THE MAHOGANY DANCER
Kamon (Diane Therrien)
Copyright © 2015 by Kamon (Diane Therrien)
Edited by Robyn Opie Parnell
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More than 50 titles…
VIKTOR IN LOVE
CLINT THE LINT KEEPER
LITTLE CROC KEEPS HIS PROMISE
WALLY THE WANNABE PET
THE ONION AND THE PEARL …
Thank you to my best friend, Khun Pranee Yuenyongvanichakij, for her invaluable help and support.
I wrote this book for the children of St. Mary’s Orphans SOET, Uganda.
Nangoma sat under the mahogany tree, her heart flooded by sadness, like the baobab can be full of water.
The tree was not magic but the tree was her secret place. The huge majestic mahogany always helped her return to the present moment whenever she boarded a sad train of thoughts.
Nangoma had a dream that she had put aside while caring for her father but, in this lonely afternoon, the dream came back, blowing through her lips.
Nangoma remembered her dad telling her, “Put your dream in front of you and let it become the light in the night. You don’t need to sit and think, sit and think; act, but act in a way that will make your dream become a reality. “
“I let go of my dream and I lose my shining light,” Nangoma thought.
Nangoma loved music; she wanted to become a dancer. Last year, she saw publicity posters for the Academy of Ballet and her father had agreed to take her there. She had attended a few lessons and then her dad became too sick to drive her to the city for her classes. Her dad’s health got worse and now he was gone.
Nangoma fiddled in her pocket and took out her dad’s phone, his last possession. She could not use the phone as she had no money. Anyway, who would she call? She did not know anyone outside of the orphanage.
Nangoma fidgeted with the phone and, by luck, pressed the file icon. Out came a list of subfolders; download, images, music…
“Music?” Nangoma thought and pressed the first audio file.
Tam taratatadam tam tam tam taratatadam. The air was filled with a rap she had never before heard. Nangoma did a few instinctive steps. She gave in to the smile creeping on her lips.
She played the song again and again, adding footstep patterns to the well rhymed music. After a few times, she stopped and looked up at her old friend the mahogany tree.
“Better dancing than being bored,” Nangoma said. “This dancing may not be ballet but it is free and it is here now. Thank you for that piece of luck, my friend. I always havegood ideas under your shade.”
Nangoma thought she heard rustling in the leaves. She smiled again and walked away.
Nangoma returned to the mahogany tree every day and replayed the song, adding more and more steps to her dance routine.
“I will follow my dream,” Nangoma said. “I love dancing. I cannot dance ballet. There is no way I can go to a dancing school now. I will dance something else. I will find a free school.”
Nangoma went to look at a nearby café, where music VDOs played on screen. She watched through the window and, in a small notebook, took notes and sketched steps. She created
names for the steps and added them to her collection.
Then she went back to the mahogany tree to rehearse the song, adding new, innovative and sometimes challenging steps.
Nangoma had no friends to whom she could tell her story. Maybe she was not confident enough to share what she was practicing under the tree. But the dancing chased her sadness away and, after a few months, she was becoming good at dancing raps.
“I am happy,” Nangoma told the mahogany tree.
“Yes, you look happy, Nan, and you dance well.”
Nangoma stared at the tree in wonder. For a moment she thought the tree had answered. Then she turned and saw the caring smile of Miss Leondre.
“I have seen you practicing under this tree for months. It is amazing to witness the change dance makes to your mind, Nangoma. You become a shining light when you dance.”
“Thank you, Miss. So it is okay for me to come here and practice rap?”
“It is more than okay,” Miss Leondre said. “Are you aware that we are preparing the orphanage show, hoping the show will bring funds we need to buy a water pump?”
“I think we need you on stage. Would you agree to perform your rap?” Miss Leondre asked.
Nangoma’s heart pounded. “Do you think I am good enough? Other kids will not laugh at me?”
“Nangoma, you are talented, I would not ask if I thought you couldn’t do it,” Miss Leondre said. “Deal?”
“Deal!” Nangoma beamed.
Miss Leondre had more in mind for Nangoma. She contacted her best friend at the local TV station and, without mentioning Nangoma, asked the station to cover the orphanage show.
the day of the show, the other children performed well; songs, skits and funny monologues. Nangoma was nervous, even though she had been rehearsing her dance to perfection. When it was her turn to come on stage, she did not need to think about steps and routine. She just danced with all her heart, and a beaming smile, bringing happiness to the audience.
To the TV crew, Nangoma was just another performer… until they saw her dancing. The cameras captured her dancing like a real star.
The day after the show was broadcast, reporters called the orphanage with requests to see the amazing dancer Nangoma.
Nangoma appeared on national television and told her story to millions.
People offered Nangoma scholarships abroad
Nangoma followed her dream, working as a dancer and performing with a famous singer.
A few years later, Nangoma returned to her village to fulfill two secret promises.
Nangoma spoke to her dear friend the mahogany tree. “I am grateful for the peaceful moments under your shade that helped me stay in the present moment and live my dream. In appreciation, I will take your pods and grow mahogany trees on the land I bought.”
Nangoma thought she saw the leaves shivering.
Nangoma gave her land to the orphanage. A new orphanage was built among the mahogany trees, where orphans could be children and learn to follow their dreams.
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Kamon, Abenakis metis, was born in Quebec in 1957. Kamon has been living in Asia for 30 years. Kamon’s books are published in French, English and some in Chinese. With more than 50 titles published, Kamon writes funny children’s books seasoned with mindfulness, a relevant topic in today’s world.