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  • Lorraine Johnson

[15] The Croon Of An Ordinary Day

It was turning to dusk on a long winding, rugged footpath—one with deep crevices lining its back and tall, dense vegetation caressing its edge—when I found myself, face down with my right ankle curled under the back tire of my motorcycle and gas slowly seeping from the seal of the cap. With bridges washed out from weeks of torrential rains, I finally did venture—taking the long way, on more well kept and trodden roads, to a small Indian merchant to buy a bare essential—hours away.

My young friend Gbaligidia—a student studying in the village of Glofarken, his home several hours walk away, lived with me in my earthen home—would meet me at the three-logged bridge that had finally given way to downpours.

With goods and months-old mail strapped on with the rubber from old bicycle tires, I slowly made my way, leaving the merchant miles behind. It was a long, remote path. The light of the rain forest began to dim when my tire gripped a crevice and wobbled, along with me, with a thud, to our landing place.

With face in dirt and bike on back, condemned in my mind to driver ants and cobra snakes, dusk started to turn. I shouted out in vain to Gbaligidia. Wasn't I almost there? But my voice too lost and the distance too long. From deep within I heaved my arms upward with all my strength, left unmoved, I took a breath. I spoke to the universe and visioned more strength, and with all my might heaved my arms up yet again. My back tire raised, ever so slightly, I released my foot and breathed onto my back.

Pain entered as my foot swelled into the worn lines of my forbidden soldier's boots—bought in a sting just months before in the capital of this resilient west African nation, with my mother's voice gently, but persistently, in my head, 'don't forget the boots!'

With trembling body from an impossible lift, my mind prepared. Lift the bike. Gather the goods. Tie them back on. Get on the bike. And push that starter with swelling foot, with all your might! And so I did, with gritting teeth, as the sound of nothing filled the air. Flooded it was, I can wait. Wait. It would settle, I thought, and I can try again.

The next moment brought the hum of a miracle, as this small motor poised once again to carry my now weary me and burning foot to the edge of the once fallen bridge. And in the distance, from my trembling eyes, I saw Gbaligidia moving toward me, with the aged silhouettes of his parents behind. They reached out their arms, led me to their earthen stoop and sat me down. They presented a large sack filled with the smell of ripe oranges, tied and ready for market. They held out the oranges, one by one, and the sweet juice entered and my body returned—and my courage appeared.

And in this extreme south-west land of Harper county, in the land of the Grebo people, and endless rains and bountiful crops—in the land of new friends—my heart beamed, to share this place in time, along the croon of an ordinary day.


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