Africa · Congo · Memories

I miss Africa

You know…I was in bed, getting ready to say my prayers when I passed my whole day in review, something I try to do consciously every night, and I realized that I started and ended the day pretty much with two quite alien things to what my life in Congo used to be like: movie entertainment and malls. And I almost feel like I lost myself. Right now I can close my eyes and i am there again, all the scents and bussle, and energy come rushing back in and I forget that I am nervous, really, of returning. It reminds me of meeting someone you knew so many years ago, in what feels like almost another life, and just before you ring the doorbell the fear seizes you of “what if they don’t recognize me? what will I do with that painful silence…” When I get back it will be ten years since I left to go to university. My eyes just welled up at the thought, since i’m really just admitting it to myself. I lept out of bed, just now. I couldn’t just sit there with the burgeoning thought any more.

In my email a photo was sitting, of me at a Holy Day celebration, dressed in this Indian regal coat of many shimmering colors in the blinding sun, and I didn’t recognize myself. My skin looked so clear, my eyes and hair so dark and shiny and I look so confident, looking straight into the camera, with a calm smile. Am I the same person right now who is worried about going home? I love Africa so much. It rises up inside of me, and calls on all my sense at once. I can feel the heat jump at my throat as you step down straight onto the tarmac at the airport, air so humid you could roll it up in a large wet wad and pelt it against the tent of the sky, as a separate entity. Body odor everywhere, like a soundtrack, and then the heat, and the humidity, upping one another until the thunder clasps free every suffering person by downpouring fat raindrops that flood the cities, rising the mud and uprooting mango trees with accompanying rains. The wide grey Congo river , to me the most beautiful spot on this earth.

Wide, grey, so dangerous, so chaotic, full of secrets and sunken barges and pirogues, full of demons and small crocodiles, full of power, just downstream, where the most powerful rapids in the world shrink us to non-existence. And the cheeky kids everywhere, selling toys made out of bug spray or mayonnaise or tomato cans, or masks cut with razor blades out of large gum-tree leaves. The smell of fried dough in the morning, and the cries of vegetable-ladies who walk with metal basins overflowing with fruit, in slow, undulating steps. Broken plastic flip flops, the National Shoe of Congo :) strewn on the side of the street, a truck full of workers singing, at the end of a long work day.

RIVER

I do miss it, and I was just lying to myself about wanting to go to London and study. I have no idea what to study right now, it’s been too long since I’ve been home. I need to go back and just admit to myself that is where my heart is, and that is where I am from. I belong. Somewhere, dammit, I belong. A degree isn’t going to give me what I need right now. I’ve finally come to the point where I never run out of a wish to wish for, when those stupid superstitious moments pop along. I always used to wish I would have a permanent wish, some dream I could yearn for honestly whenever the moment presented itself you know? There is one card game I’m addicted to, that you play until you only have one card left, and when that card is a Jack of Spades, you get to make a wish, or when you blow out your birthday candles, or when you’re doing something for the first time, or see a shooting star, you never realize how many opportunities there are to wish. And now I know what I wish for. I want to be able to share my love of Africa with everyone, and write about it and make my living from this. I don’t know Africa, because that’s just the way it is, but I love her. Africa is my homeland. My home. I am part of Africa and Africa is a part of me, and this relationship is complicated. Angered, confused, disappointed, awed, in love, worried, ecstatic, in admiration, what is the next feeling this home can evoke in me? Anticipation for the time being, until I ring the doorbell and am or am not recognized.

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