It has been slightly over a month since my return from Rwanda. It's a small country but packed full of adventures, natures, history (unfortunately bloody) and of course, wonderful explosive burst of colors.
Lamu town is the heart of the Lamu archipelago, with a predominantly Muslim population. Life still goes by leisurely on this beautiful island, immersed in a Swahili culture rooted here since the 14th century. We were led by our dhow boat captain, Jamal, maneuvering the narrow winding streets of Lamu town after the Muslims ended their daily dawn to dusk fast during Ramadhan. We were stocking up supplies for our 3 day 2 night dhow boat sailing trip tomorrow.
"We need booze. Where do we get them here?" We asked Jamal, sheepishly. We were asking Jamal, a Muslim, to show us where to get alcohol in a Muslim town during the holy month of Ramadhan. We noticed the irony and laughed awkwardly over it. We were so going to hell!
After a 20 minute walk in dark, in what seemed like a maze, we came to the place, Lamu Police Canteen. Booze available for sale in the police canteen?! Talk about irony, again!
So, tugged behind the counter (or was it a bar?) was a small room. The door swung open and lights turned on, and this...
During my last trip back from Sudan, I came home to a whole balcony of pigeon poo. My balcony, pigeon shit EVERYWHERE! That stank up the whole place to high heaven. Though exhausted, I scrubbed the place down, grumpily. Then I found them, 2 baby pigeons nesting under my drying and dying pots plants. That explained the shit then, you two little buggers.
Then I remember the cold and drizzly morning when I got to Fisherman's Camp on the shore of Naivasha Lake. As I walked up to the camp ground office under the dense canopy of pine trees, a bird flew over and took a dump on me. The lady at the office smiled at me gleefully and told me that the African believe that getting shit on by a bird is a sign of good luck.
Now with a balcony of bird shit, oh good luck to me!
The view from my balcony on a late evening after an earlier downpour. The sun making the final appearance before the curtain of nightfall being drawn. The air was still heavily saturated with the moisture from the rain, shrouding the city with a thin veil of mist and refracting the last rays of the day, gloriously.
It was about 9 at night in Africa when my sister called to tell me the news. I accepted it quite matter-of-factly. It was a shock but I was calm about it. Perhaps my senses were all numbed by the shocking news that I appeared to be calm. There was not so much sadness at that moment. It was relief, that he finally came to the end of his road. That night I did not shed a tear.
My flight was scheduled 8.30 the next evening. I've been taking this route a few times before but this time seemed to be torturously long. I was not sure how the mood would be when I reach the funeral home. I thought I would cry seeing mom. I thought I would cry looking at dad laying still in the coffin. But I did not. I held them tears in, damming them tears up in my eyes.
On the morning of the funeral, we were briefed on the ceremony. When I saw the hammer on the table, to be used to pound in the nails sealing the cascade shut, I was stirred a little within. I thought I would cry hearing the sound of the hammering. It wasn't thundering loud amidst the chanting of prayers by the monk. But it was clearly audible, and shaking. I tried blocking it out, throwing my thoughts far away. I did not cry.
It has been more than 3 weeks.
I was on the flight returning to Africa for work. Another long haul. I was watching Larry Crowne, a new comedy flick starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. Hanks played a recently retrenched blue collar taking speech class in a community college taught by Roberts, who played the professor role. It was a scene of their final exam where students were to make a 2 minute speech in front of the class on a previously given random topic. Hanks was giving his speech on Geography Show, and he was relating his 20 years serving the navy, the places he had been to, the things he had seen and done. That moment, tears just welled up in my eyes. Full, and they streamed down ever so gently. There were funny bits in the movie then but sadness was hanging heavy around me. I thought of dad and his life. I wasn't sobbing uncontrollably but the tears just kept trickling down my cheeks, non-stop.