The first house I pass on my way to school or the taxi stop is a concession of two small rondavals, a brick house and another made out of pieces of aluminum. I can’t tell how many adults live there because the number seems to change but there is always a group of kids hanging around.
They are often playing a game etched in the dirt or using an assortment of garbage – buckets, plastic bags, pieces of long wire – to keep them entertained as bright, shiny toys would.
The kids are desperate to interact with me. I am funny looking and I do funny things. They want to be my friend, but we share little in common as far as language goes. They smile, say my name and offer the only English phrase they know: I love you.
That is what I hear every day in tiny voices. I love you. As much as I wish I could speak to them more and have full conversations, I will take this. If all I get is “I love you,” then it’s all I really need.