This is one of thirteen stories in Kenneth Schneyer’s new collection The Law & the Heart. Emotionally and ethically complex, it gives us the perfect opportunity to show you why we’re so excited about this book!
Hear the Enemy, My Daughter
by Kenneth Schneyer
Everything about Kesi reminds me of her father. Her hair is crinklier than mine, because Jabari’s was. Her skin is a darker shade of brown than mine, because Jabari’s was. Her chin juts out absurdly for such a little face, because Jabari’s did. She even smells like him. Every sight of her is like a kick in my stomach.
Kesi has stopped wondering where Jabari has gone. For the first two or three months, she asked many times a day, “Mzazi, where Baba?” She was past such baby-talk; it was a sign of her distress that she regressed, lost her verbs. I was honest with her, or I tried to be. You can say, “Baba has died. Baba was very brave, he was fighting to protect Kesi and Mzazi, he was fighting to protect everyone.” But how much of that will a three-year-old understand? All she knew was that her father was gone. I did not even tell her that he had gone to a better place, that he was happy — what would be the point, even if I believed it? Did she care whether he was happy, if it kept him away forever?
Nor did I allow the other voice to speak, the voice that said, “I should have been fighting next to Jabari; I could have saved Jabari. If you had not been born, Jabari would still be here.”
Now she is four and does not mention him at all. She remembers him; when I point to his picture, she tells me who Jabari is. But she does not begin conversation about him. She does not ask when he will return. She does not ask what it means to die. Continue reading Sneak preview: "Hear the Enemy, My Daughter" from The Law & the Heart