Children dance and play in the rain, their wet skin shining, even in the over-cast light. On a dry day, these same children would heckle me, shouting “Mr. Jammeh!” if they were my students in school or “toubab,” meaning “white man,” if they assumed I was a tourist. In these situations, a single wave, nod or response is not satisfactory, fore they will continue shouting “helloooooo,” “howaryoufine,” or “give me your minty” until you are out of ear shot. Sometimes I greet them in Fula, which surprises them enough to make them stop and sometimes even reply back politely. More often, though, I lower my head and quicken by pace, feeling both the relief of escaping them and the shame of being flustered by a band of small children. Today, thankfully, the children are more interested in the puddles.
I am the only one walking on the road. People look up as I pass by, but they do not hold the usual, long stare. They are more concerned about the rain and the wind and the rivers forming on the side of the road. The children laugh while the adults yell at them to come in, out of the rain. I, for once, am not the center of attention. My rain cover is keeping the books and clothes in my backpack dry, and my warm hut awaits me further ahead in the village. Closing my eyes, I tilt my head back to feel the rain dance across my face. I don’t have a single care in the world.