Sunday, November 13, 2011
Skyping is bittersweet
Friday, November 11, 2011. Another week has flown, marked only by a jar of dark honey gone. I finished War and Peace yesterday, will start Anna Karenina today. I practiced yoga on the back balcony, waves of burnt garbage only occasionally soiling my concentration on breathing, the feel of my stomach rising and falling beneath my hand. Our roommate, Zoe, from Cyprus, leaves tomorrow, and I feel as if I have yet to know her. Romances have budded between volunteers, new ones are coming, some going, but I keep little interest. I look forward to the occasional yogurt in the morning, mixed with cereal, a delicacy in this porridge filled world. I walk down roads with a scarf wrapped around my hair, trying to cool from the heat that comes into every corner. I sit alone now, on a couch outside, listening to the hum of Swahili from the cleaning ladies perched on buckets in the shade of pillars. Little to report, except the progress of my children. They run up in the gravel path every morning, chanting, "TEACHA TEACHA TEACHA," surrounding me on all sides, little arms covering my dusty skirt, fingers surrounding my hands, smiles covering all. "Go to class, go to class," I say, feebly, my hands pulled in three directions, fought over for area, and fingers, and attention. I write their homework, play games, watch endless graduation rehearsals, sit with Tesia and Melisa Benedict on my lap, as they high five my palm and Diana and Ester play with my hair. They aren't just African Children, the media cliche created by commercials of wide-eyed boys and girls, indistinguishable from what we think children from Africa should be. I say to Alex, who visited my placement for the second time today, it's like they're little people, and she says, I know, it's scary. Why am I surprised? I walked into Bridge for the first time, a sea of black faces and toes and cream plans, and I will leave, seeing raceless classes, individual features, Hilda's beaded hair, Irene Melisa's scars from her burn, Samir's furrowed brow, Bridget's flat forehead and light blue backpack. Kids from other rooms, Proxetta's snub nose and tiny braids, Nikolas' pout and Hagai's wide gapped smile, Faraja's green wellies, Sebra's dimpled chin and pointed ears. Moses's love for playing ball, big Gilbert's pronunciation of stone.