Wednesday, August 06, 2008
The Story Ends...The Story Begins
I can not remember when I ate my last mango. It isn’t that I really care that much about mangoes, though Zambian mangoes are heavenly. I am bothered because it has left my memory. One of so many moments that was vivid and living at the time and is now gone forever from my mind.
Things that are now clear and bright, will they fade into gray after a few days, a few months, a few years?
Will I remember the feel of Mrs. Kapuwe wiping tears from my face? The way Beene’s face glows by the fireside? The sound of JoJo’s laugh? Will the jingle of a dog collar always make me think of Rocky outside my door in the morning? Will I remember how gigantic and pink the sun gets just before it sets here? Bertha’s ability to hang upside down in my chikuta? Will I still have ears to hear the sound of Club Mweka kids singing? Will I remember the way the sun rises over the marsh causing the mist on the grass to look like diamonds in a sea of weeds? Will I forget my “African” tree on the hill? Nambula’s eyebrow raise? The sound of chickens, birds, donkeys, goats, cows, dogs, children at all hours of the day and night? If I came back in a year would I still know every path, be able to see in the dark, and walk through the bush without fear? Will I remember the feel of a feverish Lindiwe in my arms? And Chipo’s smile? Or Busiku and Beene singing next door? Will I be able to close my eyes and picture the trillions of stars in the Zambian sky?
My Zambia has faces now. It is no longer a mass of people suffering from all kinds of calamities. It is watching Mrs. Mpongo healing people every day at the clinic. Being by her side as she is being bathed, too weak to wash her own body. It is remembering her smile, her beauty, her choices, her struggles, her funeral. Zambia fills me with frustration at what could have been, what can be.
My Zambia is Mrs. Kapuwe caring for her own children and nieces, nephews, sister-in-laws, her husband. It is listening as she talks of the pain of staying with a husband who no longer speaks to her, who is cheating on her with her “friends”. She has no way to leave, no way to complete the school she left at grade 7 when her parents died and she chose to get married. My Zambia fills me with anger at injustice, pride at the strength of friends, awe at faith that endures through hardships.
My Zambia is all of that and so much more. Too big, too deep to find words to explain it all. I am choosing not to forget. I am choosing to mourn the loss of this time in my life of living in community with these friends that I have come to love.
I am also choosing to come home, to begin life again in my country. To return to a country filled with choices and luxuries. I am choosing to find a way to reconcile these lifestyles, to cope with the understanding that Colorado Springs and Chifusa village co-exist in the same place and time. It is mind boggling.
I choose to be a voice for my Zambia, so that in some way, you also, will not forget.