Monday, 23 February 2015

Eclipse: An Unexpected Conversation - by Tula Maxted

Memories, by Amita Murray

I sat on a yoga mat, making a barrier against the red-hot sand. A camper-van nearby had stalled in a deep rut, leaning over a little to the left and forward. There were thousands of people here at this featureless spot in the Libyan Sahara. Europeans with cameras, telescopes, and baggage, Libyans and Egyptians crammed into rickety vehicles. There had been many falling by the wayside, broken down, engulfed by sand, all along the route from Benghazi. People collected up by other, already overfilled coaches, cars even motorbikes, and wheeled carts. Here we all were now though, waiting for the eclipse totality. 

The boys from inside the van had gone off to make their midday prayers. The two girls, no longer confined to waving at us foreigners from within the van, now crept outside. They huddled together, nodding silently to each other then made their way over to me. They stood smiling, one of them carrying a small book, held tightly in her hand.

‘Hello’ I said, pointing to myself I added ‘my name is Tula’. I stood up and pressed their hands in turn.

The older girl spoke, ‘Fatima,’ she said indicating herself. The made a gesture towards the younger girl, ‘Lula.’ 

Lula grinned widely, ‘Same like you – Lula, Tula’. 

‘Yes’ I agreed, ‘Hello Lula, hello Fatima’.

Fatima opened up the book she was carrying and held it out towards me. I glanced at the page, it was a book of English phrases. Fatima put her free hand to her chest and then spread her hand out towards me. She marked a page line with her finger, and carefully read it out to me. 

It said ‘I love you’.

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