About a year ago or so ago, just as Noah’s friendship with Trokon and Eastman blossomed, we began to have problems with Enoch. It seemed whenever Enoch and Trokon were in the same area with Noah, the two Liberian boys were at it, picking fights, harassing and generally “causing palaver” with each other. Because Noah was not actually friendly with Enoch, we began to invite the young lad into our yard less. This did not quiet Enoch down much, in fact I think it just revved him up. He continued to harass and tease Trokon, Noah and Hannah whenever they ventured out of the yard. Sometimes I needed to get involved, and sometimes Enoch actually listened to me. It has always been the case that I have held a special fondness for him, in spite of (or maybe in part because of) his incredible ability to read people so well and instinctively drive them up a wall. His uncommonly quick wit (and tongue), his resilience in the face of adversity, and his non-stop mischievousness are for some reason irresistible to me.
In time, Enoch alienated enough of us to the point where he was almost never invited into the yard, although I continued to maintain a relationship with him, occasionally taking him with me on errands, leaving food for him, buying him footwear, and giving first aid. About six months ago, Enoch, who never met a temptation he could resist, began stealing Legos and other toys from Noah on those rare forays into our yard. Eventually, after trying short term banishments, I told Enoch he was simply not going to be allowed in our yard at all unless I was there to personally monitor him. So for a couple months, we did not see him. I missed him, but at least it was more peaceful around the neighborhood.
About a month ago, in an ironic turn of events, Enoch and his old nemesis Trokon started to hang out together. Because we see Trokon daily, he brought Enoch back into our world—only this time, when Trokon came over for his after-school-til-dark visit, Enoch could only come as far as our gate. Undeterred, he promptly climbed a mango tree just on the other side of our wall and perched himself there. Then he got active—relentlessly calling out to the boys playing on the porch, calling out to me, or Renita, or Hannah-- hoping for any response. I knew I couldn’t stop him, so I began chatting with him up there from the yard. It seemed to give him something he needed. His visits are now almost daily. Somedays, he is up in that tree for hours, entertaining himself with singing, carrying on conversations—sometimes just with himself-- and laughing.
In the evenings, when we go out and sit in the yard, he takes part in the conversation from his mango tree perch. At dinner, Trokon takes some food out beyond the gate to share with him. When he has first aid needs, he comes into the yard for treatment—not as far as the porch though—and then goes back out. I still pick him up on the way to do errands, and I drop him off at the tree when we return. Little rogue that he sometimes is, I still find it impossible not to admire him. He has adapted to the boundaries—a nine foot cement block wall and razor wired steel gate—as casually as if it was a decorative white picket fence. I guess adapting is what he does best. As always, he gets as close as he can, and with that wit and humor and voice, still gets us all going from his perch on the other side of the barrier. And at the end of the day, when darkness falls and the boys go home and we head into the house, I sometimes pause and find myself looking over the yard. I know it is good that we have the wall. But lately, I'm thanking God for that mango tree.
On another afternoon, Noah and Trokon escort the lad from harm's way.
At days end, with Renita in hammock, and I in the chair, the boy in the tree never lets us feel lonely.
Some days, we engage in heated debates regarding the dietary value of palm butter.
For medical treatment, he is allowed in the yard. Here Trokon prepares to remove what Liberians call "Jiggers" from the lad's toes. The animal burrow into the skin and lay eggs which grow and do damage. Trokon is and experienced Jigger remover...
Its probably good the foot is a bit blurry. Here is what it looks like post-op. I put some anti bacterial stuff on it and bandaged it, but by the next week, more jiggers had climbed into the wounds. With Enoch, self care is all about the next meal, never about avoiding jiggers. Maybe he'll remember the tears.
... So I put him to work on a "Reed Road" project with Trokon as supervising contractor.
Farwell from up in a tree, over the wall, though the razor wire and across the waves.