Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Goma Dichotomy, Example #459

And so this morning Lake Kivu was still as sleep, smooth as obsidian, stretching out for miles and miles until the sudden rise of deep blue mountains stabbing up into the bleak white sky.

Already, I stare out over the lake with such nostalgia.  It will be hard to not live beside, alongside, amidst this immense beauty.  The cormorants diving deep towards the methane pooled in the lake basin.  The kingfishers beating their wings faster than the human eye can see.  The fish swimming dizzy circles beneath the black. 

And so last night we went out to dinner, some colleagues and me.  Depending on you, dear reader, and your generosity for hyperbole, depending on your leniency with the sliding scale to define a happenstance as a disaster, I may or may not refer to last night’s dinner as an unmitigated disaster.   

The food didn’t come.  Our blood-sugar levels crashed.  The food finally came.  The bill didn’t come.  We got pissed off.  The bill finally came and we paid it.  The change didn’t come.  We fought and yelled and groaned and smashed our heads into the wall.  The change came.  We walked outside in the rain.  There was our car; we climbed in.  We drove thirty, forty feet, exhausted, complaining, and suddenly everyone in the car with me strangled-gasped and half-screamed.

I look up: There’s a motorcycle with two men on it swerving towards, away from, towards, away from our car.  I whip around: There’s a woman lying prostrate on the ground, in the middle of the street.  Face forward again: The men on the motorcycle are grinning, the one riding bitch waving his arms, a sick gleeful dance.  Back to the woman: She is dragging her body up.  Dazed confused. 

We aren’t sure exactly what happened.  Our driver didn’t see the woman, he only saw the motorcycle, and did his best to steer away, get us away, as fast as possible.  My three colleagues saw the mugging/GBV, saw the woman grabbed and smashed into the concrete of the singular paved street in this whole city.  I saw the woman slowly stumble back up and stop, still, in the middle of the road, in the rain.  I saw the motorcyclists grin and I saw them dance.  The assholes.  The assholes. 

We drove away from her and we drove away from them.  We drove back to our razor-wired gate and our strong guards and our warm house beside the lake where our colleagues were watching an old episode of “So You Think You Can Dance” projected up onto our living room wall.  We curled up on our comfy red couches, joining them.  When we blinked, when we shut our eyes, we saw the woman still standing in the middle of the street, alone.  In the rain.  Where we left her.  We wished that our car had hit the motorcyclists.  Not really.  But kind of.  We don’t believe in an eye for an eye but the base vile depths of us wished that they’d been hurt.

Outside of our doors, the lake stretches calm and sweet.  The cormorants dive deep towards the methane pooled in the lake basin.  The kingfishers beat their wings faster than the human eye can see.  And we people here, we try to do what we can to live together peacefully beside them.  And we try.  And we do try.  And we try.


sparky said...

thanks for writing this, Rachel. I'd been wondering if stuff like this ever happened. You've made it sound so idyllic up until now.

Rachel said...

Thanks, Sparky... Yeah, things like that happen. We are usually pretty shielded from it, so it's crazy when it happens on your street -- and when they clearly are not afraid/ashamed to do a think like that in front of the NGO car seems to make a statement, too -- or maybe it was just opportunistic. I dunno.

Rachel said...

And so much here IS idyllic, it really is! Just so much is not, too, I guess.

Jikke said...

not too judge but out of curiosity: why didn't you stop and get out to see if the woman was okay or if she needed medical help?

Rachel said...

Hi Jikke, thanks for the question. Yeah, so, I know. I wish we had, but I understand why we didn't -- it was a combination of factors. Our driver didn't see it, so his top priority was getting us away from the crazy motorcycle -- we were all too shocked to say much at first -- and our security rules prevent us from getting involved in a violent situation, as well they should. In the end, looking back, I think we could have and should have checked on her, but we didn't.

Jikke said...

Okay - I understand that very well! I enjoy your blog a lot, you have excellent writing skills.

Rachel said...

Thanks, Jikke, that's really nice. :o)