When I look back on this journal I hope I do so with the Happy, the many joyous moments and memories in mind. I tend to use it only when sad, tragic or just strange things happen and I feel as though it is an injustice to my life here to only record those events, although they are numerous, they are not the most important.
Wurdia’s hard work, beautiful back and fabulous taste in blue hued clothing; her dark skin in contrast with the fresh flutter of sand in the air amidst the sinking sun; her application of homemade, hand whipped shea butter – pressed lightly to her fingertips then shoved into the fire to soften, then applied briskly and without care although leaving a glistening and ever-deepening black sheen. The stars glisten often when she works over the fire from the skin on her back. Strong. Solid. She is a truly beautiful woman.
Brahima’s love of children, his patience, his tender touch when they are sick with fever and shakes. His raspy and cooing voice. His humor. His homegrown tobacco. His feverish and insistant (thank god) handwashing techniques before each meal eaten with me. His night blindness and his attempt at covering it up. His humor and insistence that I eat more… always eat more. His pride in his work, his children, his country, his history, his life. His good nature.
Dabi walks like an 8 month pregnant woman. The reason for this is that he is severely malnourished, leaving him with a terribly bloated belly and tiny frail legs. It is, however, one of my favorite things when he runs to me, carrying his belly in one hand and waving with the other, completely naked and shoves his (perpetually filthy) face between my knees… just waiting…. Loving… holding on. When he walks away in the night to fetch a shirt (which he does rarely without provocation) or a cup of water for Brah he waddles. Proud and bowlegged and beautiful.
When I wake up in the morning I stretch. Immediately. Then I make my bed and fumble my way to my kitchen hut and being my morning ritual of making coffee and oatmeal… these two things are olfactory reminders of Ryan and simplicity and the importance of both in my life.
The smiles here, even with tongueless elders and tooth decay rampant, are fantastically genuine. They are effortless, natural and painfully simple. Elegant. Insightful. Happy.
When a breeze cuts across the sweat beneath my chin and behind my legs it cools me down for moments in which I feel as if I am floating. Chilled often for mere moments.
When a garden here is successful, you can taste it, smell it, feel it. People are immediately happier after eating a raw and lovely red tomato, or chomping down on a local-eggplant or finding their way through the tough surface of a lime.
Itty bitty bits of goodness. Everyday. Everywhere. I’ve got to be more receptive. perceptive.