For 14 minutes, uninterrupted, I stare at the sweet offering of a box. It has my name and the ultimate destination: Serif Umra. It’s from the far off land called Canada. Its contents offer less than its surprising unforeseen materialisation. A care package from an MSF 'familial' colleague. Pure joy seeps from the corners of my lips that slowly give away what I am actually not all hard to disguise: unimaginable happiness.In the lonely confines of the field, it’s terribly unfortunate that what can constitute to happiness is the manifestation that someone you left behind cares. Of course it’s also the chocolates and silly other small things compacted to make best. That’s what we try to rekindle, but never reach match is it? With e-mail, I mean. It’s not the same as handwritten postcard or the carefully crafted care package. The package holds for me the fascination for my own intensity with which I experience each moment, well for these 14 minutes of moments of pure stuffed exhilarating anticipation.
I experience the arrival of the offering with as much zeal as the disappointment that the staff have weak internal alarm bells for sick children as for the man with an accidental gunshot through his right kidney as for the piece of most perfectly barbequed camel meat. The feisty sometimes riotous brooding I have for this life's imperfections makes all moments longer than they should be. It also makes the ever growing ulcer fed by copious amounts of chilli and cigarettes but on a respite from alcohol for 6 months, an impending threat to my greater wellbeing. The mind however is harder to erode than the fragile lining of the ceaseless call of the stomach. The mind’s nutrients come from resources you have hard to concoct as well as from the simple most easily available of nature’s offerings. So life in the field is not always the story about the kid we waited to feed until it was starving, or the providing the basics we consider essential to human dignity for those who have had to flee their lives in fear. It’s also about keeping sane and healthy ourselves to persevere. It’s about being inspired and thrilled and when these become scarce, to dig deep to find it.