The Family Portrait

In this photo, we stand with Abdoulkarim and Heini’s family, including their children Hamza, Arouna, Hassana, and Abdoulrazac. I really appreciate Abdoulkarim’s smile in this photo. As I mentioned in my last post, he is often stern. This sterness hides the kindness and gentleness of this man, who more than once has lovingly taken his or my children by the hand or carried them during our donkey walks. I think that most of the time, he is simply tired, worn down by life and responsibility. Rare are the days that he is not hard at work, lugging around chairs for parties, or furniture to transport from one house to another. One very early morning… hardly past six… I ran into him during a neighborhood walk, shoveling trash out of a street. He had likely been comissioned to do this work for less than a dollar. I snuck a picture. He spotted me and laughed. The rare times I see him sitting around at home, he is restless. He would prefer to be working and earning money for his family. But he does not always have a job, and the amount he earns every month is unpredictable.

Abdoulkarim and his family have literally grown to be a second family to me. As I’ve mentioned before, Arouna and Hassana likely spend as much if not more time at my place than at their home. Hamza has adopted me as his auntie. While I cannot speak to Abdoulkarim and Heini directly, I respect them and care for them deeply. And all this love is thanks to our dear deceased donkey Zorro!

Note: In my next posts, I will be taking a break from my neighborhood series to introduce my most recent short story. Stay tuned!