"Girls and Women"
I might not do much in these past couple months of my service, but if I do anything, it will be on my long walks to and from the office every day, walking with young girls knocking off and going to school throughout the day. They might not remember what I’ve done for work, but I at least will have crammed their young impressionable and tender minds with my strange, liberal thoughts of gender equality and self progression. I find myself saying these same strange things over and over:
Topic Numero Uno: The troubling eternity that is hopelessly inescapable village life and its relation to education.
“Usamatamangire chikwokwati, anyamata, chiyani chiyani. Pitirizani ku school, Khalani serious. Ukamaliza, udzadziwa moyo wa bwino kwambiri. Sudzadandaula za zokudya pafupifupi, sudzatunga madzi tsiku ndi tsiku, kutaya nthawi ako kuyesesa kupeza nkuni. Zimenezo, eyai. Usamavitike choncho eyai. Ndimakufinira moyo wa bwino.”
“You shouldn’t be always running toward early marriage, and chasing boys, what what. Continue with school and be serious about it. After you finish, you can know a very good life. You won’t have to worry about food all the time, you won’t have to fetch water every day, or waste your time looking for firewood to cook on. These things, no. You shouldn’t be troubled like that, no. I want you to have a good life.”
Topic Numero Dos: Relationship/Marriage/Gender equality in terms of sexual and physical abuse (Of course addressing this topic is why I had to leave my old site, and why it is so important to me. I breach the topic often, but tread lightly.):
“Mudziwa chiyani? Kwathu, mamunayo, amakamenya asamayi, apolice, amamumangira, amapita ku jail mpaka zaka zambiri. Amakafuna kugona ndi akazi wake, ngati akazi safuna, ndi chimodzimodzi kuguirira. Amapitaso ku jail. Kathuwaso, anthu, amakalowa mu jail, samathuluka sanga ingati kuno. Kuno, amakalowa mu jail, mawa amathuluka. Amangosalamo umo nthawi ayithali kwambiri. Ifeyo, asamayi, tisamawope asibambo. Tikhale limodzi, kuchezana, kuguirizana, kugayirana, basi, osati kumenyana, eyai.”
“Do you know what? Where I’m from, men, after they beat a women, the police arrest them, they go to jail for many years. Even after they want to sleep with their wives, if the woman doesn’t want to, it is the same as rape. They go to jail for that too. Where I’m from after people go to jail, they don’t get out quickly. It’s different from here where when people go to jail for these things, they get out the next day. They just stay in there for a long time. We women, we shouldn’t be afraid of men. We should be together as one, chatting, agreeing, sharing, that’s all, not fighting each other.”
Note: The most devastating part of this conversation (which, believe you me I have every week, minimum) is that women are always SHOCKED to find out that in America, men go to jail for raping and beating their wives, and not only do they go to jail, they stay in there to rot until we decide they’re decent enough for society again. When I say shocked, I mean open mouth, jaw dropped shocked. The response is immediately, “that would never work here” or “do you hear what she’s saying? “ like every single women is being beat and raped by her husband (which is common here I know for a fact. If I had a nickel for every time I heard a man say, “it’s her duty to satisfy me, she can’t refuse, she’s my wife,” I would be sickened by how rich I would be) and the thought that someone doesn’t have to live like that is shocking to them. It breaks my heart every time.
I’m sure these girls get sick of my lectures but they like talking to the crazy white girl so they have to listen to them. As far as I’m concerned, one day, even if its way in the future one of them will listen to me.; On that day, but not before that, my entire two years of service to this country will be justified and I will feel, in my soul, through an internal, intercontinental, sisterly bond, that I did something worthwhile, and I will smile and be proud. I feel for these girls who will grow up to be troubled, trapped, abused, un-liberated.
In other news, I can tell it’s time to move along, away from Malawi as the following songs are popping up more and more frequently on my playlists by no intention of my own (much like before I came to Malawi):
“So Long, It’s Been Good to Know You” –Woody Guthrie
“Gotta Travel On” –Au Go-Go Singers
“Hard Road to Travel” –Jimmy Cliff
“Midnight Rider” –The Allman Brother’s Band
“Wagon Wheel” –Old Crow Medicine Show
That kind of thing. Oh subconscious, you are what you are and you know its time.
Bad news. Yesterday, I accidentally deleted all the music off of my ipod. 7000 songs! 30GB! All gone! Ironically enough, I was trying to back them up on my hard drive but before I did that I decided to delete a playlist. Due to the computer being slow, I just closed the program, only to find later that there was nothing on my iPod. I’m upset about it but trying not to lose my cool. I keep reminding myself that it’s all backed up at home. Thanks goodness! At least I have space for all that Malawian music I like, now...
Yesterday, to distract myself from flipping out over the one thing that has been keeping me relatively sane, I made mango wine. Two weeks until its ready. Something about squishing the life out of each mango and then throwing the pit at the goats that wake me up every morning baaaaahhhhhing, made me feel better.
In other other news: How about that super bowl game? How about that halftime show? Huh? Huh?