Here a story I wrote in high School , I was new to the U.S and still learning English. I was rereading it and thinking of changing a few things, then I thought to myself that it would take away the all authenticity of the story and it would also take away the all reflecting on the past vibe that I’m trying to get here.
The Power of Words
When Ebwoa Assam is telling his story to his grandchildren, he always talks about himself as if he was talking about a stranger, and his wife is always smiling because she knows that story. It is their story: Sharon Greenhouse Assam always remembers the day when, crying, she told Ebwoa that he was a special person. She was only fifteen years old and he was 21. She did not know that her words that day would change his life forever and give him strength and determination to reach his goals in the United States.
Ebwoa was a field man. He left his family and friends to find money so Sarah, his girlfriend, could finish her schooling. He sacrificed his own education to work in the field after his mother’s death so his grandfather and sibling would not go hungry, so his two sisters could finish school and become independent too. That was fifty-two years ago, when he first, touched the earth of the United States.
10:00AM was what Ebwoa saw on his watch, walking out of the plane. Ms. Greenhouse was screaming over the kids, and telling the transporter, to come help with the luggage. Ebwoa was so lost, everything was so different there, people were talking but he could not even understand one word. He put himself back and began to think about what had happened three months ago.
Three months ago in Bokko (south of the republic of Congo), Ebwoa’s mother had left them for the sky, and his grandfather had told him that he’d have to go live with his father. Ebwoa did not know him since his mother was always saying to him that his father was dead. Who was that man who suddenly began to send money to his grandfather, and who was that white woman who seemed very concerned about him? What did these people want? That was Ebwoa’s concern three months ago, but in the passing days, he had forgotten about all of it, and begun to refocus on his work in the field and on how Sarah wanted to go to school and become a nurse. Her family was the poorest of the village.
Ebwoa was surely not the wealthiest man of the village, but he was a hard worker, and the only one who had completed High school. Since he had been dating her, he had been paying for her education. However, he knew sure enough that College was something else that it demanded more money and his mother was dead now. He had to take care of his sisters and make sure they went to school too. Therefore, when his grandfather went to see Sarah, she was happy to hear that Ebwoa was joining his father in the United States. There she thought he would have the opportunity to finish school, and then get a job that would give him the opportunity to send money to everyone. That night Sarah did not sleep dreaming about what her life would be like up there with him once she had joined him.
The next Sunday everybody was there for the goodbye. The woman his father had sent to take him, Ms. Greenhouse was pretty; except that in her eyes were cold and dead.
Monday at 10:45AM, they were in the car leaving the airport, in the back sit the kids (three little boys and a teenage girl, Sharon) were quiet. Ebwoa put his head out of the car watching everything, and asking a thousand questions. At 12:00 pm, the car stopped in front of a pretty three story white house that looked like one of that house in the in catalog, with the lawn mold and the beautiful high widows and a patio. Ms. Greenhouse took out the luggage and the kids began to jump around again, talking and talking. When they came into the house Ms. Greenhouse, dropped his luggage into a dirty and cramped room and turn to him for the first time since they had gotten off the plane, “That’s your bedroom clean it, and get some sleep tomorrow will be a new day for you.”
At that moment Ebwoa knew that, his life would be a nightmare in this white house, with a woman who talked to him as if a neighborhood infested dog that she hated. Ebwoa cleaned the room and made himself a place to sleep. The next morning at 5:00 am, she came into the room with a pot of dirty smelly water and splashed him.
“Wake up! Lazy boy do you think I bought you, for you to sleep all the day.”
“Bought” Ebwoa was baffle incomprehension filling his brain, he trusted his grandfather more than anything in this world, so what she was saying did not make any sense she had to be lying his grandfather would never sell him never.
She was not one to be paying attention to the turmoil that was going on with him; she just continued to babble away regardless.
“Of course you will begin by learning English. However, before you go to school, you will have to clean the house, feed the dogs, cook breakfast, lunch and dinner, wash the car, take the dogs out for their walk, take the kids to school, wash the clothes and the dishes,etc.. and after all your work if you have some time to go to school you can go.”
