Waking Up

Ariel Vardy - Senegal


November 29, 2012

The same boy comes every morning. He sways in drunken tired, holding a thick piece of bark. He mutters the normal greetings, and then holds out the bark, showing his charming kid smile, three teeth missing in the front of his mouth— stained dust or food wiped across his lips and lower jaw. He wears the same tattered oversized yellow shirt, the neck sagging far down his chest, the cloth gaped with holes and openings. He takes the fired, hot charcoal he was waiting for with an embarrassed thank you, and paces away. He’ll later come with two brown dirty water bottles, flattened from over use, tied together by some attempt at making string. He’ll use the well quietly and walk away.

I never questioned why the boy came to our house for the hot coals, matches probably cost 100 cfa, which is roughly 20 cents. I really didn’t even think that hard, he was just a part of my morning scenery, I barely even consciously told myself he was there.

He came too early, before my brain had totally defrosted for the day. He doesn’t really surfaces in my morning trance, I’m always locked in a daze. I sit on the bamboo bench, or reed mat on the flattened dirt between our small straw huts and look out— Distant mountains propping frizzed greens of trees, holding jutted rock cliffs, and letting go of the waking birds to the sky. The fragile blue and dark red birds fly in, and I shift my attention to the metallic green flies and Costco sized wasps, buzzing at my ear. The diversity of life is fractal and beautiful, but sometimes I simply watch my family during their morning routine. One is brushing their teeth with their finger and water, while another is sweeping the dirt ground of my baby brother’s morning pooping. Then here in comes the boy, through our fence of tree branches, right past my sister praying, and my mom cooking corn porridge, past all of our loud and endlessly fighting chickens, and he takes his fire discretely, leaving to who knows where.

“Homidou, arga fi hacitaade, men jogi mboyri hande, no welli”, my mom says to me.

As quick as that my head is thrown out of the clouds as I almost forget to decode the foreign language that was thrown at me. I get off my bench and walk over to my family huddling around luke warm corn porridge before starting the day’s work. The kid has long walked off and I will have him forgotten until my next morning daze, but don’t worry, he’ll come again.

Ariel Vardy