Thursday, March 27, 2008


I didn't know until about 5:00 this afternoon when I was at Casa Uno, but this morning, Saira left. Carlos Omar came up to me and told me that it was just him and Ricky left. I didn't understand. And then he said she had gone. I asked around. Ricky and others confirmed. So after, Abdul and Cristian Guerra wanted to teach me about soccer. Of course, I couldn't focus on their Spanish explanations of the rules. They had to say them over and over. Finally, for a few seconds, the indistinct shock and pain did disappear into the game, into the gateless driveway that we were using as a goal.

In Spanish, the word for fun is diversión. A diversion, a distraction. And it did distract me from my worries for a few minutes. Of course the kids love to play fútbol, to have fun.

I heard that she ran away, escaped from school during a test. I imagined her, white and navy uniform and all, crawling through the hole near the end of the chainlink fence. Now I know that she left in a car, with her mom. Karla saw her go, said she left with only her plastic, shoebox-sized Ayyám-i-Há gift box in her hands and the clothes on her back.

I think Saira was twelve. She may have been just a mediana, but she was my friend. She taught me the handsong with that really fast part, "Hola, comadrita. ¿Cómo estás?" I taught her how to knit.

The other girls tell me that she wanted to go. That she had been crying. I didn't know. I hadn't seen her for a few days. And I ate with the grandes instead last night. I taught her class yesterday, but she didn't participate. Quiet and invisible. So, the last I really remember of Saira was when we walked back from the terreno together. I got a picture of her swimming that day. She didn't talk much as she walked beside me with wet hair and shoulders wrapped up in a towel. Rosa and I were having a linguistic discussion about words like cheque and masiso. I guess I lost Saira that afternoon, somewhere on the road. I didn't know for how long.

I am asking myself several questions: Was I really her only friend, someone else to disappear? Did she get angry with me after I gave her a pretty stern lecture about how to treat books? Why didn't she tell me she was leaving? Because others seemed to know.

But there is one question I just can't get out of my head.

Were there two wooden knitting needles and a small ball of yarn in that little plastic container she left with?

26 March 2008, 7:23 pm