On Santi’s first night with us, I didn’t sleep well. I kept hearing again the angry chants of the rioters, with Santi’s music quieting it all. The music carried power, while the musician stood vulnerable.
And then, the pain of parting rushed through me. I couldn’t bear that she’d be leaving us.
In the quiet hour before dawn, I took Mojo for a walk down by the beach.
He understood my feelings, even if he couldn’t comprehend their reasons.
We walked until the sky turned silver. Slowly, quietly, the spin of the lighthouse beam brought my thoughts into harmony with my greater trust: It would all work out. It would all work out and I would accept it.
I would accept it, but that didn’t mean I wouldn’t be saddened by it.
When we returned home with first sun rays, I wanted to stop the sun. I didn’t want another day to pass, for the day after tomorrow, Ritu would take Santi, and even if I trusted, even if I could feel acceptance and harmony, I felt resistance, too. I could accept it, but I didn’t want to accept it. I wanted to stop it.
In the early morning, waiting for Sept and Santi to rise, I busied myself with chores.
When I came back in, I found Santi cleaning the bathroom.
“Oh, honey!” I said. “You don’t have to do that! You don’t need to do chores!”
She looked up with a big smile. We went into the kitchen, and I heated up leftover tacos for breakfast. I sat at the other end of the table, avoiding looking in her face. I was distancing myself. I didn’t know any other way to approach this.
She found delight in watching the goldfish in our tank. Seeing her happiness, my throat tightened, and, as I heard Sept’s footsteps on the stairs, I ran outside. I was afraid I’d start crying if I looked in his kind eyes.
But he followed me out.
“What’s up, Mal?” he asked.
I let it all out.
I told him about trusting, accepting, resisting, and all the denial I was wrapping myself in to try to get through this. I told him I’d fallen in love with Santi, and I couldn’t bear that she was leaving us.
“In that case,” he said. “She’ll stay!”
I didn’t see how it could happen.
“What do you mean?” I asked. “It can’t be that simple.”
“I don’t see why not,” he said.
“What about Ritu’s plans? What about the family she’s found for her?”
“She’s staying with us,” Sept said. “I’m part of this thing, too.” He meant that he was part of the rebel movement, and I know now that he wasn’t just an incidental part of it, he was an integral part of it. In his own way, here on this planet, he was, even then, a leader in the movement. Sept was important.
“Can you do that?” I asked. “Can you decide something and make it happen?”
He reminded me that Ritu worked for the movement–she was there to support it–and whatever Xirra and the others directed, that’s what she did. And Xirra, in this instance, would take her lead from Sept.
“In other words,” I said, “Santi stays with us!”
“That she does,” said Sept, “if you feel it’s best.”
It turned out to be very easy. Ritu didn’t have another family lined up yet–she hadn’t been sure what to do with the child, and so she felt relief that Santi would stay with us. She said she couldn’t imagine a better placement, for everyone concerned.
That morning, when Sept and I went back inside, Santi waited in the kitchen. She was still hungry, even after our taco breakfast. I made a sandwich and served it to her.
“Here you go, moSanti,” I said.
“Squeegee, mobizaabgotojo!” she said.
“Would you like to stay here?” I asked. “Gotukoda?”
“Byugotokoda,” she said. “Squeegee.”
And that’s how Santi came to stay with us and to be our daughter. MoSanti.