17-02-2021 by Laura G.
Today it is exactly one year since I left "my" Africa.
I did not write "my" because I feel like Maryl Streep, lost in another time and another life, but because I know well that Kenya, which I have been living for many years at least twice a year, cannot represent the real Africa, but neither the whole country.
But "my" Africa exists and not being able to live it for a year and who knows for how much longer, has saddened me, aged me, destroyed me.
I know that somehow I could have come back, but without criticising the choices of others, I am one of those who stick to the rules.
This time last year, I was sprawled out on a white beach enjoying the healthy life I'm used to every winter, for two months after the Christmas holidays spent strictly with relatives. Coconut water, an hour in the salt water of the ocean and lots of fruit: my number one cure for the stress accumulated earlier. Days of sports, a few hours helping and caring for the less fortunate (and how can you in Kenya not look at these things and act accordingly?) and minding my own business.
Like every year, I was convinced to leave for Italy in mid-March, but the beginning of the emergency and the fear that my mother could be left alone and without assistance convinced me to anticipate the return.
It's a pity, because as always I had a new safari in mind for the beginning of March. Enchanted by the Maasai Mara visited in September the year before, I had decided to go back.
I thought "anyway in a few months this thing ends, Kenya we see each other again in August!".
Instead what happened was that the virus took away not only my brother, who was already ill, and an aunt, but also my escape route, my parallel world.
I am an orphan of Africa and in these months I have understood even more that I cannot do without it and that I could hardly replace it with something that is not so real, so true, tangible.
Every day I follow people who live in Malindi, in Watamu, who go around the parks and beautiful places and put photos and videos on social networks. It is not enough for me, even if complaining has never been my way of reacting.
So in the days of despondency I started to learn Swahili.
I bought a grammar book online, took a virtual course and went back to studying like a little girl!
I didn't think I was so rusty...but after a month it had already become a habit, and sasa ninajua kiswahili kidogo! Now I know a bit of Swahili.
My friend from the vegetable stall at the market, Irene the masseuse and Alfred the house helper could not believe their ears. They were always used to having to learn a few words of Italian to improve our dialogue. Now I will surprise them with special effects.
And while I study and spell, learn and zoom in, my smile comes back because through words I seem to be closer to the things I love. Even though here today it is 2 degrees and the sky is grey, I still feel on the beach like a year ago, but this time I ask for coconut water in Swahili and the mzee with the basket gives me a discount of five shillings!
by Freddie del Curatolo
Imagine a space where sky does not dominate you, it runs through you;
where you don't breathe air, you taste it...