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In the dark living room where I am lying, I hear her call. She calls one of my uncles, but the dark night gives no reply. I pull the blanket over my head, because my ears are cold.

She calls one of my cousins, but the night remains silent. Then she calls me, but no one comes. For a while it is quiet, but then the calling starts again. Now she calls my uncle again, but there is still no answer.

I throw the blankets off me and walk to her room. Moonlight streams in through the windows at the head of her bed. She lifts the upper part of her body and asks me to help her to the bathroom. I lift the lame leg off the bed and support her weight as we slowly walk towards the bathroom. There. I help her to sit down. Then we walk back in the cold night to her bed. I pick up the blanket from the floor where it must have fallen earlier in the night and cover her cold legs. She thanks me and, overcome by guilt, I can only stutter "Good night, Ouma" and go back to my warm bed.


It was December, one of the hottest months in Namibia. The barefooted beggar painfully scuffled along on the hot pavement, raw and cracked feet placed down quickly one before the other to avoid the burning sensation caused by the hot cement. I could feel the heat burn red wounds into the soles, pain shooting up in the legs and then into the empty stomach already torn apart by hunger and cramps.

His mouth was dry and cracked, longing for one drop of water to soothe the sticky tongue hanging out like that of a dog yapping in the heat. The flabby deformed nose wrinkled and pulled his face into a strange grimace of pain and suffering. Small, sweaty tears dripped from a scarred forehead into the small slits underneath thick swollen eyelids, blinding his sight. Hair, hard and chaotic, curled against a sweat--drenched scalp covered with bruises and cuts from being in the way too often.

Then he was gone. We stood at the intersection and I tried to catch another glimpse of him, but cars blocked my sight. I could only see his laughing friends standing at the corner where the sewerage pipes led their way home. We drove around the corner, but turned back. I held my hamburger ready to be handed to him, but he was gone. My hunger had vanished. The dry and tasteless hamburger choked me.

Walking across the Wernhill parking lot, I spotted him again today. In a jovial mood, he joked around with his friends. I clutched my handbag closer to my side and walked past them to the other side of the parking lot. Then I remembered my cold toast-sandwich, which was meant for lunch, and I remembered my longing to give him something to eat and to drink almost a year ago. I turned back and walked towards them. Hesitant, he took the sandwich from my trembling hand, trembling with fear of what others might say if they saw me giving a sandwich to a beggar. Would they laugh at me, would he decline or feel insulted?

A bright smile spread across his face revealing two missing front teeth. I could smell the alcohol on his breath as he said "thank you". I walked away embarrassed, but with a delighted heart.

First published in Sister Namibia, vol. 11 no. 3 & 4, 1999
COPYRIGHT 2003 Sister Namibia
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Copyright 2003, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Peters, Anicia
Publication:Sister Namibia
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Sep 1, 2003
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