Sungura Letters

She stood in front of her cottage and opened the post box and noticed a lone personal letter in front of several other pieces of mail lying in the box. “What is this?” She wondered as she saw that it was from America.  Standing there with the rest of the mail in hand, she opened the letter.

“My dear Emily,” it began, “I am hoping that this would still be your address, even though it has been more than thirty years since we met.”

“Who could this be from?” Emily began to think to herself, noticing that the letterhead on the letter was from Harvard University in Cambridge Mass.

“You may not recall when we met on that sunny afternoon all those years ago, but you must certainly remember the little Peter Rabbit book you were clutching in your hand. You were so pretty in your white lace dress and long blond hair, which I had never seen before, as you greeted me and the other boys from my village.”

“Why, of course, I remember my Peter Rabbit book Emily recalled vividly, it was the most prized possession I ever had when I was nine years old.” The book had meant so much to Emily as well, because there she was in Africa with her missionary parents all frightened and away from her home in England.

“Sungura.” One of the young boys had said as he saw the picture of Peter on the cover of the book as Emily's mother was speaking to an elder woman of the tribe. He was a twelve year old and Emily quickly explained that the rabbit on the cover was called “Peter Rabbit.”   Then she said “Peter Sungura” to the boy who repeated the words “Peter Sungura, Peter Rabbit.” to her.

“I must admit to you Miss. Emily, that you were the first girl that I ever liked as you stood there holding your book with your hair as golden as the sun. When you gave me the book to keep, it was an act of kindness that I have never forgotten.”

As she continued to read the letter, Emily thought to herself that Buhto as he was called was the first boy that she had ever liked, on that hot summer day, as well.

“Ten years after we met, I was fortunate enough to go to school in America and I have been teaching literature here at Harvard for fifteen years now. I was recently in Africa again and one of the daughters of an elder whom your parents had met still had your address in England.”

Emily's parents had both passed away from illness in Africa on another mission field when Emily was fifteen and back in school in England. In fact, that summer when she met Buhto was the only time she had ever been to Africa. She had spent most of her life caring for her grandparents after her parents died, and never seemed to have time for a life of her own. She never married and never

even had a serious relationship, only a few dates over the years. Her grandparents had been gone for eleven years now and she lived alone in their cottage with her two cats.

“The reason I am writing to you is that I will be visiting England for a conference this summer, and I was wondering if I might perhaps return your Peter Rabbit book to you in person.”

At this point, Emily stopped reading the letter, closed the post box and went back inside with the mail in her hand.   She laid the rest of the mail on the table by the door and went upstairs to her bedroom where she reached into her jewelry box and took out the small carved rabbit necklace that Buhto had put around her neck that very same day they had met. She almost put the necklace over her head, but simply held it to her heart and stood in front of her mirror seeing herself as the nine year old girl who had shared more than her treasured Peter Rabbit Book with Buhto all those years ago. “It would be ever so wonderful to see Buhto again,” she thought to herself as she continued to read the letter…

“I would so like to see you again Miss. Emily as I have thought about you all of these years since I first met you with your hair as golden as the sun and you gave me your Peter Rabbit book. If you are married or would prefer not to see me, then I will certainly understand. If you would desire, I can simply send back the book that you gave me as I do so want you to have it back after all these years.”

The letter was signed…

“Very truly yours,

Buhto Alyama”

Emily noticed that the letterhead read

Buhto Alyama
Professor of literature
Harvard University

Emily sat down and began to write…

“My dear Dr. Alyama,”

 “Thirty years ago, the first boy I ever cared for put a necklace around my neck. I am holding that very same necklace in my hand as I write this letter to you. I would be so very pleased to see you once again Buhto, but only if you are free to once again put your Sungura necklace around my neck. I have thought of you often over the years, but I have never worn it since that day I spent with you in Africa, but I would so love to wear it around my neck again…

A Sean Allen Story

D McDaniel © 2007

 

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