Befriending Sakera


Befriending SakeraSakera, I think about you every day since I left Bangladesh and have the drawing you made me next to my bed.
I wish I knew how you were doing in the camps, and my heart aches knowing I will probably never see you again...but my heart is full from the impact you had on my life.

The first day I met you, you were so scared and SHY of everything around you. Your elbow was broken and you had to have it elevated 24/7 and you hated that. I wanted to talk with you, to get to know you, but struggled because of the language barrier.

I would say something to you via the translator, but you didn’t want to respond, you didn’t want to make eye contact; you had so much fear. I imagine you’re thinking: Who is this strange American girl talking to me? Why does she talk to me and why do I have to talk to her?

I sit next to you on your bed and take my stethoscope off my shoulders and motion that I will touch your chest. I listen to your heart beat, smile...and say “thump, thump...”. Your heart is beating fast, I imagine from being anxious of the strange surroundings.

You have so much fear in your eyes and I want so badly to put you at peace, but know I can’t ease your anxiety via words. So, I hand you my stethoscope and put the ear piece in your ears, and place the diaphragm on my chest so you could hear MY heart beat. Magic! The muscles on your face soften and I almost see a smile surface. I can tell you’ve never heard a heart beat before or touched a stethoscope—your eyes were so unsure and also intrigued.

So then I put the stethoscope to YOUR heart. It was the first time I saw you SMILE. Your eyes told me everything. You turned your gaze toward me with a smile on you face and I could feel your guards go down. I took your hand and placed the chest piece back on my heart and then back to your heart—“thump, thump...thump thump...” We laughed.

The sound of our beating hearts, both beating the same and with the same “thump thump”, I could tell you understood a oneness between us—we were part of each other; human; even though I couldn’t speak your language, even though I was from a different country than you, and even though we follow a different religion. We both have the same beating hearts.

After that moment, everyday, I would braid your hair and let you wear my stethoscope and listen to my heart and also listen to your heart. I couldn’t speak to you in your language but I could let you feel me through my heartbeat.

Last DayThis picture was taken on my last day in Bangladesh, saying goodbye after one last final listening of our heartbeats.

The honest truth is that I will probably never see you again, Sakera. But I hope you are laughing and playing—even though you don’t have a home and only have a small tent in the refugee camp.

I know you miss your home and miss your family members that died. I know you don’t fully understand everything that happened to you or what is happening in this world. You were too young to experience such violence—but your heart is still beating and love pumps through you. Thank you for sharing your love with me.
Thump thump.