Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Homecoming 1

There were honestly some times when Danshari wondered if they ever would see Ananda and Kanso again. But he took courage from the thought that they had gone searching with George Fox on one side and the Great Bear on the other side, and how could you have better companions than that?

Even so, the days went by slowly, with still no sign of the lost Granny at all.

Sophia kept her children cheerful by singing them Anawim songs that she knew off by heart, and they all helped with peeling potatoes for supper and cooking sausages over the campfire, skewered on sticks.

When she could be bothered to do it, YĆ«gen sometimes made them all hot chocolate — but sometimes she felt rather overwhelmed by making drinks for so many people and told them to just go to the fridge and the cupboard and get their own. So the Anawim children all learned how to make hot chocolate — which is a useful skill, don’t you think?

“Where can they have got to?”, Ebenezer asked Sophia. She felt very shocked when Sophia explained to her that the place they had come from was very dangerous, and it was easy for people to get lost there — sometimes for ever. You could be attacked, and have your things stolen.

“I expect Kanso and Ananda will have gone to the police station to ask the police to help them, then,” said Ebenezer. But Sophia said she didn’t think they would. And when Ebenezer asked her why, Sophia explained that it was the police who had attacked them — hitting them with truncheons (those are special sticks police officers carry), and spraying tear gas into their eyes to hurt them, and turning on big jets of water from hoses to knock them down and make them soaking wet. “The police tore up our tents,” Sophia explained, and broke up our things. They took away our blankets and our sleeping bags, and tipped our rice out of the bags into the mud.”

Ebenezer almost fell off her chair, she was so astonished. When she could speak, her voice came out a bit wobbly because she felt so shocked. “Why did the police do those dreadful things?”, she asked. “Was it just some bad police? Had they been drinking?”

Sophia smiled at her. “No,” she said. “It was just because we are Anawim. They came every day — every single day — to do those things to us. They wanted to drive us away.”

“But . . .” Ebenezer thought about this . . . “where was there for you to go? I thought the place that used to be your home had been all destroyed in a war.”

“That’s right,” said Sophia. “We had nowhere else to go. That’s why, in the end, we came here.”

Ebenezer couldn’t thing of a single thing to say about all this. It was the most dreadful thing she had ever heard. She had thought a person would be safe once they got to the police station. She had never imagined it would all be different if you were one of the Anawim. She began to worry a lot about Kanso and Ananda, and the Granny.

Then, one day, when they had almost given up hope, they heard Buji out in the garden shouting “Granny! Granny! Granny!” — over and over again, like that.  

And up the garden path came Ursa and George Fox with Kanso and Ananda, bringing Shanti (the lost Granny) safely home.

“Whatever on earth happened to you?” Ebenezer demanded to know, just as soon as they had all had a chance to get their breath back and sit down by the fire, and Wabi and Sabi had made them all a nice hot cup of tea. 

Kanso told them that when the search party arrived at the place where their tent had been — thinking that was the best place to go and look, even though it had all been torn up and trashed and their belongings had been thrown about ad trampled by the police — they still found no sign of Shanti. 

But they had found an Anawim man sleeping in a big cardboard box at the roadside, who told them the police had brought a bus to that place, and taken away all the Anawim people who were still there.

This was where George Fox came to the rescue. I’m not sure if you know this, but a fox is a very good finder, good at sniffing things out. And George Fox went here and went there, talking to this person and that, making friends all over the place. He was able to find out where the police had taken Shanti, so they went there to look for her.

It was a big old carpet factory, with a yard that had a high fence round the car park at the back, and on the top of the fence was rolled up razor wire. You can’t climb over razor wire without cutting yourself badly. Inside the fence, they could see the Anawim people the police had taken away; and they saw that one of them was Shanti.

I have no idea what you will think about what George Fox did next. He waited until darkness fell, and found a quiet place where he cut through the wire. They didn’t ask permission, or fill in a form, or anything like that. Kanso just crept in through the hole George Fox had made, and he went quietly into the building and found Shanti, and got her out. It was an escape. They were very lucky nobody saw them. Well, it wasn’t all luck, they were extremely stealthy. But as soon as they had Shanti safely out of there, they hurried away without looking back. And they didn’t mend the hole in the fence when they left. They thought it might be handy for the Anawim prisoners still inside.

Sitting around the campfire, all agog, the animals and the Anawim children and Sophia listened in silence to this story.

And then Serena, in a very small voice, asked, “Did you manage to get it, Granny?”

Get what?

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