Silence Speaks Volumes

Silence Speaks Volumes

One afternoon, I was opening the door to step outside for some fresh air. There was a little girl standing there, with her head down. I could not step down without having her move.

“Hello, How are you?” I asked. No response.
“What is your name? I tried again. No response.

I put my hands on both of her shoulders and gently moved her so I could step down and close the door. I sat down on the step and she promptly sat next to me. We sat that way for several minutes. I was feeling rather awkward so I started talking about the flowers , the banana trees, her pretty dress… and whatever else came to mind.

When a woman came in through the gate to get water from the well, my little friend jumped up and ran down the path and out through the gate.

Two days later, the same thing happened. She was on the top step pressed against the door as I opened it. I smiled, she kept her head down, and we sat on the step together having another one-sided conversation.

As the days passed I began to watch for her shadow against the door and would step outside to sit next to her on the steps. Somehow she seemed to sense when I was available for a chat. She never spoke but did begin to sit closer and closer to me. I sang silly songs and told her stories. She would listen carefully and then jump up and disappear through the gate at the slightest noise.

On my last day in Gambia, several friends were dropping by to say goodbye. I was sitting outside on a bench in the shade and she came in through the front gate and walked very deliberately to me then climbed up on the bench next to me. I nudged against her a few times, teasing her. That’s when she looked up and smiled at me. My heart almost stopped. I opened my arms, she climbed on my lap and we hugged. No words needed.

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