Monday, January 26, 2009

Knowing the System

Adam and I still are recoiling from Akuma’s death -- thankfully, we’ve had one another to talk to about it, and while we still feel somehow guilty and responsible, we also know that there really isn’t anything else we could have done.

Still, the house feels funny without him, and just walking by random things -- chairs, towels -- reminds us that he’s missing.

What does one even talk about in times of grief anyway? Too shocked and upset to play games, or read, or go for a walk, and unable to bring ourselves to talk about our loss, or grief, or guilt, we spent several hours in oppressive silence... not knowing what to say, or what to do, the only resonating sounds those of the situation’s finality.

Papa B, our government friend, came by in the morning and was shocked to see our faces - streaming with tears, red-eyed, clutching one another for comfort on the back stoop -- and we showed him Akuma’s grave site.

He expressed his condolences, but, in typical Congolese fashion, asked us first if we would be equally sad were he to die, and secondly informed us that it was “against Congolese law to bury animals.”

“Good thing, ” said I, “that no one knows we buried him.”

Papa B looked at me somewhat strangely...

“Yes, ” I said, “how fortunate for us that you don’t know anything about animals here being buried.”

“Yes,” he repeated, almost mechanically, “I know nothing.”

And with that, the situation was over.

I did the same at the market today, when a man with a whistle came up to us while we waited for a friend and said “I am the police of the market, and don’t you remember that you promised me a gift!!”

“I promised you nothing,” I replied, “but I am friends with the real police, and I bet they can give you some GREAT gifts!”

Sometimes, it’s just about knowing the right people, I guess.

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