Kanika: Poet. Lover of Words. One who tells the stories of the mundane and inanimate. Bearer of Light, Water, and Sky.
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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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Written June 6, 2016
I arrived to my village yesterday. It is a small village in the lower river region of The Gambia. It is full of red sand and mango trees. The children here run and play freely right alongside the goats, chickens cows, and donkeys. My host father owns cows, sheep, and chickens. At night, gathers his cows into a general area. My host mother is a lively woman with dark skin like licorice. She's quite beautiful! She had seven children that I have met but I only remember my little brother Ali. He says he is 22 but I think he might actually be younger. Today we sat under one of the mango trees in front of our compound and he said to me, "Why have you come to this place? I want to go someplace beautiful." I told him that I thought the village to be quite beautiful indeed. After that my host mother and two of my younger siblings went to the school for a program. A zimba dancer in an elaborate lion costume proceeded to entertain us by dancing, scaring little children and chasing away anyone that did not have a ticket. It was a crazy interesting welcome to my new home.
I just got done fetching my water from the tap and a group of small girls got quite the laugh at me trying to carry water on my head! I laughed too but its amazing how much lighter the bucket is on your head than in your hands.
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