It’s the wet season here, which means you can count on rain every night and often once or twice in the afternoons. As I write, I sit with Alex and Kaukisa on the porch while rain falls heavily outside. The latter works on a flashlight he is building with nothing more than a bulb, some tape, two wires, a sheet of paper, and five batteries.
(Just before I left, Kaukisa gave it to me as a gift. It’s definitely the best flashlight I own.)
Heavy with water, a branch on the nearest tree drops a mango, and all three of us look up. Kaukisa smiles – “Mi bai kisim,” he says, but before he’s turned back to his flashlight, an old lady (his grandmother, in fact, who lives next door) scurries out in the rain to retrieve it. She picks it up, turns it around, and nods her head in approval before walking back indoors. Kaukisa sighs.
Soon, the rain will stop. A crowd will gather around a fire here or somewhere else nearby, and I will join them. They’ll ask me questions about the cars in America, or Barack Obama, or Higgins the dog, or another one of their favorite subjects. And in broken Tok Pisin, I’ll answer them all – until night comes, more pots of boiling bananas and kumu appear, and dinner is served.
Afterwards, Ezikiel will discuss the plans for tomorrow (temporary, as always), and the group will stori again to the sound of Namis gently snoring.
Nine o’clock comes earlier than I expect most days, but they all know this is when I sleep. When it does come, I quietly dismiss myself, crawl back inside my mosquito net, and promptly fall asleep.