I have been in The Gambia, West Africa for 31 days
I've endured diarrhea, rock hard stool and constipation
Flaming Insect bites
Hunger pains and vomit on my shoes
(thankfully it was mines)
Crash landing into a new language
A million vaccinations and the malaria meds from hell
Inefficient communication through email, Whatsapp, and text messages
And rice and bread
And rice and more bread
And the occasional treat of beans
Ramadan and break-fast and dinners that begin at 10pm
Sweaty nights, bucket baths, sweaty mornings, and sweatier days
Growling cows, rowdy chickens, disrespectful sheep
And goats that stop traffic to nurse their kids in the middle of the road
The most amazing part of it all has been
Hearing my name shouted as I walk through the village
Inheriting an entire family
And my baby sister shouting, "Jo-ko aarrii!" when I come home from class then running to hug me
The slim silhouette of my host father in the field with his cows
And then there's my host mothers back
Onyx and smooth
Absorbing the moon's light as she starts her nightly chores
Cooking over an open flame with charcoal that was made in our village
All of this
With a child wrapped to her back or seeking nourishment from her breasts
People have asked me,
"What is it like?"
"What do you like most?"
I can't really answer
This experience is not a straight line
It is the Call to Prayer broadcasted throughout the village
Five times a day from the speakers of the mosque
It is attonement and fasting
It is dedication and preparation
A culmination of small events that make an everlasting memory
This experience is my new reality.
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Kanika: Poet. Lover of Words. One who tells the stories of the mundane and inanimate. Bearer of Light, Water, and Sky.