Happily ensconced in skype, I didn’t hear anything until my roommate knocked on my closed bedroom door. I looked up, distracted by my friend talking on the other side of the world.

“the guard has caught someone and he’s holding him in the yard.”

I smiled and nodded at her. I’m unsure why. It wasn’t even a masking kind of smile. I felt no fear. I lingered for a moment longer talking and then, seeing the look on her face still standing in my doorway, I said goodbye and followed her out.

Sure enough, the guard had a man by the scruff of his shirt and kind of wagged him back and forth as he spoke unintelligibly to us. I’m always lost in language here, spending most of my working time dealing in English (and my non-working time ignoring the mzungu chant from little people), but my roommate is pretty good with lusoga. But she was lost too.

“that isn’t lusoga. Maybe Swahili?” she guessed.

Still our guard was excited. My roomie called P, one of our colleagues; the same colleague I’d just had an in-depth discussion with about getting rid of our daytime guard. His face had looked very concerned and he shook his head knowingly, “people see mzungus and believe certain things. They believe you have money. And it is the season, Christmas, it isn’t safe for you not to have guards.”

He was adamant, and not being from around here, I tend to err on the side of local knowledge. So I handed over this month’s payment and went about the business of feeling safer here than most places.

And then there I was staring into the face of a man who our guard caught, apparently smoking a cigarette, and peering through our living room window. Forced to sit legs tangled close to his body or splayed out uncomfortably, first on the steps between the office and house, and later on our front porch, the intruder didn’t say much. He kept fiddling with a leaf filled with dirt or moss or something. We guessed traditional medicine but had no way to verify or any means of understanding why he had it.

Distilled from all of the things the intruder offered up as reasoning for his presence in our compound, unannounced at 9pm – visiting a friend, looking for a job – one truth was that he used to work for our security company. Not a particularly warm and fuzzy feeling.

Still, he sat, docile, eyes occasionally meeting mine as if he expected me to understand something; head sometimes cradled in his hands after the crisp sound of hand to flesh from our overzealous guard.

He was carried away to the police station. I never really heard him protest and despite promising to fill in the details, I still don’t know why he was here or what is to come of him.

I can hear my mother muttering under her breath from here…but at least there wasn’t gunshot like when I lived on MLK. As my dad always says in answer to my sometimes interesting living situations, “the same God that takes care of her here takes care of her there”…wherever there happens to be.

Tags: , ,

3 Comments on safe for the night

  1. LaDawn Fletcher says:

    um, mom is probably going to see this and not be happy.

  2. sza says:

    I agree with LaDawn. Can you please not be so nonchalant about your safety and intruders? Geez lady! You are keeping the guard. Don’t make me paypal you.

Leave a Reply