Children stare up at me wide eyed. I smile and wave at them. Their eyes sparkle as joy sweeps across their faces and they burst into a huge smile and wave enthusiastically. Some call out to me… Obruni!
A pair of boys, sitting in the dirt under the stall where you can buy street food, play. They spot during my walk at lunch and start waving and calling to me so that I see them. I stop, crouch down with a hand on one knee, wave and give them big smiles. As I walk past their cart, they lose sight of me behind the table cloth hanging down the front of the stall and I believe they think I am gone since the waving and giggling stops. Moments later, as my legs appear on the other side of the cloth they start calling to me again, laughing and waving. I turn, crouch down again and wave to them, They are so happy, two little boys playing in the dirt.
Continuing on my way, I meet a colleague who is out to buy some bananas for her lunch. I turn and walk with her, which of course means passing by the two little boys again, and this time I beat them to the greeting as I lean down and wave and smile at them. And then they see me. They are so very happy and wave enthusiastically still calling my name. My friend says, ” You know they are there.” “Yes, I have passed by here already and they greeted me.” We laugh together.
After work, I start on my way to catching the Tro Tro, and as I pass by a parked and most likely broken down vehicle on our lane, two children call to me….Obruni! I smile and wave and they return the smile and wave and wave and wave. I am well past them and they call to me again and I turn and wave. As I near the end of the road and start to turn, I hear the shouts again as the little boys call out to me for the final time knowing that I will soon be out of their site and so we exchange our final greeting of the day.
After a tiring Tro Tro ride back to the hotel, I turn onto the side street towards the hotel entrance, and wave at the children in the corner stall. These children greet my friends and I every time we return and they are there and so we always greet them. Today I pause as I wave and the oldest girl skips towards me. Not to be out done, the littlest one, still waddling in diapers and unable to speak English (as far as I can tell) runs over at full speed, which of course is waddling full speed. The mother in me checks both ways for traffic and we all know that there is little traffic on this side street so everyone is safe. I smile at the older girl and ask how she is today. She is good. “What is your name.” “My name is Giften.” “Nice to meet you Giften, my name is Maureen.” She smiles at me as I say hello to the little one, who is too young to talk to me but none-the-less intrigued with my presence. We all smile at each other for a moment until the little one scurries back to the market stall and Giften turns to continue her skipping along a dirt path that cuts through the rubble. And so I bid her a good day before continuing on my way.
Today, the children made my day. I wonder if this is how Mickey Mouse feels.