Loving Soni Mai

March 29, 2017

That was all I ever heard out here in war torn Somalia.
Only one month left before I get to go home
“Night in here!” my commanding officer (CO) said.
He called I went running, “Yes sir?” I asked.
“There’s a little boy, newly orphaned, no family left. He watched his parents and sisters die in an explosion two days ago. I want you to bring him back to the orphana…”
Suddenly I was back to being an eight year old girl.
“Girl, get over here!” papa said. He was always yelling like that.
“Yes sir papa,” he called I went running.
“Bring me a beer girl,” he said while lighting a cigar that made the whole place smell.
“Yes, yes sir papa,” I said and went slowly into the kitchen. Papa got mad when he had beer. Papa got mad at me when he had beer.
“Hurry up girl!” I hurried back into the smoky living room and gave him his Budweiser. “Girl, look me in the eyes!” papa grabbed my arm and yanked me closer to him. “That was to slow, faster next time! Yes sir?”
A tear budded in my eye, “Yes, yes sir papa,” I said.
“And don’t cry girl, it is a sign of weakness,” his cold wet hand stung as it skid across my cheek. Mama was cowering in the corner.
“Night! Night?” I was suddenly brought back into reality.
“Yes sir, I am here. I am bringing a little boy back here,” I said.
“Yes, as I was saying, he lives in Little Rock, about three miles from here. He speaks Cushitic a native Somalian language. He is eight years old. His name is Soni Mai,” my CO said.
“Yes sir, when do I leave sir?”
“Tomorrow at zero six-hundred hours.”
“Yes sir, I will be there sir.”

I ran up to the T-170 tank that was to take me to Little Rock at zero five-fifty hours. My CO was already there and waiting. I got in the tank and headed off to Little Rock.
The noise seemed even more prevalent in the small tank.

I walked up to the small little house. It was made out of logs and straw held together by what looked like clay. I reached a little wooden door and knocked. The door creaked open with a sound of refusal, not wanting to open the door to the outside. In the crack of the door was a small boy who looked to be underweight. I could see his ribs and his pants were baggy on him. He had bags under his blood-shot eyes. He had been crying.
I knelt down to his level, “Hi. My name is Tessie. What is your name,” I spoke fluent Cushitic.
He looked at me untrusting but answered slowly, “I Soni Mai,”
“Yeah, do you go by Soni Mai or just Soni?”
“I Soni Mai,” He looked at me confused.
“Okay Soni Mai, will you come with me? I want to take you somewhere safe.”
“Here safe. You stranger.”
“No, I am a friend. I will not hurt you. I want to give you food and a shelter,”
“I…” he looked down at his bare chest and feet and torn pants, “Okay.”
I held out my hand and he slowly took it. I coaxed him into the T-170 slowly. At last we were on our way back to base. Back to safety. We were almost there when:
A blinding flash of white light.   Ringing in my ears.  Everything went black.
Lub dub. Lub dub. Lub dub. Lub dub.
I slowly can round and opened my eyes. At first everything was black then color came in. I saw Soni Mai – a small boy – lying on the ground. There was a pool of blood around him.
I need to get him to safety.
I cannot let him die.
I moved my arms and my sight went fuzzy with pain. I collapsed on the ground again. I moved my arms again to get up. My vision again went fuzzy. I kept going. “I have to get him to safety,” I kept repeating to myself. At last I was on my feet and in excruciating pain. I did not stop to examine myself, I had a mission, and my mission was Soni Mai, not self-preservation. I took a step and fell onto my knees. My vision went white. Again I got up through the pain. At last, I reached Soni Mai and bent over. My vision went fuzzy again. I kept going and through the pain and the white spots in my vision picked Soni Mai up.
His legs did not come with him.
All I could think was this: I have to get Soni Mai back to the infirmary. I can NOT let him die!”
At last I was there. I painfully hobbled into base, a little boy cradled in my arms, not conscious. People rushed over to me. That’s the last thing I remember before everything went dark.
Four Months Later
I woke up in my own bed to a ringing alarm clock. Soni Mai was in-between me and my husband. Grey. Today was a big day for all of us. Grey and I were legally adopting Soni Mai to become our son. I reached over and softly shook the little boy. He had more meat on him now. His ribs were no longer visible. His eyes no longer had bags. His legs were cut off at the thigh from the explosion. He had two prosthetics, but preferred his wheelchair.
Soni Mai’s eyes slowly opened, “Hi Tessie,” he smiled at me now speaking English
“Come on, let’s get ready sweet boy,”
“Okay.” He used his hands and sat up.
I walked to his room, him wheeling by my side. “Are you ready?”
“Yes, I ready. You are amah now,” he smiled up at me.
“Yes, I will be your amah now.”

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