I couldn’t miss going out to run today (my second day in Yida) as it was a chance for me to see around the camp, even though I’m not much of a runner. I was pleasantly surprised on arrival to see that the camp is more like a remote village that could be somewhere . . . anywhere. It’s the dry season so the days are pretty HOT and dusty everywhere and pleasantly chilly in the evening.
As I run with my colleague, the children started gathering to call out “Khawaja” [foreigner] in Arabic, some waving, while others were bold enough to extend their tiny little hands. As I run, I am transported back to a time when I was about the same age as these kids running wild and naked in my village in Bamenda, Cameroon. I could see myself staring at runners just like these excited kids. The older children and the adults sort of stood by and watched.
I could definitely see myself wondering why this person is running, because I’m supposed to run very fast only if I’m late for school (a 10 kilometer walk), rushing to the store to buy sweets or running away from war . . . !
As I run, I could see myself in the little girl wondering what is so urgent to make my legs move so fast.
As my heart beat started responding to my mind about the urgency of my run, I felt my strides getting shorter in the dust and I begin to slow down. As my body begins to slow down, the loud barking of stray dogs brings me back to reality and creates a different kind of urgency . . . I mentally checked if I got all my rabies shots. Hmmmm . . . I’m not ready for rabies and so my body and mind started functioning as one again and I sure was ready to run back to the compound. So far, so good. I might quickly become a regular runner in Yida . . . :-)