04 November 2005
Remembering Sweet Lisa (Part 1)
I stared at some children beyond the wire fence. They journeyed back-and-forth several yards between a home and a tiny store, settling every once in a while on a patch of grass between the two places. This was their career.
I began taking photographs of them eating their apples on the patch of grass. I watched them walk back-and-forth. I wondered who they were. And I wanted to play.
When my lens would not zoom any further, I drew closer to them, stood on their grass and said hello.
“Auggghhhh! Auggghhh! Auggghhhh!”
They hiccupped their screams as tiny feet ran quickly across gravel and dirt road into the house. The back-and-forth ceased. They moved inside-and-out from inside the house to just enough out of the door to see if the weird talker was still usurping their office space.
I laughed and played our little game of peek-a-boo, wishing I hadn’t scared them. I wanted to think they were intrigued by me and wanted to play, as well. They were genuinely frightened, though, and disturbed that I had taken their grass.
A little disappointed by their not wanting to play with me, I considered walking back to the church inside the fence and taking more photographs of the Belmont UMC youth laying foundation for the soup kitchen we were building in this South African community in Knysna. My head turned towards the church, and I saw a cow . . . in the middle of the road.
And even more beautiful, my eyes caught a tiny little girl in front of the cow checking out what was going on in the church yard. Then she turned and looked at me with every bit of my intrigue reciprocated. I patted the grass next to me, and she accepted my invitation.
I spoke. No screams, no running away. She simply looked at me and inched closer. I asked her name.
“Lisa,” she said.
Externally I smiled, and I’m sure more words fell from my mouth even though Lisa primarily spoke Xhosa. My internal smiles were far louder. Sweet Lisa, traveling with a cow, captured me immediately. My soul beamed. And it still does as I recall this first memory of Sweet Lisa.