Francis Engedi

Born: 2004,
Died: May 10, 2006 
It was in the late afternoon of the 10th of May that Alidya returned alone from the hospital. Getting to dinnertime no-one took particular interest in her for when it is time to eat everyone one way or another is involved in the ‘eating act’. So it took time before she found another caregiver to tell her the bad news: Francis just died. Slowly the word went around and the kitchen sounds silenced out. Emanuel jumped into the action mode and I noticed that the facial expression of all the males of the community included the older children had changed into one of almost grim decisiveness. Before the rain, fast, we need to bury him. It was true, wild purple clouds were coming together and piling up for a real good tropical storm. Osei came into the scene and helped to find a car and two of our men with shovels and pickaxes. Emanuel took the weightless bundle of Francis wrapped in a cloth and silently and hastily showed him for the last time to all of us that were haphazardly sitting and standing together there. Francis’ face surrendered as if in deep sleep. (I have seen many dead, included children. They never impressed me as asleep, but Francis did.) No one spoke. Hands were shaken. Alidya cried silently and the first drops of rain started to fall. Francis was put in a box and out of the box again. Apparently tradition wanted the body to be buried so as to become one with the soil in the fasted possible way. No prayer no farewell no grieving now, Francis is whisked away from the community and driven to the churchyard by the men. Before the rain comes down by buckets Francis is home and so are the men. That was it, Francis. Thank you for your company. Soft and frail but so soulful. Thank you men of the community for knowing when it’s time to go and acting so, I say it again, grimly decisive. Thank you women of the community for your earthly wisdom, your acceptance of life and death. The next day there was a tiny memorial service for Francis, just as tiny as himself. Robert said a prayer, Charity sang a song and Ema talked about his life with us, from November till May. He mentioned the one highlight that everyone remembers: how Francis was given the role of Jesus during the Christmas play. How beautifully he was celebrated that way. How he was thrown high into the air, over and over again, caught and thrown into the air again. Hosanna, hosanna! All others singing and dancing ahead of him around him and behind him. Was he thrown too high into the sky? Did the angels see him, wanted him? Or was he, Francis, an angel himself who found his true nature? Bye sweet Francis. We will remember you well. Your big sister Philomena is asking where you are and we will tell her the story of how you joined the angels. Fly little child, fly. Fly, Francis, fly…
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