Time passes in a blur, like the images that flash outside the window of a moving bus. Fleeting, fragile, forgotten. A woman’s dress blowing in the wind as she walks alone on a path into her village. A man struggling with his harnessed cattle to plow a small field. Red dirt flying as young boys dig to make clay bricks. A row of girls walking down the train tracks, single file, with buckets of water floating on their heads. An old woman, bent, but walking with strength under a load of firewood.
Then there are the memories that don’t fade so quickly. Flying across dirt paths on a motorbike. Afternoon games of dodgeball between the kids and Deb, evening games of Dutch Blitz with Deb and Putiyei. The constant chopping, stirring and cooking over a charcoal fire by Bibi, Mama Mamati, Mage and others.
The kids and, oh, their never ending hugs and laughs and tears. Inno and Doto karate-chopping the invisible bad guys - and sometimes each other. Quiet, serious Lucia, who always greeted me, “Hi Molly.” She is the Shimmer to Serianne’s Shine. Beatrice’s giggle, Ava’s large eyes and even bigger tears. The million quiet and not-so-quiet smiles - it’s all there, tucked into my memory.
Bright shiny eyes, wide dark eyes with loads of curling eyelashes. The feeling that I may never get my lap back. And, of course, Zawadi. There aren’t enough words for how much I will miss his little laugh.
Time passes and there’s never enough of it. There was so much to do, still is, that it becomes necessary to just live and to reflect later. Much later, as it may turn out to be. I’m so grateful for the time I had, grateful to the people I met and worked with. Grateful for the way people opened up their hearts and homes to us. I’m grateful for the reminders of what really matters and what doesn’t.
The house is still under construction, going well, from the pictures we are getting. It’s hard not to be a part of it on a daily basis but the team on the ground is solid and thoughtful, and they care about the end product as much as anyone.
The thing is, you are there and then you are not. You’re in the middle of the noise, the chaos, the dust and then you’re not, like a vacuum just sucked it all away leaving you back in your original setting, as if it was all a dream.
Now, it seems like that place was quiet and the noise is here. I wonder if all memory subdues noise, makes us think the past was simpler while the present is messy, chaotic, more complex. I was there and I know it was neither simple nor quiet, but it was beautiful.