A Gambian Experience
“Right!” I announce, full of gusto,
to a sea of wide-eyed faces,
bare feet scuffing scrubby ground
as they vie for make-shift desks,
nothing more than upturned tea-chests,
pens and pencils poised at the ready.
“What I’d like you all to do, is draw
a portrait of yourselves, then write your name,
so I can start to get to know you better.”
Dimpled toes court the dust. Pencils
hover in mid-air like bees over ox-eyed daisies,
hands frantically scratch heads, except one
that seeks my attention.
“Miss, here’s mine, but the rest would rather draw
each other, if that’s allowed?” asks one little dot.
The penny drops. “Why thank you,” I say, delve
in my handbag for my mirror. “Maisha, come closer,
I’ve something to show you.” Maisha giggles, smiles
from ear to ear, just like the sun coming up,
like she’d never before seen her own reflection.
“It’s better than the river, Miss, no ripples. Say, Miss,
may I keep it? I’ll swap you for a biro!” On reflection,
I found myself thinking of all those things we take
for granted … like having the time to be a child.