Dripping sand, cement, worn-out painted walls; Cats eat rats, rats eating cockroaches and cockroaches eat everything. Her grandma’s unique cooking, the screeching cry of her brother yelling for his favorite toy. Smoke from the inebriating charcoal, her mom shouting for her to clean up after herself. That is what the 10-year-old Sharon imagines when she thinks of the word home.
For 10-year-old Sharon, this was the norm. She loved waking up to a puddle of the cat’s feces and another rat gone. To her, this was not disgusting, annoying or unpleasant because after she wakes up, the aroma of the sweet yet savory smell of her grandma’s vitumbua will fill her heart with excitement for the day ahead. To her, home was where she got to cuddle up to her grandma’s bosom every night, it was where she used her wooden pencils to draw stick figures of her perfect home and conceal the worn-out wall, that with a slight touch dripped cement to the ground. Although she loved the four walls of her house, to her, there was always something missing. Her grandma’s unconditional love sadly was unable to fill the empty room in her chaotic household; her father.
In Mwanza Nyakato there was a big house; white walls with metal wires on top and an intimidating gate. Behind that intimidating gate, lived 10-year-old Sharon with her loud and loving family. Although a hassle every morning, Sharon was always happy. Her childhood was filled with nothing but a plethora of love, attention and kindness from her grandma, mother and brother. There was always an empty room in Sharon’s mental image of the perfect home. She had never met her father in her whole 10 years of existence. She longed for the day the rooms to her perfect home would be completely filled, without a single person missing.
At 11 years old, Sharon’s room in the perfect home was filled. That was the day she met her father for the first time in her life. He was the opposite of how she imagined him; definitely was not fat, the tallest person she had ever seen. Her happiness was temporary after the sad realization came crashing down. Despite one room being filled, the other was fading away. Her grandma was now miles away from her. She struggled, severely struggled with the idea that her perfect home was being threatened by this cruel and evil thing called distance. In order for her perfect home to be perfect, everyone she loved had to be in it; not just in her imagination but physically. She contemplated what it means to have a perfect home without the people she loved in it. However, Sharon never thought that distance would become even more cruel.
Distance made sure that Sharon’s rooms in her perfect home would never be filled. Distance took away her grandma; forever. The now 15-year-old Sharon was devastated; destroyed by the cruelty of distance. She felt tormented, she hated the world. The walls of her perfect home came tumbling down, sand dripping on the concrete floor. Her perfect home a mere distant memory. Her perfect home with the cats, rats and cockroaches, vanished; and so did she.
It was a long journey; one filled with tears, break downs, guilt and loneliness. But she managed to bounce back. The now 17-year-old Sharon came out of her dark and deep hole, stronger than ever. She had one mission and one mission only; create her perfect home. This time the duration of her perfect home would not be tied by the evil and cruel thing called distance. Distance would not get to determine the foundation of her perfect home. Sharon’s perfect home has five rooms: her mom, dad, brother, her and the fifth room; memories. The room of memories is always open for all the members of the house. In the room of memories, there lives her grandma, the aroma of her sweet and savory vitumbua, unconditional love, her warm cuddles. The room of memories is the foundation of her perfect home; it is built with love, wisdom and kindness. Her perfect home is no longer covered with worn-out walls, but with strong walls built in collaboration of love and effort by all the members of her home.
Dripping sand, cement, worn-out painted walls are no longer what comes to mind when 17-year-old Sharon thinks of the word home. Physical is no longer the foundation of her home but rather memories of the ups and downs of her life with her loved ones, serve as eternal fuels to keep her perfect home alive.
SHARON K. is a 17-year-old Tanzanian young writer living in Bangkok, Thailand. Romance and mystery novels are part of her everyday life. She loves writing for the mere reason of how you can express so much, with so little words. She also writes persuasive and response-to-global-issues essays. She loves to dance but still has a long way to go. Playing volleyball is her way of exercising and painting is her way of de-stressing. Her annoying younger brother is still her number one fan.
Sharon’s essay won first-place in the 14-17 year-old category in the 2020 Bangkok Refugee Young Writer’s Contest. This year’s theme centered around the word, HOME.