You know when I went away to the Army 25 years ago...

Upon arriving at site 15 months ago I was greeted by my soon to be host father at the train station. His son and I had met on the train coming from PST and we had decided that it would be a wonderful opportunity for all involved parties if I were to live with them for my required 6 months, before moving out on my own. Within the first couple of weeks I was a guest at many houses as I met cousins, brothers, aunts, and grandparents. All of them had the same similar questions as to how I arrived in country, if I liked the food, and if I was already accustomed to the -20C weather.

The brother of my host father had finally heard enough of the same information and therefore asked how it came to be that I was living with his brother and his family.  Serik, my host father, quickly jumped in and answered: "You remember when I went to Germany to serve in the army 25 years ago?"  "Yes," his brother replied. "Well, I might have had a Germany girlfriend while I was there that I told no one about. She became pregnant around the same time that I was leaving to return to Kazakhstan. About 5 months ago this women contacted me to tell me that I was her father and that she wanted to come see me. And, here she is, my long lost daughter."  The room fell quiet while family members tried to gauge whether the story was true or not.  They all knew that I was 25 years old, and therefore had little reason to doubt that it was the truth.  Slowly a smile rose on Serik's face and the laughter began to roar! The joke had been played out VERY well!

I assumed that I understood the story, but since it was told in the Russian language I thought maybe I didn't understand it all.  It was not until later that I had my counterpart, who speaks English, translate the story that I realized not only was I correct in understanding, but that I was forever more going to be Serik's "long-lost daughter".


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“Sunset at the Railroad” by PCV Nicholas Baylor Hall. Namibia, 2011.