These boys melt me

Rashid’s the oldest brother and has a gift for drawing. He can be quiet yet forward, asking for papers, a pencil, colors. Yet he will stop his twin brothers from pestering me when they start to ask me for sweets. When he watches me swinging his brothers around, I sense he wishes he was a little bit smaller so I could do that for him, too.

Hussain is the boy in the striped shirt. In one of our first encounters, he was so excited by all of our high-fiving and interactions that he looked right into my eyes and screamed. I squatted down in front of him so we could be eye to eye, and responded with a scream of my own. That moment of intensity matching intensity created a bond between us. Every time I approach their compound, he comes running up to me, full speed, knowing I’ll be right there to receive him and lift him up into a swirling spin.

Assan is Hussain’s twin. He watches everything, follows his brother’s lead, and whenever I bring pages for them to color, insists I give the baby a piece of paper, too, so he’s never left out.

And the baby! Oh, the baby! He always wants to be included, lifts his arms up to me so I’ll pick him up and spin him around, cries if I give the big boys treats and not him, and got so dizzy the first time I spun him around that he plopped down on his tush and cried. Yet his tears are often quick to dissolve when I call out to him, “Baby, it’s OK! Come here…”

These boys, who live down the red dirt road from me, got to be part of my photography lesson today. (I took all of these shots – except for the ones that I’m in!) This is the beginning of my goodbye… I let them know I’m leaving in 2 weeks. My heart is aching with joy-gratitude-tears, knowing I’ll soon be departing. How do you say goodbye to a place and people who you know will forever live in your heart?

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