I like writing personal stories. This one is very personal.
“Zroof”, you will find the meaning of this word later in the story.
I first met him in 2005, he was introduced to me by my dad. He did not attend any formal education and worked as a tailor and a handyman at times. He used the little he earned in raising his two kids.
He lived with his two boys since his separation from his wife a few years earlier. This guy demonstrated such diligence and care in raising the two boys in a way that I have not seen men do in that culture.
Teaching the boys how to make Asida (a popular Sudanese food ) and disciplining them accordingly whenever they veered from the path.
I knew this man very well because he was a close relative. He used to come to the house with the boys during holidays and at times they will spend a month with us before heading back to their home.
The story of the gentleman did not go that well. I got the news of his passing in early 2010, he died of a sudden illness. I had just finished high school by then and worked at a small computer repair shop as I was waiting to start my first year of university study.
It was a very sad news, I still recall sitting at the cemetery with few relatives as we dug his grave, a very common tradition in my culture. in fact, it was my first time participating in grave digging.
I kept contact with the boys for more than a year but then I lost contact with them after Sudan separated from South Sudan.
The boys’ mother is a Sudanese and the father was a South Sudanese, they opted to stay with their mom in Sudan as the majority of the South Sudanese made the journey back to South Sudan.
Last night I got in touch with the elder boy, who is a man by now. Facebook made us connect and we chatted for a few minutes, I asked him about the family he told me they are all well.
I then asked him about school.
Me: Are you in school?
Him: No, I left it some time back
Me: What about your brother.
Him: He dropped out too.
I asked him why and he told me “Zroof”
The word for hardship is “Zroof” in Sudanese Arabic, it is usually used to mean the troubles of life in all its forms.
I wanted to rush and start talking to him about the virtues of education but I was unable to say anything because I did not know what he had undergone since the passing of his dad.
This section of the post is where I usually write my reflections and draw some lessons from the story. This time I don’t have any reflections, I am still trying to find a better way for me to be of help to this young man and his brother. I hope to be in touch with him.
I promised to visit later in the year.