seek and find

Thursday, June 11, 2009

When the Fence is Made of Bamboo Rods, YouDon’t Want to Be on It for Long

So I’ve been doing this thing lately, where I’ll start to write a post or a letter or a to-do list and I’ll get about a paragraph in and scratch it. It’s sad really, the ways that indecisiveness have entered into my daily life as well as my professional life and more important my written life. I’m on the verge of making a very big decision, one that I cannot announce here yet, because it’s against the rules and also because I’m still on the fence. The painful, annoying, skewering, bamboo fence.

I hope I find my way off sooner than later.

Seeing as how I’d like to, one day, have, at the very least, a paying-hobby in writing, this aforementioned early-signs-of-permanent-indecisiveness-blockage in my hands/heart/mind is troublesome to say the least. Seeing as how, in my current situation, that being: somewhat sick in a leaking-roof hut in the middle of nowhere in West Africa, is made easier to bear by the writings that some of you receive via post and others that you see here on my blog and others still that no one will see… except maybe Fisher in 15 years when we are rifling through old journals trying to find an excerpt for some article that I actually don’t feel like writing (aaah, to dream, eh?). A teammate here, Malian named Chaka Sidibe, and I have discussed this quirk we all have; we all have this one little thing that we do to keep sane. He rides his bike, Liza reads incessantly, Dan plays soccer or climbs cliffs, Megan actually does good deeds for Malians, Jackie escapes to her boyfriends’ place on the river, Christina draws and paints, and I, well I write. And I like to think I write well… at least I did, up until very recently.

I have been sick, with a fever and bloating and really ridiculous bowl movements and eewe and ick. I’ll be the first to tell you that I am a huge wimp when I’m sick, but being sick is compounded tenfold by being sick in West Africa. The heat, the filth, the language, the crass medical facilities, the European bedside manner with Malian attitude, it all adds up and boy oh boy has it done a number on me.
Things in village have been rough, too. The Country Director and the Safety and Securities Officer came to do site visits in my region and while they were in my village we had a lovely time. They gave me a hand, linguistically and with authority, in getting repairs done on my house… or so we thought. After agreeing that indeed my roof should not have 2 inch diameter holes and that my doors should shut and lock without needing a cement block to hold them and yes, the water from my nygen (bathroom) should flow away from my house. Yet, 6 weeks later, 6 weeks that included a French reunion with my parents, Fisher and Ryan being ill, me in a clinic in Bamako for 7 days and my two best friends in country leaving for a month’s visit to the states, there are still no repairs done on my house.
I went to village early this week with a Peace Corps escort only to find my bedroom hut, bed included, ruined (by American standards) by the rain that came through what is now a 6 inch hole; the nygen untouched except by squatting goats escaping beatings from kids; and doors that are not only un-shut-able but nonexistent due to the rain’s damage to the hinges. Tears and anger and Damn it quickly ensued.

My host-dad’s excuse: I forgot about Sydney.

Well, while the village of Mourgoula was forgetting about me, because, in fact, it is the entire village’s task to ensure my living arrangements are up to (a pathetic) standard, I’ve been crying, sick and longing for an answer, a sign, a single sliver of hope, in a disgusting clinic, loosing weight daily and missing Ryan and Home and Life more than I knew possible. It wasn’t pretty.

But then I think: what am I to expect? I haven’t been there in 6 weeks, since Ryan left I’ve been depressed and rather pathetic, they still don’t understand my reaction to the girl who seized and later died, they don’t understand how hard it is to be this far from the one person I want to be as close as possible to for the rest of my life, they don’t understand how weather and sickness and death and water and bee stings can affect an attitude or an afternoon. But it’s not their fault and I’m not saying they don’t understand life. In fact, they surely live their lives to the fullest extent that they see possible and Allah Ka Deme (may god help them in this).

But I’m not them. I don’t understand their acceptance of marrying off sobbing and scared 14 year old girls to 44 year old men who already have 3 wives; I don’t understand how a woman can castrate her 10 month old daughter and then kill a goat in celebration of it; I don’t understand how one can be so patient with the weather and with God’s will that they can just wait around for the ground to soften while their kids go hungry, get sick and die. Again, these are things that I don’t understand and that, although they are shrouded in what could seem to be judgment (and honestly, probably is), I can do nothing about for I am but a cog in the wheel. It makes me rather sick.

So the here we are, fenced. I am happiest when I’m with Ryan O’Brien. I’m terrified of making mistakes and forming regrettable situations. I’m angry at myself for letting it come to this. I’m mad at my host dad for forgetting about me while I have been talking only of them while with my parents in Dives. I’m happy that Dabi is growing and talking and moving around well. I’m at a loss for words when it comes to how precious it is to hear Fisher on the phone, chatting it up with me, knowing that sometime soon I get to be there, chatting it up with him. I’m tired of scaring my parents, friends and loved ones by remaining here and sick and unhappy.

I’m in love. I’m engaged. I’m in Africa.

I think I just cleared the fence.

2 comments:

Tiffany said...

hey you. i have serious empathy for you....serious. if you need anything let me know. i jumped the fence and haven't looked back. always live without regret ;) hugs and loves
Tiffany Bailey

Andrew said...

Hey Syd,

Much love from the ATX. You deserve a LONG trip to Da Trills (or at least Posse East) when you get home! We're all thinking of you, hang in there :)

-apv