I fretted for days about whether or not to return to see Kaleab. My selfish nature wanted to be there every minute of every day, but I knew better. I made myself wait almost a week before we went back.
Again Le asked if I wanted it on video. I still did not.
The minute we stepped into the courtyard, it was brimming with sweat, bodies and the funk that can only be described as the stench that follows boys until they reach their twenties. They had all just arrived from school in their uniforms and while they all looked similar to me, we stuck out. In the midst of two pick up soccer games, a ping pong match and at least ten boys chasing a dog, I heard a voice screaming for their mama. I found such a request odd in a place where there were probably only four women at any given time. And then I looked up.
The command were meant for me. The voice belonged to my son. Kaleab was dressed in his Oklahoma t-shirt and he was yelling. For me. His mama.
He hit me in the chest at full speed and when his legs flew around me, I was cursing not having the recorder on. No one would believe how amazing this was.
The boys were called in for a lesson and we were invited to join. Kaleab never let go of my hand. While Le exchanged pleasentries with the staff, I sat on a small stool at the back of the room with my son, relishing every moment, every look, every touch. While the person in the front of the room was teaching in Amharic, my son was showing off his English by reading to me. I was floating on air.
There came a time in the lesson when the boys were to bow their heads and pray. In my exuberance, I chose to be irreverent and snapped this picture. My only prayer was to know what my son was asking his maker for. I still am unsure.
After the lesson, we were dismissed and the boys were each given balloons. I joined in the fun. On our first visit, Kaleab was gracious and let the other boys be close to me, touch my hair and drag me around the compound on a whim. Not today. His shirt said it all. He belonged to the woman from Oklahoma. And he quietly, yet firmly, let everyone know it. If we were not holding hands, we were close enough to be. He had staked his claim. I was his. I had been for a long time.