Bob Marley was right, you can’t run away from yourself and I have wasted enough time trying to achieve the impossible.
I should tell him that peace is not there for the finding in a place, it dwells on the inside. Or it doesn’t. The truth is that there was a time when I would have stayed, not to be with him, but just to pass the time until I got bored and decided to travel again to somewhere else far away. Always catching planes, running from one flight to another. I was afraid to stay still.
Saint Louis, Senegal, 06:16, le 31 decembre, 1998
His arms are wrapped around my waist, holding me tightly. He kind of hums in his sleep, dolphin sounds, as if he’s swimming underwater in his dreams. His shallow breathing combines with the sound of the pounding waves outside and tickles the back of my neck. I shiver. I don’t want to wake him but I must leave now. I have to get ready to go to the airport but I suppose there’s still plenty of time till my flight tonight. For some reason, my brain feels like it’s drowning, gasping for air. I am lying here in bed thinking about how I am a 25-year-old adult who has never worked a single day in my whole, entire life. It’s just hitting me now. Must be all the Karl Marx I’ve been reading. BJ’s mom says an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. My stomach’s cramping. It’s anxiety, it always does that. I want to smoke but my cigarettes are finished. I need to go outside right now so I try and unclasp his arms but in the habit of lovers, he is refusing, entangling his warm limbs through mine, loving me to the bed, asking me reproachfully, disbelievingly, “Don’t you believe in djinns?”
I still myself for a few minutes and wait for him to fall back asleep again. His fingers unconsciously play with the string of djali djali beads around my waist. They still smell of spicy churai scent. Slowly, his hands come to rest and his breathing evens out. Then I gently extricate myself.
Along the rim dividing daybreak and night’s end, I step out onto the cool sand, stark naked. Soon the scorching sun will raise its temperature to unbearable heights but now it’s unbearably perfect.
The first swirls of pinkish light are starting to fuzz the horizon out of its sharp definition between earth and sky. Dawn and dusk, my favorite times of day. Huddled shapes are looming in the early morning mist, scaring me, even though I don’t believe in djinns. I take my plastic bag with me and go in search of clean water. There is no running water here but I find a drum with fresh water in the kitchen made up of four poles with a thatched roof. There are no walls and so I have a 360-degree view of the sea on one side, the river on the other, the sandy beach and the wind-bent palm trees. The sun is rising higher revealing the shapes to be mere huts placed at random on our peninsula. This is a rustic hotel of sorts for urbanized, Western tourists looking for a piece of paradise for a few days, a place to live with the elements and pretend they are simple native fishermen surviving off the bounty of the waters, but it is not the season. Or at least that’s what he said, maybe it has just become unfashionable of late. He is the caretaker/manager and he lives here year round.
We are alone here. Me and him. Him and me. He thinks we are together.