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Saturday, January 1, 2011


Rain at school.
Rain in my training village.

Rain in my training village.

The rain falls heavily, pummelling the tarmac beneath my feet. A thin sheath of water has formed on the road, as if it was all wrapped in clear plastic. Drops dance around as they join the layer of water on the road. Water flows off the tarmac in thick torrents, cutting long gutters in the red mud that the tarmac sits upon. The drops fall so straight that I scarcely need to squint my eyes. My clothes are soaked through and my long pants stick to my knees and thighs as I walk. All around me people run for shelter; women holding colourful arrays of cloth over their heads, men running hunched over as if they are avoiding gun fire. In the past, rain caused the same level of panic in me; I would run home in order to prevent my clothes and backpack from getting soaked, pull my laundry off the line outside, bring my bike in before the chain got wet. Now, however, I have learned to carry a rain cover for my backpack, to hang my laundry inside, and to keep my bike in a corner of my hut with the chain well oiled.

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.

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