by Hirwa Lhenry
A letter to my brother Henry!
Thursday, 14th June 2012
I never thought I will be writing to you this letter, I always wanted to tell you all my days and my feelings with my own speech and my own mouth with my odd words, staring at your calm face and eyes was always charming though I feared it just because your eyes seemed to pass through my chest directly to my heart. They appeared to read my thoughts but though I was never good at explaining my feelings and I always loved the way you felt and heard me.
Here I sit on my working desk, I miss you, I miss your hug and our jokes and I remember your tender speech that always echoed deeply into my heart. I remember how in our old days I couldn't stop speaking to you and how you never interrupted or stopped me. When we talked, all my sorrows and my pain always ended with your simple but strong relieving word: You are not alone brother and you can always count on me and I remember how I tried to comfort you and advise you whenever you asked me to. Lately those words have become printed and recorded in my heart and my life sense, and here I am my heart still repeats them whenever I feel lonely or depressed; they always lift, relieve me and turn me on you, they are my solace.
Dear Henry, until these days your ease face came into my mind and I find me talking to you or just wandering in new places, I have never been to, I still laugh when I remember one of our jokes. Like the day I came home late, slept in the open garden house in fear of my family and the next day you did the same when you came from uncle Joseph to play computer game I remember how you screamed when someone entered the garden house, you taught it was a robber or a night gang, funny you found it was my father and he told you: "Shut! We need to wait until someone come out for bathroom so we can impenetrate to the house, I don't know how I will tell you mum I am drunk again, I am I drunk?", you said:" No Daddy you can't be drunk". Oh heaven the day you told us that story, we spent the whole day laughing until we cracked. Oh my God, that picture of you and Daddy in the garden house, sleeping in wheelbarrow is still funny isn't it? The most humorous is when Mum found you and Daddy folded and snoring in the wheelbarrow, the next morning, O look at these little parasite! She summoned us and in everyone face poured cold water to you and Daddy, my mother was serious until freezing water with refrigerator: "We don't accept insect at home, we kill them", you got up angry and insulting until you found it was Mum. Daddy directly apologized in a comic way that we all Do you remember that old trick "All bad feelings and senses sparkle from in mind, if you learn to control and calm your mind you will always pass through them easily and brightly"
I still apply it though it has never been easy, sometimes I find myself in middle of my room angry, sad or sobering over something I cannot control or change but I always have a sense that it just a lesson or weakness leaving my body; But even if I am solo by here I try to fight my loneliness, I spend my day painting our times, thinking of what we should be doing here by then, yes of course I have made some friends and they are great and they find me good and cool but I know that all of me was shaped by the love and care we decided to share and I know, I will always count on you as you will always count on me and nothing makes me happier than being your brother.
Dear Henry, today, I decided to take a paper and a pen and tried to sit on my table, I tried to write something, but every time I wrote a sentence I found myself cramping and throwing my letter to the trash just because it is not such easy to find a simple and full way of delineating the time we had together. My trash bin is full now and still I don't think this last paper I remain with will completely depict every little day we had, I just want to make a sign or a key that will open those doors that time and distance have closed, I still love and appreciate you so deeply, you are a big part of me.
You know, the strange and amazing thing is that you are my young brother, but for long your spirit and heart were never low, you were never easily sad or depressed instead you chose to be courageous and brave; in all hard situations you were the one who comforted everyone at home and we knew we would always find comfort by you side. But, when a situation or someone bothered you, you acted or simply left when you find you couldn't change a thing. You never chose a hard aggressive way and I don't remember a single day with a tear drop on your face even when someone hurt you till you bled, perhaps you hid and cry, but I never saw you down, you were so strong to no comparison, I hope you are still the same, Henry, so unique and singular in nature.
Contrary you always got angry at things that everyone ignored, simple troubles and insults that were taken as a routine, like the famous black Friday when we chose someone to tease the whole Friday at the end of weekly classes as it was always a hygiene day and we spent the whole half day out cleaning the school. You really hate it. Do you remember our neighbor John? He was the oldest of our group; do you remember the day it was his turn! A Friday of March, with heavy rain. Of course you can't remember because none told you that. That Friday of March, we chose to leave school earlier and do our things and businesses. As we called those acts. We run into a mountain valley, the mountain on which our school was built and found a shelter in a half built house, we called those houses our assembly point, we knew all of them and we had renamed them based on teachers we hated most. Those wrecked huts, left open houses and half mansions were remains of the war and were scattered in our region and we always knew we would not miss a place to hid when something went wrong or when we spotted someone dangerous like the Head of our school or one of our teachers, for others we could easily find some explanations to what we were doing, our things and business. That day we had to meet at Billy Hyena house. Billy was our Mathematic teacher and he always beat us because we know nothing in calculations. We called him Hyena because he beat everyone laughing especially when it was one of our group he got by his claws.
