Monday, May 5, 2008

Lightning Bug, Ani, Voicebox, Heavy Pack, Stars

Last night there was a bug thrashing on the bedroom floor, apparently dying. I didn't know what kind of insect it was but I stepped on it with my sandal. Suddenly it began shining light and I realized it was a lightning bug, and then I felt bad about stepping on it, as if it were somehow a beacon or a lamp and I were a dark giant.

Ani came by today to get her pay for last week. We won't be needing her services for now, so I gave her a month's severance pay. I could see she'd been crying, whether because she is out of a job or because she misses Salma, I don't know. Perhaps both. She has been Salma's part-time parent since Salma was six months old. I told her that Salma loves her, and that she (Ani) will always be a member of the family, and that when Salma returns I will call her to come back to work.

I decided this evening to go for a walk. I enjoy listening to my iPod as I walk. When I picked up the iPod from the kitchen counter the cord was tangled up with some small plastic box, and the little box suddenly began emitting a loud crying sound. I stared at it in alarm and confusion before I realized that it was the "voicebox" for Salma's doll. She has a doll that used to "cry" when you squeeze it, but for some reason we had removed the voicebox and here it was. The noise was startlingly loud in the large, silent kitchen.

That got me thinking about Salma and how much I miss her. It's very hard, but I know that my bond with her is strong enough to weather this absence.

Just for fun, I decided to put a couple of dumbbells in a backpack and wear that on my walk, to make it tougher. I wrapped two 30 lb dumbbells in a towel and stuffed them in the backpack, then set off on my walk, listening to a novel called "The Traveler" on the iPod. The pain in my shoulders and the hammering of my heart quickly reduced the length of my planned walk from a long circuit around town to a few blocks, and then just around the one block.

A few local dogs befriended me and walked with me, every now and then nuzzling my hands to be petted. One was a large black puppy, and the other was a fat old dog with a limp. They followed me all the way home. By the time I returned home the weight of the shoulder straps had cut off the circulation to my arms and my hands were tingling. Elapsed time: 20 minutes. I don't know how they do it in the army. Don't they have to run 10 miles wearing 100 lb packs, or some crazy thing?

There's no moon tonight and the stars are incredibly bright. The sky is packed with them, stacked on top of each other like apples at the market. SubhanAllah. This is a beautiful place, beautiful people, in the crater of a volcano nestled beneath the stars.

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