Saturday, February 19, 2005

Sara's Story Intro?

(Note: on August 24, 2000 Father John Kaiser, a priest from St. Cloud, MN was found dead outside of Nairobi. He had been shot in the head and left on the side of the road.)

People invariably want to talk to her about the priest. Had she met him? Did she know him? They were both from Minnesota, there at the same time. Friends and relatives want details: wild animals on Safari, exotic flora, quaint tribal customs, brutal dictatorships. Mystery. Adventure. They ask about the priest pretending concern, but she knows they really just want to be entertained.

She'd never seen him. Never heard of him. Priests were mysterious creatures who lived in slums and spoke out against the government. Missionaries were fearful wanderers holed up in gated communities in Nairobi. Some ventured out as messengers, delivering supplies to remote areas. Occasionally they made their way out with medicines or books or news from home. The mail could not be trusted.

She had been at the foothills of Mount Kenya. At the equator. She crossed it twice a day. Nairobi was a place she had been to briefly after leaving the airport. She remembered there were cattle grazing in the flowerbeds of exclusive hotels. The drought brought “the landless” in to the city. Her host was nervous because she'd forgotten to remove the thin gold chain from around her neck. A foolish risk. A mistake.

It is a shock to be back. A shock to be surrounded by all these white faces. No one is staring at her, which seems strange. She finds herself staring at everyone. Everything. Where did all these white people come from? Their skin seems transparent, insubstantial. They squint in the bright, distant sunlight, complain about the humidity. Everything seams too clean. Roads are smooth. Grass is green. There are lakes and rivers and streams. It rains.

They ask her about the priest. She can tell them nothing about him. And she can’t bring herself to tell her own story. It doesn’t even feel like hers to tell. Tell us about your trip. How was your aunt? Always the same questions. Without fail.

She walks away.