She knew that with the schedule she prepared for him, going to school would be impossible, but Ebwoa was determined to learn the language. He began to watch TV while doing is chores, ask the kids to explain everything to him. Ebwoa was so kind to them that the kids loved him. When he wrote to his family, he lied because he knew that she was always opening his letters behind him. A year passed and Ebwoa never saw Mr. Greenhouse, but his English was getting better. One day someone knocked at the door, Ebwoa found a black man holding a little girl by her arm. Both of them looked sad.
“Hi I’m looking for Ms. Marcia Greenhouse.”
“Misch Marcia shiz not here.”
“Excuse me sir why you talk so strange?”
“Sweetie that not polite.” The man urged his little girl.
“Oh mischter left her, shiz right I need improve my English but not easy.”
The man smile at Ebwoa, he was tall, and robust with laugh line and sad big sad black eyes.
“Are you Ebwoa?” he asked
“Yech Sir, hoye do ya knowr mich?”
“Sharon told me that you’re a very intelligent boy. In addition, that you are Assam’s son, Assam was my friend. So when I heard of how Marcia had been treating you I had to come and see for myself because I cannot accept anybody can treat my dear friend Assam’s kin the same way you may treat a petulant dog on the streets.”
“You knowz my fither. Where iz hiz now? I was supposezz to cime join him!”
The man grew sadder at Ebwoa’s question he seemed to have lost even more of the composure that he was trying to keep.
“So she didn’t tell you. Your father died last year in a car accident. She was his girlfriend. The Triplets are your stepbrothers.”
At that moment, Ebwoa’s world fell apart. He was totally lost, all this time had been wishing that his father would come any moment and that his stepmother would change her attitude toward him all of it seemed lost now. Now for the first time since his arrival in this new placed he left depression and darkness overtake him, continuing to do his work at the house and going to the night classes was going to be a challenge because they seemed to be no way out for him.
After the visit of the man, and Ebwoa dejected figure his stepmother became worse; beating him for every frustration she encounters. He was twenty years old and she was treating him as if he was six or three years old. Still he did not talk because back to her or even try to rebel, all that because she was sending money to Africa, that money was helping his grandfather, sibling and Sarah.
Weeks and Months past and the black man who he still did not know the name came back, this time he was accompanied by is his wife and the same little girl. His wife was very pretty, blond, with blue eyes and a big smile. This time around, they had come for Ebwoa, they had told Marcia that they were coming to get him, and that she could not run anywhere for they will always find her. Two days after when he was getting into the car, Sharon ran to him and gave him a hug. Ebwoa was shock the teenager girl had never really showed any particular attention to him.
“Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you’re nothing. You’re a special.” She told him Ebwoa just smile at her and got in the car, the tree little boys were crying while waving at him.
He lived 3 years with Samuel Davis, his wife Clara and their little girl Priscilla. After that, he went to college, writing to Sharon in California every day. In addition, to Sarah in Africa because he never forgot her. He worked and study at the saw time. When he was free, he went to visit The Davis. Sent money to Sarah so she could continue her studies He also sent money to his grandfather who was taking care of his two siblings, until he was independent enough to make them come live with him, so they could in turn have a chance at a better education. One day when someone asked him what was the best advice he ever got in life, he responded:
“No one can tell you who you are or who you are not.” In addition, “No one can stop your dreams if you’re still breathing”
That was the lesson that Sharon’s words had taught him, by sharing secrets and mail, they knew they were made for each other. Sarah in Africa went to a nursing school, financed by Ebwoa and when the time came she also met the one who was destined for her. They may have stopped dating each other but she stayed his friend. And when a friend asked her what was the best lesson in a life has ever taught her she answered:
“The one who gives needs to forget, but the one you received needs to remember.”
Sharon went to medical school and married Ebwoa who had become a lawyer taking on stand against injustice. She gave him three beautiful daughters and two sons. One of those sons is my father and I heard that story myself in the living room laughing in my grandfather’s arms, asking him why he always talked about himself in the third person. That is when he told me.
“A person who talks about himself in the third person is a person who understands the real key of life.”
And when my friends ask me what this story taught me my answer is:
“Every barrier can be overcome with patience and determination.” And that “the only thing that can stop my dreams is death.”
By Koumamo Piebo