Sunday, July 17, 2011


I had been laid up in bed most of the day recovering from my 4th bought of malaria. Now I lay in bed reading, when I realize there is a glow in the Friday evening sky. Propping myself up on one elbow I peer through the window. Distant thunder is sounding and a wind is whirring in the trees. I must go see.

In moments I am slipping on my Chaco sandals and heading out into the courtyard. Unmindful of my maroon pj pants, lime nursing t-shirt, and tousled bed hair, I stride toward the rear gate. I want to see.

When I step into the field I forget about my headache and tired legs. A massive black thundercloud has settled in the far horizon looking almost like a tornado several miles wide. The sun has set behind it giving the monstrous storm, fiery orange backlighting. A cold earth-scented wind blasts my face and stray raindrops splash my forehead and arms. Just then a multi-branched bolt of lightning crackles down the center of the cloud. I catch my breath and feel awe-struck. There are smaller storm clouds to both the right and left. All of them are flickering and flashing with lightning. No one else is in sight. I'm alone in the field, alone in my amazement. I simply stand there, watching, being blown by the wind.

I'm lost in my own thoughts when I suddenly sense, more than hear, the sound of padding little feet. I glance over my shoulder and see a little boy. I smile as I lightly grasp his outstretched hand. He shyly smiles back. Silently he joins me. In a very little voice he asks, first for my clothes, then for my shoes.

"They’re too big for you. Sorry," I answer back with amusement. Then, to get his mind onto other things I look up and say

"The sky is beautiful isn't it?"

He looks up. His solemn dark eyes seem to take it in all at once. "Oui" he murmurs in the same soft voice.

A bolt of lightning again rips through the dark storm cloud and I excitedly exclaim "Wow! Look!"

Slowly a grin creeps over his quiet features, as if he has discovered an excellent secret. He is the first one to see the next one. His little arms shoots out as he crows "There!"

I gasp with amazement. With eagerness he scans the sky for the slightest glimmer of nature’s fireworks. He points out one to the right as I point out one to the left. We both see a big one straight ahead. It’s so big I pretend to jump behind him in fright. He giggles. We are together in the field and together in our amazement. We simply stand there, watching, being blown by the wind.

After a while, I notice the increasing darkness. Turning to my lightning-watching buddy I simply say "I need to go back now."

"OK," he says. I shake his hand and turn to go. As I walk away he calls after me his name. I tell him mine.

"Tomorrow," he says with a smile.

"Tomorrow," I smile back, then walk home through the wind. Back at the house I crawl back into bed, richer than when I left.

Soft mattress or dirt floor, fresh fruits or bouille, a bucket spit-bath or a shower— living conditions mean very little now. People, smiles, relationships, words of encouragement or sympathy, shared experiences and laughter—these are the things that make me rich. Eternally rich.

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