• Lorraine Johnson

[23] Filling My Soul

The red earth filled the miles, trodden by heavy loads, worn out tires, cracked feet, laughing souls, big hearts, and the rhythms of lives untold.


It was days, more like weeks, or months, since I passed along this long dusty road, lined by the green born from heavy rains.


And on this day, there I was—squeezed between two men in the front of a trusted, old truck—an elongated pick-up, adorned with a back tarp sheltering two benches for passengers carried and heavy market loads.


To my left, the driver—a man who knew every village passing, the perfect spot for roasted corn, or ripened fruit, or palm oiled rice.


And to my delight, on my right, sat a man, in a purple, polyester leisure suit,

on an ordinary day, on a rural road, in this unforgettable African nation,

nearly two decades past an era of American kitsch and disco balls.


The truck came to a stop and the village merchants appeared, a welcome sight at the roadside from the passing of hours and many tales. And the man in the purple, polyester leisure suit bought his ware. And I finally glanced, from the corner of my eye, as the truck took off down more bumpy miles, to see what roasted treat filled his desire. I noticed the hoof and then the fur and just had to ask—what was giving him such delight!


And then he spoke and I turned my head. I swallowed my thought and beamed with a smile. Where else could I see such a wonderful site, then from the seat of a culture, up close and real, shifting my view of a taboo, and filling my soul with another life told.