After I edited his stories, he rewrote them into a new notebook I gave him. He decorated the cover – how neat, right?! I wasn’t even expecting that.
The stories are the same, just with some grammar and punctuation changes from my editing.
Then I read this:
“Miss Mathebula this is for you now. Thanks to believe me about these stories, other people don’t believe me. Miss you’re the best person in my school. And you’re kind of like my mom. Give me a name that you like best.”
Awwwwwwwwwwwwww – awww, aww, aww. Once again, it’s the little things that show me why I’m here – even if it’s just editing a kid’s stories during my free time. May I add – I unexpectedly play the “mama role” again in my service work.
So, what English name did I decide to name him? I had to hold back from naming him after my favourite American author, J.D. Salinger or fictional character Holden Caulfield. Salinger is a recluse and a very strange man, but a brilliant writer. Then, there’s my favourite fictional character, Holden Caulfield of the Catcher in the Rye. Slight problem: probably shouldn’t name him after a love-or-hate controversial American writer or my dog, Holden the pug. Slash that thought.
After consulting with my English major and literature loving friend Lauren, we decided to go with Ralph. I wanted to name him after a famous and brilliant American author – something that he’ll remember throughout his school years. Ralph is related to two people: of course, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Ralph Ellison, the author of Invisible Man. I didn’t want to name him after just a white guy because he needs to know that there are famous black authors out there too.
When he gets older and can understand such literature, he can read Emerson and or Ellison’s work and see why they are such valued authors in America. The themes of the works – especially Invisible Man – may resonate with American culture, but this kid is smart and will be smart enough to relate it to his life, eventually. I plan to give him a book or excerpts of these author’s written work when I leave in a long year and a half from now.