Children of the Wave …Inspired by the Tsunami ten years ago
Children of the Wave
by Aaron and Sari Zerah
My name is Sari and I am seven years old. My name is from the Arabic language and it means princess and most noble. That’s what my dad says to me every night when he puts me to bed. He says, “Most precious, most wonderful, most noble child.”
I call my dad Abba. That’s dad in the Hebrew language. Abba is an Interfaith Minister and he goes all over the world to tell stories and help kids.
That’s how I got to be friends with Ahmed. He’s a boy and he lives in a place called Indonesia. Some of Abba’s friends from there said that kids were hurting in their hearts ‘cause lots of people were fighting in Indonesia and they wanted Abba to come – and me too!
I really wanted to go help but Abba had to make sure it was safe first. Abba’s friends told us we could stay with Ahmed and his family in a place very far away from the fighting. I said, “Yay! When are we going?” Abba said we were going to go right after my birthday!
I wanted to tell Ahmed all about how I was born in California and riding my bike by the ocean and playing with my friends on the swings at school. I wanted to know what he did for fun where he lived. I asked Abba if I could send a letter to Ahmed and Abba said, “That’s a great idea, Sari.”
I drew pictures of my family and my house and sent them to Ahmed and Ahmed sent me pictures of his family and his house that he drew. He lives in a house right near a beach. My house is right near a beach too. Ahmed has a lot of big coconut trees near his house. I don’t like coconuts but I like the trees. I have really tall trees growing near my house that smell nice. I put some leaves from a tree in the letter I sent Ahmed.
Every time I got a letter back from Ahmed I wanted to go right away to see him. Finally, it was my birthday and I got a big surprise. I opened my present from Abba and there was a beautiful dress from Indonesia just the right size for me!
It took a long time on the plane to get to Indonesia. Then we had to drive a long way and get on a boat to go to Ahmed’s house. He and his mom and dad and his baby sister came running out to see us. Well, actually Ahmed’s mom was carrying his sister ‘cause she didn’t walk. They looked a lot like the funny pictures Ahmed sent.
The next day we got invited to a big party on the beach. Ahmed and his friends and everyone in the whole village came. They had lots of fish and rice and vegetables which I had eaten before. Ahmed was eating a big rice ball and he asked me if I wanted one. I tried it and it was really good. I didn’t know it had sweet coconut in it!
There were people hitting sticks on a weird instrument that looked like a wood xylophone. Ahmed and some of his friends started to dance and I did too. It was fun!
Then everyone got really quiet. It was time for a special puppet show where all you watched were the shadows the puppets made. That’s how they tell the story.
Ahmed and I sat right next to each other and watched the shadows. It was kind of creepy. There was a picture of a big, scary woman in the ocean with long hair and she looked very crazy. She had really long arms and she was trying to grab people on the beach.
Ahmed whispered to me, “That’s a picture of Ratu Kidul. She’s someone that people in Indonesia say lived a long time ago and Ratu Kidul got really mad and wanted to hurt people.” Then a shadow came and fought with Ratu Kidul and stopped her from dragging people into the ocean. I was happy and Ahmed was happy but we were still a little scared when the puppet show ended.
Abba and I got to hear a lot more stories and we got to tell some stories too before we had to leave. I liked Ahmed and his friends a lot. When we had to say goodbye, I was sad. I promised to keep sending letters to Ahmed and he promised to send letters to me.
After we got back home, the next letter I got from Ahmed had a strange picture in it. It looked like Ratu Kidul in the ocean trying to grab Ahmed on the beach. I thought maybe Ahmed was having scary dreams. Maybe he was dreaming about Ratu Kidul and he was afraid she was going to come out of the ocean in a big wave!
Then I thought about all the shells Abba and I painted. “Abba,” I said, “I’m going to the beach to get shells.” Abba said, “Do you want me to come?” and I said, “No, I want to pick out a shell myself.”
I looked and looked and looked for just the right one to give Ahmed. I found it right next to a shiny rock. It was one of those big curvy ones that you can put up to your ear. Then it sounds like the ocean is whispering to you.
I picked it up and listened. It was just right for Ahmed. But I wanted to do something else to make it special and make it magic. I took it home and got out my special paints. I painted the shell for Ahmed with all the colors of the rainbow and lots of pink and purple and light blue and dark red and orange too ‘cause they’re my favorite colors.
Abba helped me wrap the magic shell and we put it in a special box and sent it to Ahmed. Then one day, it was right after Channukah and Christmas, I was playing near the beach, kind of watching the waves, and Abba came out.
Abba’s face looked funny, not the kind of funny that makes me laugh. He looked sad and worried, like he looked when I was really sick. “Sari,” he said. “I’ve got something very important to tell you. A gigantic earthquake just happened under the ocean near Indonesia and a really huge wave came up on the land.” “What’s happening to Ahmed, Abba?” I asked.
Abba said, “I don’t know, Sari. We’ll have to wait and keep feeling love in our hearts for Ahmed and his family and all the other kids and families. We can help by getting food and clothes and other things that kids like Ahmed and their family really need.”
I got all the money out of our Tzedakah box. That’s the box where we put our money to help kids and people. I gave Abba a bunch of extra money from my money box too. That’s lots of money I saved from Nana and Grandpa. They helped lots of people in the war when they were kids.
It was a long time and we didn’t hear anything about Ahmed. Then one day Abba showed me a box I got in the mail with my name on it. I saw it had Ahmed’s name on it too.
I was so excited. I got my scissors and cut it open. Inside there was something wrapped in a whole bunch of paper. I took away the paper and there was a really big shell.
Ahmed sent me a magic shell just like the one I sent him, only his shell had lots of green and red and brown painted on it. I guess those are Ahmed’s favorite colors. I picked up my magic shell and put it to my ear. I wondered if I listened really well if I would hear where Abba and I would be going to and the name of my next new friend.