Closing Time

Saying goodbyes is not my strength. Today it was Aaron, a friend I had made on the daladala in town the day before leaving for Asia. He waited over three hours for me, sitting outside the reception office because he had ran out of credit and was unsure of where I stayed. With a pineapple in hand as a farewell gift, he looked healthier after his bout of malaria. I seem to always have no words at goodbyes, a point at which uncertainties abound. Relationships are so utterly complicated and burdened with external baggage. And things are further complicated by the fact that I’m here as an aspiring anthropologist. If anything, however, I believe my lack of words at farewells here stems from the indisputable fact that, in many ways, we really are worlds apart. And there I stand just staring at him – a Tanzanian, a husband, a father of three, a deacon – and I’m made still by a sudden sadness and insecurity. Saying goodbye to the pastor and his family at the village was a million times harder.

What am I leaving, and what for? To what kind of life am I running?

At the end of the day life continues as it would any other day, with or without me. At times I think I was just an oddity in a phase of someone’s life. Some random foreigner who had crash landed in town, only to leave a few months later.

No wait. At the end of the day, I am still a child. A person still in his growing pains wanting to form meaningful relationships, finding his way through the world (and, honestly, perhaps not quite ready for a professional position.)

***

At night, walking away from the ice cream store in the Indian sector of town, we witnessed a car theft right in front of our eyes. The black car raced off into the night, leaving a young Indian man running after it, screaming and shouting. Police men appear. Clusters of by-standers stare and talk. We continue further down the street, where a drunk, old Indian man walks warily towards me away from a colorful and loud wedding. He gets into a taxi. Five minutes later, we do the same.

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