?” (Who’s there?)
“Mawana” (baby) , she giggled.
I started calling her Mawana the first day she was here and it stuck, now just about everyone called her that.
“Tackelondillanie, Mawana” (your welcome to come in, baby), I said and poured her a cup of (more sugar than) coffee. I grabbed the box of rusk biscuits and we sat quietly dipping the sweet cookie into the muck I drink every morning, and enjoy.
I looked at her bouncing up and down in her chair, enjoying the morning fully. And I thought about what tomorrow morning would look like for her. Hauling water at 4am. Cleaning the entire house. Silence and animosity filling the air. I started to cry. I quickly got up and went to my room. My knees did their now familiar dance to the floor and my head fallow. I cried in silence for a moment before I finally gathered the whisper, “Lord, lead me. Lord please. You have to tell me what to do. I can’t let her stay, I’m not mom material. I’m not responsible enough for a child. I don’t have any money to support a child… But I cant send her away??” I let the tears pool on the concrete floor until my hair was wet and my face was red. In the silence after I heard God.
“Don’t send her. I will provide for you both. No parent can give their child everything that they wanted to, no parent is perfect in their love for their child. Except me. I perfectly love you both. And I will give my children everything their heart desires and so much more.”
I got up. Applied some damage control make-up and went out to Gift.
I saw the sadness in her eyes when she looked my poor attempt hiding my own tears.
Slowly I said, “Do you want to stay with me?”
I transferred her to the school down the street.