My shadow

August 23, 2010

The following is an entry from journal.

During immersion, my favorite part of the day is right before bed. We often finish dinner about 9 p.m. and the night sky is only beginning to repair the hot damage of the day’s sun.

Similarly, my brain feels overworked after several hours of French class and more of constantly forming and conjugating phrases in my head. Days of simply letting words come out of your mouth seemed to be long gone. Besides language barriers, I fought through internal struggles that I’m told are common when suddenly displaced in a foreign place. While my tongue is quiet, my brain seems to be drudging through old memories, asking me to look at the situation in a new light even though it’s moot.

At the end of these days, I’ve reached the point of willingness to pay 10,000 CFA ($20) for a cold, icy glass of water, Instead, I have a cool shower, which is a luxury that my trainee friends at other immersion sites do not get. It’s one spicket and the water is a tin stream, but it’s my latest indulgence.

I want to take my shower before bed so I can change into shorts and a tank top – two clothing items that are never worn outside of bedtime – feel my wet hair as I drift to sleep. There are no lights in our bathroom, but it’s a small inconvenience compared to actually having a bathroom. I prop my phone, which may not have access to the Internet but does have a flashlight, on a window seal to create enough light to distinguish shampoo from conditioner.

The solo creates a spot light and outlines my body on a concrete wall. There is no French or English, just the language of my body. It moves with elegance and grace, a type of beauty I never noticed in myself back in the States. It talks to me in a calming tone and gives me confidence for new day. I shut off the stream, feeling restored, stunning and ready for another day of challenges just so I can wash them away again.

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One thought on “My shadow

  1. Beautiful, descriptive writing in a harsh setting. I am so eager to get to Niger and experience it my self.
    My husband and I just came home from learning to construct a rocking water pump to assist with getting water from wells more easily. He hopes in the Agriculture/forestry program, to teach others to do this so they , too, can have a cool shower or water for crops,etc. I am learning how to show others to build a simple low volume hand washing device so that even children can feel clean hands occasionally. All of this is through the interest of the founder and an inventor at the Full Belly Project in Wilmington, NC. Check out his website. Hopefully, when we get to Niger in Oct. , you can try out one of these inventions using cool water. Judy

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