Termite Wings

The sky is clearly frustrated, almost constipated with rain as you stare out over the rolling hills of the Adamawa from your school. Off in the distance you see a goliath of dust emerge, cranky, woken by the bellowing winds of a sky releasing anxiety. You stare transfixed as the first exhale of weeks of sun swirl around you. Some instinct, thousands of years old, tells you to turn just in time as the goliath rushes by, eager to work off its frustration with a dash across the countryside.

The days up to this have been great. One of your counterparts has shown you so much work he has done and work he wants to do with you that you feel almost obsolete. You are eager to plan during the summer with him to help encourage teachers not to insult or hit their students.

Teachers here act more like frustrated and mean big brothers than educators. You’ve heard stories of smart kids not responding to a question they know the answer to because they don’t want to be called stupid or forced to parade around answering questions till they eventually get something wrong so that the teacher can reassure him or herself that they were right in the child’s perceived ignorance. You would be madder at teachers, you are mad, but you know where they are coming from. For months you were not yourself, for months you were the teacher waiting for the stupid answer, just wanting to make a kid kneel at the front of the class so that you could feel some semblance of control in such a chaotic situation. What prompted your switch was just fatigue, you got so tired of using so much energy to be someone you weren’t. But how to help other teachers to make a switch when all they’ve known are teachers, bosses, cops, store clerks, moto drivers, mayors even religious leaders being rude, mean and condescending to assert a meager image of dominance to secure themselves in a world of so much insecurity and unfairness?

During a day of constant rain you deep clean your house. No small feat when to mop you must bend over with a bucket of water and questionable rag, Cinderella style. Afterwards you sit on your now clean floor, worried that you just dirtied it and watch the grey sky during a pause in the rain. Spread sporadically across the sky are termites flying in what appears to be no particular direction. This happens after every rain, and soon you’ll find their wings on every feasible surface outside, the termites themselves already gone, probably eating away at your mud-brick walls. They hide somewhere out of sight, for god knows how long, developing, growing, and after a dose of falling sky they emerge, flying, liberated of a moist, suffocating dirt. So you wrote a poem:

With the sighs and cries of the tired sky come termites,

Deep from some place unseen,

So it must be serine.

The termites fly in the liberated air,

Hesitant of future rain,

But glad to be able to fly after months of

Living, growing and just being.

Tired you watch,

Learning how to grow,

How to develop unseen,

To wait for a fresh sky to fly in.


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