Friday is the first day of the weekend in Bangladesh which means time to relax and enjoy the slow roll of small town life. It was good to wake up to the rising heat and the click-clatter of the fan and then fall back to hot dreams and ignore the world for another hour or so.
When I think of it, there is plenty that could irritate and irk. The heat and the humidity is relentless. I get bitten in places I can’t reach to scratch. I seem to be getting sick yet again and work is harder, when half the time I only have a rough idea of what is being said. But none of that bothers me too much.
I’ve been choosing to be happy, to not sweat the little things and most days it has me buzzing with contentment, beaming from ear to ear, glad to be right here right now. When there is so much beauty it is easy to get lost in gratitude, to love living.
I’ve been trying to make a habit of it, to say yes rather than no to myself as much as anyone else, to focus on what brings me joy rather than lingering long with my worries.
Today that meant swimming.
In Bangladesh, as in many muslim countries, there are few opportunities for women to swim. But in the countryside, where there is no piped water, women naturally use pools to wash – so we have a loop hole to go into the water!
When it is this hot, when I’m trussed up and sticky in the acres of clothes I have to wear, I often miss the freedom of slipping into cool water, gliding in the ease of my own skin.
And yet when a girl suggested a swim in one of the murky pools punctuating the paddy fields, my first thought was snakes (you may be noticing a theme in the things that I worry about!), closely followed by Giardia and Dystentery.
But there are days for caution and wisdom, days to be fearful, and days for getting wet, splish-splashing and laughing.
We kept a little sense, checked it was fairly safe with some locals, thought it through for a moment and then decided to take the plunge or more accurately the tumble.
There was no way not to laugh at our undignified slither down the muddy bank, shooing off frogs. Both fully dressed in long trousers and loose long sleeved shirts just in case we were spotted.
I kept thinking ‘spit don’t swallow’ and laughed all the more at the phrase looping through my head.
The water was like a hot bath, so opaque that the bottom could have been fathoms below. Despite the heat on heat, each stroke and pull was a pleasure, a simple celebration of the day, of that place. It was one of those moments memories are made of, a small big thing that will stick and bring a smile far off in a future still unseen.
Of course, it is hard for the only white girls around to do anything discreetly and we soon had an avid audience collecting on the bank. But as if, the men had been scolded away out of respect for our damp-dressed privacy, only women and children came to watch.
They sat and stared at us with the same amazement we’d greet fishes learning to fly and I guess choosing to be happy is a little like taking flight. Something inside is lighter, lifted.