I was with John, Hector, Peter, William and Clevis the chief and the most dangerous of the group. We couldn't call you or David because simply you were harmful to the group, it was hard to convince you of our plans, you always criticized them, denoting them bad or inappropriate. We sat on tree in that house and strangely Clevis chose a spot near a river, a well-known and famous in our region because of accidents and dangers it caused when its banks were full during heavy rain seasons, the river was deep and had many falls and the authority warned families and people not to swim in that river or stand near it during or after rain. But that raining day on Clevis the chief's rule and wish, we bathed in that dangerous river and not just for some heroic, courageous or productive way but simply to ignore and defy rules of grown men and because we knew John couldn't swim. We descended to the river undressed ourselves and hid our clothes. Poor John was afraid to death, after a long insulting and tormenting black day, he found himself pushed in the river with his own band not ignoring that he couldn't swim. Everyone enjoyed his fight, supplications, screams and agony. O Henry, still now I regret the person I was. Something went wrong while we continued our chats and enchantments we forgot to follow John and by after when we turned to the water, John wasn't there and the river was flowing calmly no trace of a body in water, surely he has sunk or something else happened, those strange talked rivers animals may have ingested him.
I directed pronged into water while other were still arguing on who will jump first, I caught John unconsciously sinking like a tree log thrown into water. I retrieved him and put him onto the riverside, with special guide and help from Peter, we applied the resuscitation methods, for more than five minutes, finally, John chocked and gain conscious again, he vomited about two liters of water. In fact, the Local authorities in help of Dr. Jules, the local Doctor and Peter's father, thought the whole community on simple resuscitative methods and survival skills, we were there in those training not invited but we were here, although we forgot the whole process. It was a great chance to have Peter in the group, he knew all methods by heart. We spent the whole afternoon in a nearby empty fishers' hut, until John fully recovered. For the first time, Clevis who was more shocked and trembling like fighting a high grade fever or standing and earthquakes though he was our chief and the malicious, took a speech, his first slurry speech we ever heard, 'John, we make you the first senator of the group and you Peter, the Doctor of the group", We could see fasciculation in his palms and limbs, his mouth was dry his eyes seemed to hang out of their orbit but he managed to retain and resonate his authority and responsibility one of the strongest and rare character, Clevis was more than a simple politician in his nature. He repeated his nomination: "From now, John you are the chief of senators and Paul you are our Doctor and General Counselor of our band".
John as everyone was excited by his nomination and bravely hid all the pains he was feeling and said he was okay, perhaps in fear of reversal or simple topic change. We clapped jealously hoping that the same occasion could present to us so that we could gain new titles and medals again, we directly forgot the danger John was in, we were stupid to see how risky those occasions were. Four month earlier I nearly broke my leg falling from a pitfall just to gain my secretary title, by chance it was just a knee dislocation and was replaced easily at Hospital, though I never note a thing on what we were planning or doing I was pride of my title, the secretary of the band, I compared myself to Kofi Annan the UN secretary.
Peter too, spent one week in a Hospital due to bees' bites while he was assigned to harvest honey, without a tool. He was the general counselor before being a Doctor too. Hector burned his little toe with melting plastic in order to be the general of the group, William and Clevis were the author and the founder of the group, the vice-President and the President respectively. They told us they had made too many military exercises, that they could walk on wire and fires or survive to one week in a wild dangerous park for a weak without a problem. We believed them so deeply, we followed every little gesture they did or ordered us to do. We were corrupted Henry, so badly insane. We were little stupid flocks.
We left the river at the sunset and as usual promised not to tell someone about what happened. John got hospitalized the same night for pneumonia and spent three weeks in Hospital. Poor John left our group and later their family moved to town. William who was good at lying and spying followed him so closely until he was sure that John never said or will say a simple word of what happened.
Ever since I have seen John sometimes when our parents brought to town, we paid them visit but every time we were at John's Home, I felt ashamed that I was one of the group that tortured John, I kept my eyes down even when we were playing but he seemed normal at easy as usual. When I got in high school only saw him rarely and finally I asked him excuse before going to University. He accepted my apology and told me it was a hard experience of his childhood but that it was expensive since then he learned to be courageous for prosperous thing and to make good choices. Clevis I heard he is in army; hope he is no longer malicious. I have not talked to him I still have uneasiness talking even thinking at him, but I know he is a better man by now, the problem is he has some regret of who he was, me and Peter plan to meet him, it was our childhood, though it was not ordinal it helped us to change to better persons and we know we can't go back. Peter is in medical school at university of Rwanda, we talk often and he says he wants to meet you. I will give you his contact. Hector, William and John, are there still around? I hope they are about to graduate in High school! I think you are still in contact! how about your projects? I like the one of craft because I can help, I am an artist you know. Great everyone, tell them how much I love and miss them.
Too much to talk you know, please write me back. See you!
Your lovely brother.