This is Africa.
My intestines regularly remind me of it, in near constant protest at my continental shift. I am stalked by pervert mosquitoes to whom clothes pose no impediment and all they want is my blood.
The security regulations have me all chicken-caged. Bound by the darkness that always falls too fast, I cannot walk and I am growing plump, overfed and a little irritable. Maybe it is just as well those mozzies love me…
Here the weather changes fast. The burning sun is drenched by rolling clouds and rumbling thunder. Rain falls as if it lusts for the earth, a giddy dizzy rush to be lost in its hard heat, to be obliterated as the heavy sky frowns down in disapproval. Then in a breath, its gone and the blinding blue is back. Each time it seems that blue will stretch forever, defying memory to call back the storms.
I am so battered with impressions that maybe I need the long still hours of darkness to let them sink in, to let them make their mark on me. Perhaps the dents will make me into something more beautiful, more interesting, a battered bronze.
I see my own privilege in almost everything, reflected back to me as a smiling but slightly smug friend, someone a touch too familiar. Back home it is easy to forget that my white skin is a flag that speaks for me even when I wouldn’t want to own the words.
I had to laugh when I was handed a plate of ‘white man food’ – it seems everyone knows there is always more meat on my plate.
It makes no sense to pretend I have not got what I have, surrounded by the lives I’ve never lived, but this is not a role I am used to playing. I kind of wish some flashy expat would show up with a big Land cruiser, an Ipad and a Kindle and put me back in my place…..
The villas on the hill do their job, reminding us all that there are always higher places, always greener gardens.
I don’t want to apologise or patronize and no one has asked that of me. After all this is not about me. I am just a flicker.
We all live, laugh, eat and shit whatever food we eat. We are all learning our own lessons, though there are few simple answers. All journeying, but some paths are much much harder than others. Some smash rocks.
Here I am reminded envy is a joke – as my angry eyes glance up, there are always countless thousands below.
Be grateful, be kind, be real – the rest is decoration, passing clouds.