The Blind Boy      

I entered the bathroom to empty out my bowels before getting ready for the once-in-a-year meal. Living far away from Africa, one could only afford to enjoy such a meal once in a year. Since most of these ingredients were unavailable in traditional Chinese markets, they had to be shipped all the way from home. Coming out of the bathroom, I realized that Xiao-he had vanished. I knew he was some where in the apartment. Could he have been in the second bathroom or was he in the balcony? He couldn’t have left without at least saying a good-bye.      

Xiao-he where are you?” I asked, with my eyes gazing toward the second bathroom.

There was no response. The water in the kettle was boiling. I rushed to the kitchen to put off the fire. To my amazement, I found Xiao-he sitting at the kitchen table with a hot cup of coffee. He appeared to be in deep thought—just staring at the wall. I watched as he wiped a tear from his eye and took a sip of his coffee.

“What’s the matter, Xiao-he?” I whispered to him as I stepped into the kitchen.

“Why are you sitting here in the kitchen instead of being in the living room?” 

Xiao-he looked up from his coffee.

“Did I ever mention to you the story of a blind orphan I met in one African country fifteen years ago?” 

“No, you didn’t.” I replied.

 Xiao-he paused. The words weren’t coming easily…

“During one of my trips as a businessman to Africa fifteen years ago, I met a blind boy who had been orphaned by AIDS—both of his parents had died with the disease. At the time, he was only three years old. He used to call me “Daddy”.

“What country ? I asked, lowering myself into a chair beside him.

 He hesitated at first, then, with a face covered with sweat he answered:

“Sierra Leone.”

Wiping out the sweat on his face with tissue paper, he continued,

“I feel terribly guilty for my inability to save one innocent boy from being killed when some rebels from a rival clan descended into his village, wiping out every living being—including animals. They called that ‘Operation No Living Thing.’”  

Wiping another tear from his cheek, he continued.

To be continued…