Little lost sheep

Collecting Pieces of Me

The human soul is like a diamond. In order of it to really shine, piece for piece it has to be split away until the light can reflect the beauty that resides inside.

It’s a painful process far from glamorous, yet, undeniably, a calling that can’t be ignored. Sooner or later the pieces that used to be who you think you are will be split away, leaving you totally naked like a new born baby. Vulnerable. In need of protection and nurturing.

And when this vulnerable self shows his or herself to the world, the process of collecting the lost pieces start. This week, I’m gratefully discovering small fragments of me that has been forgotten. It fills me with joy.

It started with an unexpected email from a friend. It went something like this…

“Oh, gosh! No wonder you never responded! Henry was looking for you, the police found your passport and you can collect it at the police station.”

Going back a week, I’m surrounded by four teenagers, hungry, angry with the world, afraid. They forcefully grab my wallet containing my most valuable possession, namely my passport, and my most cherished possession and connection to the outside world, my phone.

When I scream for help they cover my mouth and I’m left desolate. Not that anyone would do anything to help in any case. It’s not an unusual event witnessing an attack. I’m lucky that they don’t have any weapons.

After a sleepless night I go to the police station to report the robbery, but the harsh and unfriendly colonel behind the counter refuses to open a case. Procedure is that I should first block my phone and go to the police station closest to the crime. When I explain that I have no means to block it as I have no internet or telephone, she simply answers that it’s not her problem. I don’t even try to explain to her that I’m too afraid to go to the police station where the robbery occurred. She’s asking me to go to danger that my heart is telling me I should avoid.

I walk away, the crime unreported, unvalidated and accept that I won’t be travelling any time soon again. Possibly never again.

Rewind a week earlier. A close to stranger — now best friend — and I get into a car with no booking and head to a rural village 2 hours from Cape Town. We arrive after dark on a Saturday night and the village is already closed for the weekend. As we drive on the narrow gravel road, another car pulls over to give us space to pass. We stop and ask if there’s any place where we can maybe stay over for the night. They drive with us for kilometers and a while later we arrive at a welcoming but basic accommodation.

A hike through forgotten South Africa.

In the shared kitchen and lounge two men and an excited small boy greet us. A fire warms up the cold winter weather and the little boy immediately runs to me showing me his torch. Beaming with pride he keeps switching it on and off. He is passed tired but full of adrenaline, refusing to sleep.

The two men offer to share their food with us and invite us to share the warmth of the fire. We engage in the most interesting conversation I’ve had in years for the next couple of hours. We talk about religion, marriage, education, politics, the big bang theory, evolution. Everything that should be taboo. Each open and accepting to other viewpoints. I feel so appreciative of discovering such a rare treasure where I’m able to honestly share my thoughts with no judgement.

The little boy’s father explains later that he gave him the torch as motivation to finish a harsh 11km hike over the rocky mountains after he wanted to give up, not able to take another step. I empathize without saying a word, fully comprehending how the little boy must have felt.

Long after midnight we head to our beds and the next morning we are greeted with a fresh brew of sweet tea. We share breakfast and they pack up, ready to go. We exchange numbers, something I never do with such encounters, give each other a big hug and head in our different directions again.

We decide to stay an extra day and explore the rugged country on foot. As we walk I express my thoughts to my new friend, wondering why we exchanged numbers as I believe there’s a reason for each encounter. I don’t believe in accidents and I wonder why it is that I have written down this man’s number. His name is Henry.

And this little, seemingly unimportant event, is what caused my passport to find my way back to me. The police found his number on the piece of paper, phoned him, and he in turn when he couldn’t get hold of me, got hold of my new German friend, back in Berlin. Also by accident, I wrote down her email address in my notebook, also something I never do.

Receiving back my passport, so forcefully taken from me, felt like the best thing that’s happened to me the past few years. I feel as if a part of me that I’ve lost has come back to me. My passport represents freedom and choices to me. Having my ticket to choose again in my hands strangely makes me feel peaceful and calm.

The next day, I walk to a friend asking for some music, seeing that my phone was beyond everything else, my iPod and GPS, both which I no longer have. As he opens up his music player I see titles long forgotten. As I squeal in delight to see and hear beloved tunes I so cherished, he tells me it is from CD’s I gave him years ago before I left. Another piece coming back to me, feeling so grateful for finding all the lost things I’ve loved.

As he copies the music, I look through his books, and there is one of the books I also left behind. It has travelled as much as I have, yet, through stranger than strange circumstances, it is as if it was always mine, just waiting for me to find it again.

I’m filled with so much emotion that can not be explained to someone who hasn’t been on a similar journey. Finding something that you thought you’ve lost is the most sacred moment imaginable. Finding these lost pieces of me feels like coming home. It feels whole. I am whole.

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