I spend weeks in my hometown- a small, forgotten patch of land that doesn’t exist on the map.
The only grocery market in this town is a street where old, wrinkled woman sell their produce.
They have terrifyingly large ear piercings that are stretched out by gold earrings that dangle till their shoulders. If I tried, I could fit my three fingers through the holes in their lobes. Maybe four.
The thought makes me squeamish.
The shops are only open at dawn, and then for another hour in the evenings.
I arrive too early in the morning, so I decide to return later at 5:00. The street is alive.
Stretching at the seams, like a man who has grown fatter but more joyful than he’d ever expected. It has a pleasantly surprised look, a startled, oh you brought friends air to it.
Everyone is happier than they have reason to be.
I point to the tomatoes. Blood-red, gleaming fruits. I ask the vendor for her price. She looks at me for a moment, judges my clothing, my accent. Deciding I’m not a native, she names a ridiculously high price.
Don’t we all measure the value of things by how much we’re willing to lose for it?
I stalk off, not bothering to look back when she cries out, in a loud, demanding voice, the word for sister- akka.
It is an intimate word, a heavy word.
The word young men use to reassure you they’re not going to rape you.
The word young women use with their sister-in-laws, as if to say, relax, I’m not here for your place. Leave me be.
Take me out of this race.
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