“What do you eat back home? No, what meals? What is the nutritious content? What utensils do you eat with? Do your children play with barbies, What is the rate of HIV/AIDS? Do you ride a car? Do you have cars? What kind? What of your roads? Of what kind are they? What’s your government like? You run a socialist government, right? No? But your medicare is government run, right? Not as efficient as we have here. You can go to the hospital and get treated without having insurance. Yes? No? Do you like Obama? How did you speak English? Just what is like in Africa where you’re from?”*
Beaten paths of childhood dreams and games on a once dusty road, I return to the noises of the street from where I come. It lay bare in the eye of the sun, with drumbeats of restless feet, and hope on thumping hearts. It seems distant, but also sometimes close by in the eyes of the little children I encounter within the walls of this new land: adventure, love, curiosity, precociousness, love, hate, impatience, impetuousness… Their parents dote on them with love and protection, as they should, in hopes of a more hopeful day ahead. It looks the same to me, I think, and smile back at the little shy girl on the lap of her father. She inherits a large world of new dreams and places to see, and taste.
Behind my childhood home, about half a mile towards the more silent parts of the neighbourhood is a railway line that divides the city into two. I’d stand by its side, looking towards each direction from where locomotive trains blare their horns early in the morning as they move coal and some other market goods around, and dream. The rail goes as far as eyes can see, into where else its makers destined it and on the regularity of black but shining tracks. It recedes beyond my reach all the time, and along with the dusty sweat on my brow carry with them a dream of a place far beyond the reach of limits. It is here. It is even farther beyond. Out through the window of the child’s eye, I see that dream of the past and the adventures of coming days.