The rain has just started. It sounds like artillery fire on the metal roof of the logistics building. If it continues much longer, there will be no plane tomorrow. Everyone is here, taking refuge from the storm. No Woman, No Cry issues thinly from someone’s laptop. No one speaks, they are all intent on their reports and paperwork.
Tomorrow I fly to Loki, then Amsterdam the following day, then home. I debrief in both Loki and Amsterdam, then the long and all-important debrief at home as I reflect on my mission.
I am seriously at loose ends having already completed my handover to the new doctor and cleaned out my tukul. I thumb my way around my ipod and settle on something that seems apropos for the moment: “Long as I remember the rain been comin’ down. Clouds of mystery pourin’ confusion on the ground. Good men through the ages, trying to find the sun. And I wonder, still I wonder, who'll stop the rain?”
I examine the pictures in my digital camera, hundreds and hundreds of them, all the pictures I could not show you: a malnourished baby with big eyes, an old man wasting away from Kala azar, a boy with a twisted TB spine, a child contorted with tetanus, a young man with a stump where his right leg should be. I come to the picture of a young woman who died of Kala Azar, I cannot bare to look at her.
I try to do a video with my digital camera. I go from person to person and get them to say hello. But the logistics room is dim, lit only by one light bulb and the glow of the computer screens. The video is too dark, my MSF family just a series of disembodied voices and self conscious, flashing smiles.
The rain intensifies. It streams off the corrugated roof in discrete rivulets; the ground below the overhang erodes into a series of identical puddles. It is becoming more and more obvious that there will be no plane. Once the airstrip morphs into a sea of mud it sometimes takes days to dry out. Isaac leans on the doorframe of the logistics room and stares balefully out at the deluge; he is due to leave for R and R tomorrow.
Of course, the plane will come eventually, if not tomorrow, then the next day or the next. For now I am content to stay here, I am in no rush. I will have at least one more night to say good-bye.
Below: My MSF Family: Zak, Helen, Fredoh, Lauralee, Geke and Isaac (missing: Leanna and Francis)