Caridad sat down with Edra to see if she could get to the bottom of this turmoil. For the month since she arrived, she had turned the place upside down. Caridad was uncomfortable broaching this subject but knew this had to be done. She fumbled awkwardly and began with extending an invitation to an upcoming after work get together. As much as she wished that she could side step the many issues, Caridad knew this was the moment. The villagers were buzzing about Edra's unkempt look. Foul smells were attributed to her, some held their noses, others disappeared as soon as Edra entered their space. Caridad had brought in deodorant, body wash and cream, to keep the odor down and the dry skin away. She knew it would be difficult to explain such gifts but she would give it a try. Edra took Caridad by surprise, she thanked her and said she was happy she brought this concern to her. Caridad knew this was too easy and expected some repercussion. Caridad shivered at the half smile that broke out on Edra's face.
She must have spent the night getting a new hairdo because the next day her hair was neatly styled, every strand in place, a far cry from the days past when pieces of weave were found in the hallway, bathroom or anywhere Edra had visited for the day.
The villagers were coming around, they were still faced with a rebel but nevertheless a cleaner rebel who smiled more often, who had began to have civil conversations. One day when they were all sitting down at lunch, which happened rarely now; the stand-up comic of the village cracked a joke and Edra began laughing. Her laugh continued when everyone else's had ended. The group stared away and Caridad felt uneasy. They wanted laughter but this did not feel right. They let this slide like so many things because they were banking on change. They wanted to be as cohesive they were before so that they were willing to savor flashes of hope.
By now they had extended their celebrations to include birthdays, the entrance of a new addition to our world and tying the knot. As if that was not enough, they had laid claims on the families of the villagers and if one of the children did well in school, it was a reason to bring out the drums. They knew little of Edra, everything was shrouded in secret and when she did speak and they compared notes, nothing seemed to match,everyone had a different version. "Who is this among us?" Caridad began to wonder. The mysterious one lies through her teeth. "Liar, liar, pants on fire" she thought she heard voices chanting. Caridad dismissed this but knew for sure that she would not give up, she believed in giving everyone a chance, she believed that some good can come out of this. This was a troubled soul, calling out for help and although they were not Social Workers, they collectively had a lot of love and caring to give.
Caridad truly believed that if they continued to nurture, paid attention and showed this person that she is loved, that a miracle will happen. It was hard work, straightening out every misunderstandings, pushing her suspicions aside that people were talking about her, giving individual attention so she would not feel left out. This certainly took a toll on them, but Caridad counted the crack of a smile coming from Edra as a blessing.