This is Zambia. This is life here in Zambia. This is spending the day walking through the trees on the small footpaths until you make it to where they lead. To the next village, to the farm, to the fields. This is sitting in the sun, grass brushing on your cheeks, imagining what you would do if there were still lions living in these plains. How scared would you be?
This is sitting on the porch while a Zambian ataata tries to teach you a rhythm on the drum. This is you following along on an empty twenty-liter jug rigged as a drum. This is you following along until he stops and the beat seeps out from your fingers and is lost. This is you trying to retain these new rhythms. This is you failing to time and time again.
This is him drumming. This is him singing along over your two drums as the rain beats quickly over your heads. Quickly, quickly loud. This is the leak in the roof by your feet. This is you not caring if you get wet.
This is moving pots and towels around to cover the spots where the roof still leaks. This is not getting all of the spots. This is airing out your wet blanket in the morning when the clouds finally have cleared and the sky is blue and bright like nothing happened at all.
This is the amaama bringing food to the hut. Food that you brought her, food that she prepared. Mushrooms cooked with fish, and cabbage and nshima. This is eating with your hands, scooping up the pieces, mopping up the oils at the bottom, washing your hands while crouched over the dirt, pitcher in your hand. This is being satisfied. This is better than you could have ever made yourself.
This is people showing up. A greeting. A handshake. This is making chairs out of objects. This is everyone joining the circle on the porch.
This is pulling out the drums again. Creating rhythms. Creating music. Create something new. This everyone trying, everyone failing, drums play on. The drums keep playing on.
This is the sight of fallen clear and delicate termite wings covering the ground in the morning. This is stepping delicately at first around them, and then just stepping.
This is the amaama joining the party. Dance she says. Dance.
This is the dragonfly struggling to escape the lit porch. This is it flying into the light time and time again. You grab it. You throw it off of the porch and finally it flies away. This is the drums still playing. This is the rain falling. This is the rain slowing down.
Dance, she says to her husband.
Dance, she says to her son.