You love Dar-es-salaam. For the people and the smells and the sights. You love about it the parts that the tourist attraction guides never tell you. The messy bits. The loose-ended bits that make your hair stand up on its ends. Like the day you saw the bajaji driver throw himself at a moving car and just barely scraped through. You held your breath then and decided that bajaji drivers are suicidal and you must never trust them. And the time you saw this woman fall off a pikipiki and watched her pick herself up gingerly whilst the crowd laughed. You tried to picture what went through her mind then, did she call out to a god somewhere that had somehow forgotten to watch over her?
You also love the markets. The smells there, the people and how they stare at you with something in their eyes you could not put a name to, you eventually decided it was curiosity. Maybe they sensed the strong scent of “otherness” from your skin. Or maybe it was the look of wonderment, and surprise tainting your face that had you standing out like a firefly in the middle of a summer night.
You have fallen in love with the people’s culture. You look forward to hearing the muslim’s call to the mosque everyday. You look forward to an arabic call who’s words you know nothing about. You look for every opportunity to say words like inshallah, or allhamdullilah, or salaam maleikum.
You have fallen in love with the city lights, the smell of the jikos and candles being lit in evening because there is no electricity. You love the sea and the sound it makes. You can see it from your house. But you cannot smell it and it’s the smell you love the most. And the walks taken by its sand shores as the boy that isn’t yours attempts to tell you about himself but there are no words because his words unlike yours are stuck somewhere in his being. And you are ok with that because your head is a show case full of words. You tell him about your father and how he was taken from you. He tells you, “hold my hand” and as he takes you back home to the sadness and the lonely he whispers to you, “tonight you will sleep like a baby, tomorrow, your troubles will still be there but you’ll be ok. You’ll be better than today.”
And so you love the city because of all the hopes it holds for you. You are still sad about a lot of things. You are still waking up with left over anger from your dreams. You are no longer searching for the silver linings in dark clouds for you have learnt that some clouds are too dark to hold any silver, or light. You are scared to dream though, scared to hope too much. So you accept whatever the universe hands you. Right now, you are in Dar-es-salaam, and tonight there is no sadness. There are no “whys” dotting the lining of your mind. You are content. And that’s ok. That’s enough.