The truck pulled up to the house about an hour before sunset. Looking at the whitewashed house, albeit wanting for a fresh coat of paint, I knew I was home. I jumped out of the cab and told the porters in the back to take all of the supplies into the kitchen.

I walked about for a minute before going inside. I had not been here in nearly 20 years. I wandered over to the old Baobab tree and glanced around. The stones marking my parents’ graves were gone. They had likely been stolen to sell as building material. It did not matter, for I remembered where they were buried and it would not cost much to get new stones made. I took another look around and started back towards the house.

Entering through the kitchen, I saw that the brass door knob was gone. Inside I could see the cabinet handles had been stripped too, along with the kitchen table and the other furniture we had left behind. I walked over to the sink, amazed the metal spicket was still there. I pumped the handle a few times and a trickle of clear, cool water appeared. Thank God!

After that, I meandered into the drawing room and saw what had been left. A broken chair in the corner and an old Charpaya were all the furniture left in the entire house. In addition, above the fireplace another gift had been left for me.

It was the ugliest piece of taxidermy I had ever seen. It was an elk, but whoever mounted the thing had used an improper mold and the snout was misshaped. The eyes were also wrong, with replicas of goat eyes, with square pupils, being used instead of round pupils. It was probably a job done cheap for the regional party boss who moved into the house after we left. He probably had not even shot the elk himself.

Hunting this farm had been my greatest joy growing up. Flushing chukars from the orchards with my shotgun at the ready. Patrolling the pastures during calving season with my rifle, lest a wandering leopard try for an easy meal. I loved this land!

This land, once growing enough food to feed half the province, was now only growing weeds. That is why I was back, because the regime was desperate to prevent a famine and promised full restitution to all of the farmers forced out. I doubt I will ever see a cent of actual restitution, but the land and house were enough to sign me up.

I had tried to convince Sabrina to return with me, but she would not hear it. She had married a fellow from the homeland a few years prior and had just given birth to my nephew last summer. She insisted her life was in Europe now, but she and her son had as much right to this place as I did. We all shared mother’s Portuguese blood, which tied us to this continent for at least the past 500 years, if not longer.

While I was pondering all of this, one of the porters entered the drawing room.

“Truck’s unloaded, boss man.”

“Oh, very good,” I replied, pulling a wad of wrinkled bills out of my pocket and placing them in the man’s hand.

He gave a slight bow and I watched as he and his mates divided up the money and began their walk back to town.

I strolled back into the kitchen and looked at my pile of supplies. I would need a lot more to get this farm running again, and I would need some help, too. I planned to go into town tomorrow and buy what I could, backorder the rest, and hire some hands.

I fished a couple blankets out of the pile of things and walked back into the drawing room. My eyes fixed on the Charpaya, which would be my bed for the night. Its sagging ropes spoke to its heavy use by past residents. Still, it beat the floor.

I laid down on it and shut my eyes for the first time since returning to the continent. I would make something for dinner in a bit, but for now I just wanted a moment’s rest. I was home.

Yet something was off. I felt as if I was being watched. I opened my eyes and scanned the room. My eyes fixed upon the square pupils of the elk staring intently at me.

I shut my eyes again. Tomorrow I would also take that damn thing outside and burn it.