Just you and me now
by Evans Yonson
(Note: This piece is part of the Mondays in Africa series. I wrote this in September 2005, days I left my university residence hall in Madrid.)
madrid – i will be transferring my stuff slowly to my new home somewhere in the northern part of central madrid today. some of my dormmates are moving too. some are going back to their respective countries. some are staying for another year. no matter what the circumstances are, we’re all parting. leaving this cavernous edifice called africa. bringing with us memories of a year gone by.
it’s just you and me now. my silent and ever-loyal friend who for the past months have been my constant refuge of things, important and irrelevant. i talk to you everyday for the year. i told you about my difficulty in the language. but you said i should not worry for i will be here for one year. you were right. i have improved my spanish. you patiently listened to me. and i willingly and enthusiastically listened to you. although, i have not heard from you for the longest time now, i know you’re always there for me. silently listening. silently observing.
when i first came to africa, you vividly remember what i brought with me and what i wore that day. you still remember everything up to today. i hope to see you before i finally go.
everyday, i ate with you. eagerly watching me as i walk through the line for africa’s delight. i sat with you and enjoyed your company. i laughed out loud and there you were just watching me. i complained about the food sometimes and you just shrugged it off. we preferred fish over pork. i marvelled at how you put too much salt in your dish. and you, in turn, wondered why i don’t eat potatoes.
every monday, i saw you at the laundry room as i deliver my dirty clothes. and we saw each other again on friday, to claim our clean and ironed clothes. we danced to the music of carmen and luisa. we chatted about things about my country and yours. we exchanged views – sex, politics, music, art, almost anything under the sun and beyond the moon.
We talked and asked each others’ recent activities. and how you wish each other happy weekend every time we part. we went shopping together. and we even went to one rally fighting for the freedom of one distraught nation.
we took the bus going to school. we took the metro going to sol. and as we walk through dark street going home to africa from metropolitano, you told me how you prefer walking than taking the metro. much to my dismay. on saturday nights, we bid each other goodbye as we go on our separate dinners. on sunday mornings, we talked about what happened last night and where we spent the night dancing and drinking.
sometimes you got into my nerves that i shouted at you but you silently walked away. it took several weeks to finally get over that anger within me. sometimes we just talked about the others and even gave them codenames from don roboto to babe. from harry to cabron. from donatella to camilla. what names have we concocted.
we argued over matters about the class. and we argued about world rulers. and you reminded me that you know international law. while i reminded you that my name does not come with an apostrophe. how i hated you when all you did was talked about yourself. you never tried to ask me how i feel about those around me.
but where did you go? you left without a note. you left me here. you’re on the other side of the atlantic. you’re in the middle east now. you’re back in the sahara. you’re back in bulgaria. you’re in sao paolo. you’re in nepal.
but as i leave this home sweet home of ours, you will always be within me. the memories of you, i will carry wherever destiny will lead me. you may never be by side always, but you’ll always be within me. always…..