Thursday, July 19, 2007

taking stock

The skin of my stomach feels stretched, expanded, constrained within the waistline of my jeans. Filled with meat samosas. Six of them washed down with red wine and Krest. I’m sitting on my taco bed at MUBS, and I pulled back the blue, chemical-doused mosquito net (my saviour) so I could sit on the edge instead of inside the misty blue room. The dormitory is generally filled with evidence of weariness. Mold blossoms fill the corner of the wall and ceiling on one side, their gray-white-green edges peeling back the paint above the water-stain-darkened tackboard. Remnants of last term are on the walls – Akena for MUBS guild, with a corner ripped off. Smells Fresh. Go Getters. Malaria consortium. A lone, misshapen wire hanger with blue plastic coating hangs from a nail in the wood trim above the tackboard. Holes in the screen over the window. Mosquitoes seem to pour forth from that opening, they buzzed in my ears all night before the blue net. The pack that weighed the same as a very fat 8-year-old on the way here now hangs slack and awkward from a nail on the closet door. The old wooden table against the wall in our room is overflowing with random pieces of travel flair – Cutter mosquito repellent – orange lid. Green candle from Chico’s meant to make the room smell like home. Rite Aid tissue pack, used tissues crumpled up and strewn about. An open back of makeup, mascara protruding. My barely used green leather travel journal – have I really started traveling yet? Toothpaste – green and sparkled herbal mint. Makeshift stack of GYPA business cards rubber-banded together. White three-ring binder filled with student passport and personal information. An old copy of the Daily Monitor. Q-tips in a blue plastic case. A hair brush. Pieces of leftover African fabric – fish, abstract palms in red and black. The Trouble with Africa open to page 137 on my bed – about Discord in Central Africa. Never to be read again. Gatorade powder. A mini-brochure about gorilla-tracking. Remnants. I’ll pack tomorrow morning and then on to the next stage. There’s one bare tube fluorescent light on the ceiling, and pretty much every night at varying times the power goes out, sometimes for five minutes, and sometimes until morning. If it happens when we’re still awake, everyone lets out a collective sigh. You can hear headlamps clicking, book pages turning, soft laughter. Generators kick on and sound like the rumble of thunder.

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