Thursday, July 23, 2009


Darkness has devoured my bedroom. Only the slightly lighter outside world breaks the black wallpaper of the night - the outside witnessed through a small turned over "P" shaped window in the wall. Little light drifts in; however, much heat escapes. Even with bits of plaster the red brick walls cannot contain heat, the night is dark and cold. In the distance is the murmur of some dogs arguing over a scrap of food - or so I imagine. Perhaps they are laughing or discussing, or perhaps just barking. Awwwoooouuuooo.

Movement that is not my own. Within the ward of my mosquito net, the veil that is to protect from malaria, I feel four feet wandering over my body. My legs become road bumps and hills for the scavengers of the night - rodents of some species or another. Tiny foot steps are nearly silent on the soft shapes of my legs, which are padded with a sleeping bag and a blanket. The only source of warmth comes from within - thick clothes, blankets, and sleeping bags all aid in stopping it from abandoning me to lie in the cold of the evening or early morning. My night time companion, the mouse, runs circles around the room. Its toes click over the the dirt floor and scrape over the floor covered with some sort of plastic.

Occasional voices murmur in Bemba; words barely obscured by brick thick yet paper thin walls. Yelling in the distance - someone screams. In the room beside the sound of coughing and shifting is audible - someone rises to use the urinal. The urinal is a carton with the top sawed off.

Sleep is broken up into little segments - a few hours here and there if the night is a lucky one, otherwise forty five to fifty minute portions will make do. The in between is a struggle to find my cell phone - not to call but to see what time it is. The colorless digital clock... When it strikes 5:00 it is time to wake up, but I am usually up and dressed and then back in bed waiting for 5:00 well before 5:00 arrives. Sometimes I wonder if the clock is used to Zambian time - if a meeting is called at ten then usually it wont start till twelve - if I want the clock to read five, it usually reads three.

The mouse runs around within my bed - what does it desire? Food? Warmth? Shelter? An escape from the outside world of predatory animals? I feel something brush past my hair - is it my imagination or is it a rodent?

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