Saturday evening might have been my lowest low and I say that with some ambivalence in conscience of the fact that I still have six months to go and the fact that it is always too easy to oversimplify things in retrospect, soften past pains to heal lingering ones.
On Saturday evening Rachel and I were stuck in a traffic jam in Dakar, in an old cranky Mercedes that kept on stalling and seemed as though it could break down at any moment. Rachel was driving me home after an afternoon visit to the Parc Forestier de Hann (a nature preserve and a zoo where Rachel’s good friend Mr. Diaham works). Having been extremely ill for the past three days with traveler’s diarrhea I was exhausted, weak and nauseous, and Rachel was probably tired too, if anything from driving around constantly to check up on me and my medical needs. There were bright colorful flashing lights, incessant honking and rumbling of motors and the air was hot and thick with exhaust. I held my head in one hand and handkerchief in the other up to my nose. I was down in one of those deep dark places where I I don’t want to talk or think – just sleep and forget and wake up where I had been three days ago.
I have been deliberating for a while how I would relate my first experience with illness on the blog. I could try to spin some comical tale, ignore it completely and move on to more uplifting stuff, or extract some sort of lesson declaring: indeed, this challenge has made me stronger! It certainly has impacted me greatly, but more than that for now I don’t wish to say. The most difficult part of being ill for me, one which I have never really considered so much before, is the inability to think clearly, reason, gather and filter my thoughts. The mind is such a powerful, useful tool (haha obviously…). For me I think its all about finding those points of convergence between the truth/reality of the world, and the way I would spin the tale if I could. In simpler words, it’s hard to optimistic when you’re sick.
But anyways, I was in the middle of telling a story. After exiting the mercedes, walking home and finding the downstairs of the house empty, I planned to just fall into bed with my clothes on, when a little head poked out of a lighted door up ahead followed by two others and a little voice called me name. Maj, Junor, and Samba were soon running up towards me as I unlocked the door to my room, clearly gleeful about something whether it was my arrival, or the unlocking or a roomful of interesting things. Maj climbed inside the armoire as usual to play peekaboo while the two boys jiggled around goofily, dancing in excitement. It soon became clear that their dance had a specific message this time, as they were both enthusiastically strumming imaginary guitars. I usually don’t give in easily, but this was just too much. I had to nearly force them out of the room while I tuned it, and then we sat on the balcony with tante (aunt) and my host father. We sang Mary had a Little Lamb at least fifteen times, I played a few of my favorites and then everyone watched while I ate a bit of sweet rice which they had prepared for me and took my various pills.
I still find it amazing, how healing music can be. Or little kids who smile and call your name.