BYE- BYE BAILEY
The time now is 1.15am .I have been on my bed, for the last 3hrs and there is no sign of sleep in my eyes. My only companion is my thoughts of your absence in the team and what the first day in office without you meant, so I chose to write this tribute.
Today, I arrived at office late by 8:45am.I received a rude welcome with an empty table with a plastic chair on my right hand side. The silence was unique in office. In Africa, there is a myth that whenever there was such silence, children were told God had been amidst them.
Before I could sit down, there was a call from the VOiP Phone in office, you helped installed. I t was a caller from Choo Pe(a place with no men).One of your students was finding out whether you would be turning up for training. Relaying the message that you left for the US and may never return any more was like breaking the silence of death of a loved on. His voice was full of excitement and anxiety looking forward to learning more.
As I came to terms with the reality of your absence; the tables were set ready for our usual Monday weekly meetings. There was one empty chair around the round meeting table. Stella had forgotten you had left us. I then remembered your last prayer at the meeting, a true reminiscence of Alfred’s famous prayer. The joy and excitement you brought to the team had gone with you. “Is this what it means to miss a loved one?” were my thoughts. Surely, two years is such a short time.
After the meeting it all dawned on me that your friends in the nearby village who visited the CTC often might never show up at the gate any more. Your good friend the young catechist you trained to use computer and enjoy internet might never sit at the verandah again enjoying the worlds best creation, leave alone see you any more. The thought of moving back home to inform the neighbors that you had left and might not be back to see them and their children or enjoy their food given to you whole heartedly, just like the parable of the poor woman who offered the only coin she had as compared to the rich; its all she had just like its all this poor women could offer you for a meal and were excited you enjoyed it. I was filled with a mixture of emotion and gratitude that you are ready for a new life with clear knowledge of poverty and pain, suffering and salvation, and failure and faith. Surely, Stephen was heart broken they didn’t say Bye neither did the villagers bid you fare well. Yet, they were convinced it was mountains that don’t meet but people do, some day they hope to see you again.
Kevin, tomorrow I will be traveling to Pabo alone. The normal diet of dust from the trucks and Buses are all left but to myself. This is a plate I duely enjoyed sharing with you. The paths and pot holes may never see you again let alone a broken bike by the roadside as darkness sets in. Its imaginable to think you left the superb City Highways, storied shopping malls, classic restaurants full of Italian, Chinese and Mexican foods and came down here for our dusty road side chapatti, pot hole ridden roads and windowless rooms instead of the air conditioned rooms at home. More soul searching is that all this is for the Africans to leave a better life than your ancestors made it. What we will never forget is that during the word economic melt down; there were still fresh graduates of Notre Dame University keeping the virtue of voluntary service and service above self. For we who believe, blessed are the poor, blessed are the poor in spirit and blessed are those who heal the sick for the kingdom of God is theirs; we are convinced that your life is blessed.
On Saturday, I hope to show up at Boma to commemorate our Saturday culture of reading and watching CNN whenever you were home sick.
The Acholi have a saying; ‘its better to serve you greens (food for the poor) better than serving you meat (food for the rich) yet they don’t own it. It could be stolen or got through deceit. As for us in BOSCO UGANDA, your send off was a mild one, yet a true reflection of our feelings for you. I have lived with Fr. Joseph for almost two decades, yet I have never seen him dance, he did it all for you. This time Sister Betty endured the cold around the fire place and it was all for you. In your parcel is an art piece of an Elephant, a symbol of the Acholi people. Please place it where you have your sight on before you sleep and when you wake up. Never forget us, Elephants are known for good memory and physical strength. May this strength be in your spirit and determination to make the world a better place than you found it.
I want to say welcome back to Africa, yet I haven’t forgotten your grandmother asking you to come back home, your friends poking you to drop the African dream to live the American dream and above all the meaning of your absence to your immediate family and the first Christmas without you in decades. That’s why some day, we hope you will be remembered with an African Bailey, names have meaning in Africa, your life and time in Africa had great meaning hence, worth the naming. We miss you and love you like we were born of the same womb.
God bless you and your family
Aliker David Martin