Congratulations to Precious Collette Kemigisha of Uganda for winning first prize in our LittWorld 2022 Writing Contest #2. Her article, “My Raven by the Brook,” describes an unexpected friendship that warmed her heart as a lonely international student in frigid Scotland. When notified of her win, Precious responded, “Thank you so much for this wonderful news! I can think of no better way to end the year than knowing that my story touched the hearts of the judges and will also bring hope to many of your readers who will get to read it! My prayer to God was that if I won then I would share the winnings with my dear friend, Natasha, whom I wrote about in the story and I can’t wait to give her the news!”
We want to recognize and thank our distinguished panel of international judge for their careful evaluations of the many poignant entries received from around the world: authors Jenni Ho-Huan of Singapore, Pusonnam Yiri of Nigeria, and Larry Brook of the USA. Selected entries from the two LittWorld writing contests will be shared in e-book format at LittWorld 2022 in Hungary, April 24-29.
My Raven by the Brook
By Precious Colette Kemigisha
The crunch of the snow beneath my feet as I walked the few blocks to my new friend Natasha’s house on that December evening was the furthest thing from what I was used to.
Under the brilliant sunshine of Kampala, the dust would seep into all the pores of my skin and hair with silent precision. I was used to that, the brown dirt and intense heat, so the cold in Edinburgh was still a shock even after a year of living there as I pursued my Master’s degree in Literature.
The past few months had passed by in a blur of writing my dissertation and working at the local theatre in the evenings and weekends to make ends meet. While I liked my course and the unexpected perk of getting to enjoy plays for free during my shifts, my homesickness was like a choking grip on my heart that sucked out all the joy and turned each day grey.
In church on Sundays, tears streaked my cheeks as I turned towards the wall and worshiped the only friend I had, my father God. The sadness made it hard to open up to anyone but Him because I wasn’t sure people would understand.
One Sunday, having arrived early to make sure I grabbed my usual seat on the mezzanine level of the church, right next to the wall, I saw a young lady walk down the row and sit a chair away from me. I turned to the wall and rolled my eyes in irritation, wondering why she had decided to come as close to me as possible when there were tens of other empty seats to choose from.
Then, to my utter dismay, she turned to me with a huge smile and started chatting! Oh, God! Couldn’t she see that I just wanted to be left alone? I had mastered the art of the artificial smile from my job so I used it as I plotted my escape.
However, my interest soon grew into curiosity as Natasha told me she had moved from Belarus and had no family or friends in Edinburgh so the church was her main solace. I saw that her smile reached her eyes, and she was sincerely interested in what I had to say. So, when she asked me if I wanted to come to her place for lunch after the service, to my surprise I said, “Yes!”
I didn’t know how starved I was for true friendship but, of course, my good Father knew and as we ate her traditional beetroot soup that afternoon, I found myself opening up like a flower in bloom under the rays of the summer sun.
As I had walked to Natasha’s that December day, I smiled. I felt a tingle of joy as I anticipated the hot meal that she’d prepared for us. I was grateful that I hadn’t run away to my cave of solitude that fateful Sunday when the tall, pretty lady came to sit near me!
Her friendship was like an oasis in the desert of my loneliness. I looked up at the dusk sky and thanked God for sending me my very own raven to feed my aching heart just like He had sent ravens to feed Elijah as he hid in the cave by the brook. He knew that I needed hope and had sent me a friend to offer hot meals, companionship and, mainly, laughter, just when I needed it most! I quickened my pace. Life was meaningful and good once again!
Precious Colette Kemigisha is a Ugandan writer and editor living in Kampala. She is passionate about telling stories from an African point of view, and her writing aims to show Africa and its beautiful people in an authentic light.
Read Kathryn Andersen’s second-place entry here.