(From the early pages of our founder’s African journal.)
Every evening, about an hour before dinner, and about thirty minutes before TV Time, Dorah (age 11) comes to the window above my desk. She stands on tiptoe, and peers through the bottom pane. And everyday she has the same message: “Please, Daddy. Baby, please.”
I remember my first morning in Uganda when I ordered a cup of coffee, the young waiter said, “Yes, please.” I thought he had confused my request with an offer. But, in short order, my cup of java arrived.
A bit surprised, I looked at him and said, “Oh. Thank you.”
He said, “You’re welcome, please.”
So, it wasn’t long before I learned that please is the direct translation of a Luganda word meant to lend a genteel quality to any phrase. It is as if he was saying, “Yes, I will be happy to get you some coffee — in a very nice way.”
And, “You’re welcome — in a very nice way.”
Kind of pleasant, actually.
Anyway, everyday just before TV Time, Dorah peeks at me through the window. And everyday she says the same thing: “Please, Daddy. Baby, please.” Not asking me for the baby, mind you, but instead telling me that she has brought one of the babies to me.
By this time of day, all my kids have finished with school, had their naps and snacks, finished their chores, and had their baths. And Dorah seems to have figured out that I love to hold the babies. She also adores cradling our little ones (as do most of the kids — so there can be stiff competition), but Dorah seems to be even happier with the opportunity to bring a baby to my arms.
I’m not sure why, but it pleases her.
So, she brings a baby to my desk, and gently places her onto my lap. Along with a quilt. And a toy-rattle or two. And then I continue with my typing (though one-handed now) as Dorah runs off to play.
Of course, as she passes the window on her way to the playground, I look up from my work (and my baby) just long enough to say, “Dorah?”
She stops, raises herself once again on tiptoe, and says, “Yes, please?”
To which, of course, I say, “Thank you, please.”
And our life here in the village continues.
Strumming its powerful rhythm of hope.