Like clock work, the not so small anymore, whimper to the right side of my bed tells me that I have approximately 10 seconds to untie myself from what ever strange dream I’m in and acknowledge my dog, Koinonia. I know the results of ignoring this, about 20 min mending my net before bed. I swing my feet over to the side and force the net free from under my bedding. The first 15 steps to the light switch are made by hobbling painfully on my heals and out side edges of my feet. Consequences of a combination concrete flooring/village hikes with many stones. Bart screams when I bump into him still sleeping under the light switch. I know it only startled him, but I apologise anyway. Hobbling down the hallway to the kitchen door, opening it a moment to late, the dogs racing out to chase the imaginary whatever-it-was monster out of the yard. “Yeah get em!” I always encourage this kind of behavior… I am after all a single woman living in Malawi, my dogs are not just for cuddling.
I make my way to the bathroom and start the tap in the shower filling up a small basin for bathing. I go back to my room and turn in my most used appliance, a water pitcher that boils the water! It’s a life saver, unfortunately it won’t keep me from needing to start the charcoal. Back to the kitchen… I have a sweet cardboard technique for starting charcoal, but you still have to burn a bit of plastic bag to make a fire burn long enough to catch the coal. I get the fire going and add another pot of water on top. Back into my room with a cup full of instant coffee mix. I put my net up, make my bed, sweep and add the now boiling water to my coffee. I dump the rest of the streaming water in the bath. I put my net up and I walk outside to see the glory of the sunrise. Heading back in with refilled pitcher, I dump the hot water from the coals into the bath and shout out, “Mawana!” (Baby). I replace the pitcher for one more boil and fill another pot of water for the charcoal. “Hot bafa!” (Bath) Few more moments and the pitcher clicks off, hot. I make another trip to the bath and shout a third time opening up Gifts door and singing some melody stuck in my head. I tickle her feet and finally shout, “Bafa! Tien!” (Bath! Let’s go!) She giggles and slides out of bed. I make mazela and imponga (eggs and rice) while Gift finishes getting her gray, school uniform on. She slaps her hands together the moment right before she sees my mouth begin to say let’s pray. She eats a massive plate of food while I make her lunch, 2 peanut butter sandwiches hopefully finding some treat to put with it. After breakfast we silently leave the kitchen and head for the living room. There is a game called bowbow set up on the table, still showing the whopping from the night before. We sit in the same spots and both laugh as she relentlessly beats me over and over again.
“Ode!” (I’m here!) Comes from the back door. It’s my neighbor, Arinaphie. She is the same age as Gift and comes every morning to walk to school. I look over Gift. I straighten her collar and take the coloring book out of her backpack.
I open my arms and she jumps in. Her eyes close and her arms wrap around my waste to play with my hair while I pray over her. “Lord, God. Be with this sweet girl. Guide her. Make her wise. Watch her studies and the people around her. Bless her day in an awesome way, so tonight when she lays down to sleep, she knows your good and for her”
I kiss her forehead and she giggles and skips out of the door. I divide the leftover breakfast between the dogs before starting my own bath. My crew will be at my door by 7:30 to start the day. I take a few moments to reflect on my life and how blessed and strange it is. I bust out laughing at the oddness of my life. I keep giggling through my bible studying and while I pick up the rest of the house, from whatever damage the dogs caused the night before.
And I laugh the rest of the day. Because I don’t have any fear of my days to come. I laugh because I’m free. I laugh, because just like Gift and the bowbow game… I know I already won.