Comment Ca Va?

This morning, Pauline calls on her cell phone from Carnot, Central African Republic.  Where have you been, she wants to know.  Have you been traveling?  I tell her, I've been to my mother-in-law's house.  Is it far?   Like so many things, when seen along side Pauline's perspective, I have no idea how to answer.  In C.A.R., a 90 mile journey could take all day or more.  Yes, it's far.  But we zip there in a smooth two hours, eating snacks and listening to music and surfing the internet, in a climate controlled vehicle that we are confident will not break down.  No, it's not too far.  Of course, I can't explain these details, just as I can't send photographs, because we are all so smiley and jokey and bright, everything around us so new, our houses so huge, our cars so abundant.  Even the glossy photo paper, creamy envelope and self-adhesive stamp embarrass me.

Pauline asks about my kids, my parents, my husband.  Everyone is fine, I tell her.  I do not say that my son has to get braces and that I've signed the girls up for gymnastics, that the kids are fighting over their new video game and that my husband has decided to become a vegan.  And her family? Her mother is doing better, recovering from a mysterious illness, but her knees are still bothering her.  Her kids, Pauline says, are all in school.  And Fosphen? I ask.  He was three when I arrived, five when I left.  He has gone to the capital Bangui for some reason I don't understand, and Pauline is not happy about that.  Her husband Morris is gone too, searching for diamonds. Difficult, I say.  Yes, she says.  It is very hard.  And especially now.  The work is not good.

And for the new year? I ask.  Will you have a party?  How can I know, she says.  The new year is not even here yet.  When it comes, if Morris has returned, if we find some money, we will have a party. And then the line goes dead before we have a chance to say good-bye.

1 comment:

  1. i'm so stealing that line...how can i know?...but for different reasons.