Saturday, 17 February 2018

Build Me Up, Buttercup

This post is dedicated to the man who has been my unexpected roommate for a year and half without killing me or finding himself pushed off the fourth floor balcony he’d so wanted. 

He is, quite obviously, mad as a bag of frogs, and quotes William Carlos Williams’ poems when stealing my toilet paper:

Forgive me,
It was so papery.

“D’ya get it?!  Do ya, do ya, do ya?  I mean, do ya get it??”

“You mean you imitating a horrible poet?  You mean that was intentional?  You read poetry?  You read?”

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Uphill Both Ways

One small positive in dating a local (other than having a souvenir) is that he unwittingly shares common cultural practices and colloquialisms for me to dissect.

Like the harvest song that the beneficiaries of his project sang to work late one evening – about striking the ground as though each blow was killing someone from a neighbouring tribe.  Most of my colleagues are from this tribe, and I’d heard stories of how, during one of the many wars that have plagued this nation, they had created artificial borders in order to catch (no release that hunting season) those not from their tribe by checking the pronunciation of a certain greeting.  At that time, I’d decided that this tribe was quite obviously stark, raving mad. 

Now I see that their foray into early immigration policies was possibly justified. 

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Bliss – Part II

Thankfully, I had some time away from Congo to reflect on my impending final departure when our team visited Uganda for a week-long peacebuilding conference. 

I cannot adequately explain the magnitude of this gathering – if the leaders present live with a portion of the faith they professed in the time we shared together, the Great Lakes region cannot help but change.  I have, however, been burned in the past by people who say one thing in a spiritual setting, but prefer to speak ‘practically’ at other times.  To me, faith is practice.  Only faith can allow a mother, when lobbying for the return of a group of children from the Lord’s Resistance Army, to refuse the return of her daughter because it meant that other parents like her would have to continue to suffer.  Only faith would encourage a leader in a Kenyan university to return to Congo (with his wife – also now a PhD-holder – and their children) to begin a Christian university in an area wheremass killings are routine

The milk of human kindness sours quickly – it offers aid as long as there is no personal cost.

Love suffers, weeps, and dies personally to give life to others. 

Bliss – Part I

I’ll try to make this as concise as I can – partially because I’m weeks behind, but mostly because I’ve forgotten nearly everything.

Christmas break was a wonderful affair, beginning with a ground-shaking concert at our church, led by our incredibly talented band - which includes Joseph.  As usual, we had a late start; as I was silently kicking myself and Timbit for having arrived on time, our worship leader appeared beside my chair to wish me a merry Christmas and smile and not go away. 

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Loving the Players

The landlord’s housemaids are gradually becoming more loving.  And thus more terrifying.  I try to creep up the four flights of stairs to our apartment without breathing, but am inevitably caught by my name screamed in varying tones of ecstasy, depending on what I’m wearing, if my hair is down, or if I’m carrying groceries.

The most recent order of business is English (though I’ve also been graciously offered the chance to do primary school maths and technology homework); one day the youngest maid asked me in careful English what my name was.

First of all, they have never really understood my name (like half the population here) and offer me vague semblances to which I deign to respond because the alternative is to... talk to them.  Furthermore, I generally dislike my name, but in French, it is unutterably worse – the harsh ‘r’ forever sounds as if people are angry with me. 

“I didn’t do it, I swear!  Please don’t write an Incident Report!”