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I’m on my way to see Rahim: To tell you about Rajim I must start at the beginning: We were in the last portion of our afternoon service in our Pastor’s Anniversary celebration. I was sitting in the back row with the rest of the ushers. Sis. Hurd had asked me to sit in the back and help her keep an I on the boys; Ricky’s ADD and hyper, Shabazz is slow and/or stupid, and Marcus is easily distracted. Kenton was sitting in the row in front of me. I called him over from one of the wings because he was sleep. Shabazz was playing a game on Ricky’s phone and Ricky was trying to get it back. I told him to keep his hands to himself. He said that it was his phone, I told him that’s what he gets for giving it away, and next time to leave it at home.
I went from one child to the next, admonishing them to keep their hands to themselves and to stop touching each other and keep quiet when Sis. Worthy came up to me and whispered that someone had been tampering with the double doors in the basement. She suspected some of the children had been down there. I went to investigate:


I started in the bathroom: the lights were on, but there was no one in the stalls. I turned the light out and proceeded to check all the other rooms, one-by-one. The nursery was next, nada. Then each classroom; I turned on the lights, checked behind the doors and under the desks, nada. I turned out all the lights in the basement and waited, hearing nothing I went back up to the vestibule where I saw Sis. Cross sitting with Sis. Rivers.


I asked Sis. Cross if she where okay? She suffers from MS and her health has been shaky at best, tears were running down her face. She said that Rahim had stolen someone’s gun (someone who lived in the house). She received a text message from a girl that knows Rahim, it said that Rahim was planning on killing himself. He’s a big kid, big for his age, big for any age. He’s not beautiful, or eloquent, but he’s not stupid. He looks like he’d mug his grandmother for a free lunch. This was serious, way more serious than a couple of kids playing slap-hands. She had tried calling him but he wasn’t answering his phone. I tried on my cell hoping-against-hope that he’d answer my call. He once said that I treated him like I was his father – I told him he was welcome. Sometimes I can be so clever, where were all my smart quips now? My tongue caught in my throat. What do you say to a kid that’s bigger than most grown men, who has a gun, and is threatening to kill himself? I had all kinds of things planned for just such and occasion, but what where they, and where were they now?


His phone went straight to voice mail and I hung up. I didn’t know what to say. I paced, and then called back. Straight to voice mail again, I left him a message this time: “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem” I said. Clever, but was it clever enough? I left my number, what else could I do? This wasn’t an after-school special, this was a real kid, who I really know. I know him; his mother, his grandfather, his whole family (I used to date his aunt). What else could I do?


Sis. Cross-’ sister, Sis Bond, came out as well as Sis Hurd. They didn’t know what to do either. They sent me in to get their father, they were going to leave and search for Rahim. Sis. Cross was crying.


I held up my one finger in polite fashion as I whispered into Bro. Wells’ ear in the middle of Rev. Hall’s tribute to our Pastor what was going on with his grandson and he followed me. Bro. Wells is tall and thin, almost gangly, all elbows and knees. He’s in his 70’s and frail, his health has been failing since his wife, Mother Wells passed a couple of years ago. He grabbed his hat and coat and gathered up his girls and they headed out. I haven’t felt this helpless since I got that call from the hospital last year about Bro. Morgan. “He’s taken a turn for the worst”, I’ll never forget that call. All I could do was pray then, and it was all I could do now as I watched them walk out the door, the old and frail father, Bro. Wells propping up his distraught daughter as they frantically phoned Rahim’s friends.


After the service was over I was trying to get to Rev. Dr. Thomas to tell him about Rahim. He’s a clinical psychologist and likes to keep abreast of things like this. I find his insight invaluable; I’d be lost without him. I was saying goodbye to our guest when I heard a crash from the vestibule. I went out to investigate only to find Ricky, Melvin and Jacob standing next to a broken vase, (why is it always Ricky?). I ordered them downstairs and read them the riot act: How many times do I have to tell you boys about horseplay? Do you think I say this stuff for my health? Etc. etc. etc.


I pulled Jacob aside to talk to him alone. I put my arm “up” around his shoulder. I told him that I was holding him responsible because he’s the biggest and he should know better, and that he has to set an example for the younger kids, and that he was moving into manhood and the weight and mantle of leadership would be on his shoulders. I maid him stand and watch as Ricky’s mother manhandled him in front of the others; friends, visitors, relatives and other – smaller children.
“What do you think?” I asked him.


“I don’t know.” He answered. He had to be bewildered when he came face-to-face with the consequences of his negligence, I would. Yet all of this was insignificant in the light of Rahim. I didn’t have the time or patients for it.


I called Sis. Cross when I got home. No answer. I left a message for her to call me when she got news. I couldn’t stay awake any longer; I had to get to bed. I have to be at work at 0330 am, but how could I sleep, (not well).


It was a fitful night of sleep. I woke before my alarm clock went off. I checked my phone immediately after I took the customary morning urination and said my morning devotional prayer, (giving God the best part – the first part – of my day). There was a message, it was from Sis. Cross. She said they had found Rahim in time and had taken him to Community Mental Health and they were going to hold him for a few days. She said that he said that my message was one of the reasons he didn’t kill himself and he asked to see me.


Now I’m on my way to see Rahim, now what do I say? Knowing that whatever I say may have a life-or-death effect on a teenager; what I say may be his reason for living or not. No pressure.



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The following comments are for "Men Of My Tribe: Rahim"
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