I was listening to Alabama 3 sing, ‘Ain’t Goin to Goa’ which I think is appropo because I am not - going to Goa, that is. I am going to Jinja and I have not slept for 36 hours. Sleep deprivation plays with my mind in strange ways. It is as if memory has taken all of my memories out of a file cabinet and strewn them all over the floor of my mind. I have been to Goa, several years ago, and I remember standing out on the edge of the Indian peninsula with my feet in the sea looking at all the millions of bright stars. Jinja also sits on the edge of somewhere, of Lake Victoria, and the source of the White Nile that runs right up into Sudan.
Everything on the road to Jinja reminds me of something else. Kampala reminds me of Pristina. The Ugandan countryside reminds me of Thailand. The smell of the forests along the road reminds me of Indonesia. The rolling hills reminds me of driving in Missouri with my brother listening to Snow Patrol’s ‘Chasing Cars’.
‘Let’s waste time…I don’t quite know how to say how I feel…
I don’t know where, confused about how as well,
just know that these things will never change for us at all.
If I lay here. If I just lay here would you lie with me and just forget the world?’
Memories keep flooding in that I have no mental energy to sort or control. Eucalyptus trees remind me of the Californian Santa Ana winds, the roadside stalls of Zambia, the traffic of Calcutta, the smell of a hospital all the many, many institutions in Ukraine, and the wet, hot air of nights in Hong Kong, and the worn blue vinyl upholstery of driving from Chicago to Kalamazoo listening to Emmy Lou Harris,
‘Our path is worn our feet are poorly shod
We lift up our prayer against the odds
And fear the silence is the voice of God
And we cry Allelujah Allelujah
We cry Allelujah’
The strange thing is that I did not think of Darfur – not once. It was as if, in leaving it behind, memory – that eccentric librarian - tossed all these other memories out so it could lock Darfur tidily away. And I am glad for that because I don’t want to think about it. I am tired of thinking about the place. I want to think about something else and so I do with my eyes closed in the backseat of the two hour taxi ride with the wind brushing over me. I hope that sometime, maybe years from now, after it is over, I will be able to take out that file and sort through the experiences, sounds, and pictures and feel something other than hopelessness and sorrow.