Date: 9th October 2013
I wake to the sound of silence. Not a single man-made sound. The sky changes colour above me, from teal to blue to pink to yellow, and I lie watching. There will be only 5 more mornings such as this. A ring-necked turtle dove stirs above in the tree beside me, rolling its gentle cadence across the coolness. I turn towards the light, tucking my blankets and sheets into my neck, and smile as molten gold slowly flows over the eastern horizon.
With a grated cock-a-doodle-do, Ben and Olga, my rooster and hen, descend from their own hiding place high amongst the branches. Today they will be relocated into the village. The same is true for my three-legged calico, Macch, though I’ll admit I’m slightly more attached to her curious ways than the scratching and squawking of my feathered friends.
My blistered hands remind me that today will be another sweltering day of hard work. Yesterday a small group of us dug out a garden in the village, setting up some self-sustenance for the mother of my much-loved twin boys. Its gruelling work as we dig a hip-deep ditch and place palm fronds as a natural, and easily repairable, wall to keep ducks, chickens, cows and goats out. The hoe is hard on my unaccustomed hands, and the palm branches cut and scrape their jagged teeth unforgivingly over the red-hot bubbles littering my fingers and palms. But there is work to be done. And the day will be short.
We pause to toast peanuts in their shell under burning grass, spreading them across the earth to disperse the flames and the heat, huddling in a circle, on buckets, basins, and bare ground, to crack the charcoaled cases.
This is what I needed. A good honest day of manual labour. My head is full, turning over unsaid goodbyes, complicated conversations, and approaching adjustments.
For the last time, I head to Dabgue, my faithful family and friends. As I say my final prayer, my voice cracks under pleas for new light, new life, and new strength as our time together draws to a close. I leave their spiritual wellbeing in its infancy in the hands of God and the help of Dangele Jonas, my trusted friend, respected guard, and big brother. I know that he will follow through, and that this is part of their plan too, not just another landslide consequence to the changes in mine. It has been 2 years that we have been studying together, praying together, laughing together, and supporting one another. It has been 2 years of small steps towards eternity. I sit in silence, tears suddenly finding their fought freedom, as Jonas presents his own petitions in prayer. The familiar rise and fall of the Nangjere phrases wrap themselves forever around this moment’s memory, capturing the epitome of why I came here to begin with – the people, the culture, the language, the love, the light.
And once again I am overwhelmed by such intense desire never to forget. This moment. This place. This people.