Sunday, May 21, 2006

Jos, Sunday, 9:45pm

Will wonders never cease? I think I am getting away from the internet, and it turns out my parents pick up a wireless connection from UniJos. I'm blown over. What a fabulous development!

Currently sitting in the arm chair in my brother's old room, computer in lap. Closing my eyes, I can hear a steady rhythm of cicadas, the fan whirring overhead, dogs barking, and in the distance the faint song of a muezzin.

Mom, Dad, and Tass out to eat with other graduates and parents. Siblings not invited... So Laura is hanging out on the bed with another laptop and the internet. I really can't get over this internet access! We didn't even used to have a phone. And now wireless everything. phone, internet. Kai, na yi mamaki sosai! Amma ina jin dad'i. Ko da yake bana so OBJ ya dawo third tirm, mutumin d'in ya yi kokari! Amma yanzu, ban iya in tsaya internet obsession nawa!

So, it's good to be back. Tassneem has become amazingly beautiful. Later I'll post a photo or two if it doesn't take too long on this connection. I'm so glad to be here for her graduation.

Feels like I haven't been gone. This time I experienced no transition-eyes. No brief double take. It was as if I'd only left for a month, and I guess it really hasn't been an entire year since I left last August. Abuja was beautiful, clean, impressive. Tree lined. There's a great new road from Abuja to Jos that made it a less than 3 hour trip this morning (after spending the night in Abuja and getting up only twice--once at midnight, thinking it was time to leave and confused as to why the clock said 12:00--maybe it was recording the number of hours I slept! And then at 5:30am, when I was confused by the clock again--we left around 6:50am). This is my favourite time of the year. Early rainy season when the soft new grass first covers the ground, fields stretching green to misty hills, blue against a silver sky. And small wispy clouds floating in the air not far above the trees.

It's good to speak Hausa again, casually, with people who speak it all the time. Learning a language is like tuning a radio (Did I read that somewhere)? When I was young, the Hausa flowed over my head--all part of the background. I'd tune it out. Now, when I hear people laughing and talking outside the window, I catch it. It's usually something banal... but I tune it in... I hear it. It's exhilerating, really.

Let me say also, how impressed with and grateful I was to customs. I spoke in Hausa to the two (nice and friendly) men at the window. They asked how long I was staying, and I told them until August 25. So, they told me they'd give me a month and I could renew in Kano. (Same thing happened last year, but was a bit more complicated when I tried to renew from Sokoto) But when I told them that I'd be travelling to Niger at the end of July and that it would be so much easier if I could get the 3 month visa and just renew at the border rather than having to do it several times, they took me over to the Oga, who asked me a couple of questions and then gave me a stamp until August 26, which is a week past the official three months--which means that if Niger doesn't work out, then I still have a legal visa to the end of my time here. They had no official reason to give it to me--I've been told in the past that 3 months is the max for a visitor's visa--just the goodness of their hearts. I was so happy. So I burst into Hausa praises. Ina jin dad'i kwarai da gaske. Na gode kwarai. Allah ya ba da sa'a. To which they replied Amin, Amin. And we were all smiling and happy. It was a good welcome.

So, I wrote a lot on the plane from Port Harcourt to Abuja--observations of some children coming "home" with their parents for the first time and memories from our first trip into the country. But it's long. Not sure if I should post it or not. For now, I'll leave it at this.

So, I'm here. It's good to be back. All is well and good and as it should be.

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