WH Chronicle No. 2.2.13

Feb 2, 2013

“Blow, blow, thou winter wind 
Thou art not so unkind 
As man's ingratitude;” 

Punxsutawney Phil quotes this Shakespeare sonnet while dramatically pacing back and forth in his enclosure in the Punxsutawney Memorial Library.   Each year he annoys his wife, Phyllis, by preparing a literary moment for Gobbler’s Knob only to be thwarted by stage fright and the marmot paparazzi.  After 123 years, he yearns for more than just prognosticating the weather.   This year spring is coming!

2012 was a good year for Whaleherds.  We had the daily luxury of bathing in drinking water and sleeping in a dry place when it rains.  We celebrated the same yearly holidays in same ways.   Our family is doing better than most of human history and most of the world’s current population.  But we don’t often celebrate this simple fact. Damn that Diderot Effect.

The kids continue to suffer school, green vegetables, baths, and good manners—I haven’t broken the news that these ailments are terminal.  But despite their occasional odors, the kids are fun.  The only exception to this being when we have to separate them for mauling one another; which, in turn, angers them further by inhibiting their ability to play together.   I always feel vindicated after instigating punishment that inspires them to unite and conspire against me. 

Daryl has grown to be very verbal and in a constant state of negotiation.  This pleases my parents to no end.  I recall hearing … ‘poetic justice’…

Sam likes birds and rocks.  He is collecting the latter, though he has requested more of the former.

Tom is remodeling our newly purchased tenement housing.  Initially excited about all the moving and initiating a new project, we are now in the middle of those labor pains and find it best not to discuss details mid-contraction.  Still on the to-do list:  floors, walls, paint, bathroom, windows, shower, and bickering about which drawer to put the silverware. 

Kaghondi has adapted very well depriving us of ample Chronicle fodder.  Though, I learned about his homesickness while I was recently in Africa.  I brought home pictures and videos trying to alleviate the hurt, but experienced regret when I witnessed the bittersweet reflection in his eyes.   He loves his family, and we have the honor of enjoying his company at their expense.

As I mentioned, I returned to Tanzania.  I was very apprehensive about reuniting. 
Regardless of logical forces, tender wounds have the desire to protect themselves.
But it was wonderful; I worked, played, reunited and left with less pain.  Whenever I arrive home from Africa I always feel under-utilized, but yet overworked.  I search for the greater good in my efforts, yet they remain more hidden and harder to access in the states.  And like many Americans, I am always left wondering if my greater good is really the boss’s Z3 BMW. 

Currently, I am endeavoring to avoid any Post Africa Funk, even though I still can’t bring myself to wash the African dirt out of my jeans.  

Ok, for you busy, restless, only-read-the-table-of-contents types:  This is where I bid you “adieu”.    Happy Groundhog Day, hopefully, we’ll meet again before next year!

Now, for you all that are still reading—those curious types that always sit until the last credit rolls:  I have a little story for you. 

It’s a short story for those who love stories without apparent conflict (or plot), but then this story is not entirely encapsulated.  Maybe conflict is lurking in the shadows next to the parts I left out.

In August of 2011 my head and buttocks were taking an equal beating from the unrelenting and austere insides of a little minibus.  It was trying to traverse a 90 kilometer boulder field that is the road in southern Tanzania.  The only respite from this constant jostling was when the bus would stall out, which busses tend to do when missing their second gear.  Every time the bus stalled, 4 or 5 men would climb out of the packed little bus, push it over the boulders until the engine engaged, and run like fugitives to catch the bus as it lurched from 1st to 3rd gear again.  We clapped.  This exact scene is probably replicated hundreds of times all over Africa, but in this particular bus, on this particular day, from Kusulu to Kigoma, something sweet was about to transpire. 

The man who put me on this bus was one of my brilliant students from the University.    By this time we had spent together for over 100 hours of public transportation and our conversations often contained a thread of his desire for true love.   Prior to embarking on our adventure (my adventure, his security services) I learned about his proclivity to divine illumination.   Even a compliment on a well written paper would elicit the response, ‘Oh, Madam, It’s not me.”  This would frustrate my humanist viewpoint, but I would stop short of asking if GOD earned an A- or B+ on the paper.

Regardless of motivation, Banyanka stood quietly by my side to insure safety and comfort, even when my stomach was turning inside out.  I’m grateful for his company and indebted to his loyalty.  This is the kind heart of Banyanka—never ready to personally accept praise, and looking for love without guarantees.

Love behind the jicama?  My head continues to dent the roof of the bus.  The bumps are intolerable at the immense speeds of third gear.   Finally, we come to a resting place in a small village where all our windows fill up with fruit and vegetables.   The ladies in this region have waited eagerly to sell their produce.   I try to ask Banyanka about a vegetable I see, but he doesn’t hear because he’s buying cabbage from another window.

“It is good.  You will like it.  Try it,” said a tiny, sweet voice. 

Behind that voice was a beautiful smile.  I followed the instructions, if for no other reason to show my gratitude for her answer.   The vegetable was jicama, but my memory of its taste was forgotten to serve other indelible moments.

Sabina was enrolled in Law School and visiting her parents in Kigoma while on semester break.  And that is when I introduced them.   I requested that she and Banyanka trade contact information, allowing us to meet her later at the beach and for dinner.  

Several months later I was home in the states trying to make sense of my life when I received a phone call from Banyanka.  He was engaged to Sabina.   On December 29th, 2012 they were married.  I was extremely blessed to attend their wedding.  Banyanka was incredibly thankful, to which I could only respond,
“It’s not me.”

The End (temporarily).

“Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love.”  Albert Einstein

“My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
 My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.”  William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

 “If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular?  Anonymous

“Our native soil draws all of us, by I know not what sweetness, and never allows us to forget.” 
― OvidThe Poems of Exile: Tristia and the Black Sea Letters

 “Beware of the contamination of sudden wealth. The poor man may take his ease without thinking of appearances, but the rich man is always under a strain”. 
Denis Diderot
Suffering my freedoms,

PS.  Our Groundhog Day Video; featuring the work of our young producers/directors.

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