As I sit here today amidst what seems like a world gone mad in virus lockdown mode I am transported back to memories of my childhood. For years I have meant to write some of these thoughts down on paper – for my son – so they can passed on and, if worthwhile, perhaps remembered and told again as future minds wander down memory lane.
I don’t know when this memory is from, but if I had to guess I would say mid 80s. When I was perhaps 8 or 9. At the time we were living on Bole road in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We were one of the few houses on what would become, over the course of the next twenty years, the main drag through town to the airport. My bedroom was on the second floor and looking out through my window I would spy a verdant valley in the distance. Towards a railway bridge spanning a river where the train never ran. Already in those days they say it stopped running in the “olden days.” Suffice to say I never did see a train cross those tracks. Though I did see many families ferrying goods on the backs of hard-working donkeys. I saw kids kicking a tattered soccer ball way past its prime over to the field on the other side (aka a patch of grass trampled on so much that it turned to either mud or hard packed dirt depending on the weather and two empty metal metal containers as goal posts).
Sometimes looking out through my window I remember thinking what my place in this world was … and where my path would take me. Never would I have imagined I would be a second grade teacher in Kuala Lumpur, one that would have to teach “virtually” because the whole world would go into Covid-19 lockdown.
And then there were those times when I wouldn’t look at my window but the light would come to me. My bed was perfectly placed to capture the afternoon sun, but just on my legs. Enough to make me cosy and comfy while reading a Paperino comic before dozing off with our family cat (whose name I have forgotten) also snoozing at my feet.
As destiny would have it that window is no more. A series of mistakes, unfortunate circumstances, and perhaps fate conspired against my father and the family business. The long and short of it is that one day we received a notice in the mail saying the bank would foreclose. Then in the fall of 2009 we received another letter saying we had 48 hours to leave. That’s another story altogether, one that I will tell, but not today. But leave we did and a few months later the house was torn to the ground and a high-rise complex went up in it’s place.
As I sit here now looking out another window I wonder what will happen to all those families that are on the edge now, or soon will be, just like we were then due to the economic implications of this Covid-19 crisis. I don’t wish those moments on anyone. But for now as I take in these last rays of afternoon sun shining outside this new window of mine here in 2020 I choose to be optimistic and hope that they are omens of more positive things to come. Not the last flickers at the end of a long day announcing the impending darkness.