I had been sad - no, no, worse, bordering on morbid - for nearly three weeks.
I hadn't been going for my ritualistic tri-weekly long distance runs. The runs that strengthen my body. The runs that work my heart and drive blood through my veins. The runs that settle my mind of muddle and confusion from life on earth. The runs that clear my conscientiousness to a state pure placidity. The runs that help me take a good poop the next day.
My running hiatus was not caused by injury, nor lack of motivation, nor the ridiculously hot climate. The cause of my cease in running was much, much, MUCH stupider.
Among my dog's many remarkably charming attributes, Fuzz also has his vices. One such vice is his obsessive affinity for removing my shoes from the house to chew on them in the yard. Now listen, I'm not much one for aesthetics, especially here in Africa; a few bite marks are nothin to me! Dad always said, "B, function over form. Function over form. No logical human wants a nice, pretty piece of crap that doesn't work worth a darn." But the nommy-marks weren't the problem.
Usually he does his chewing right by the shower. 'Where is my shoe?' I would think. Immediately I'd reply to myself, 'Ah, yes, that dusty patch nearest the shower.' And always, unfailingly, it would be there. Easy find.
This time, however, this time was something different. It wasn't next to the shower. Nor behind the shower. Nor anywhere near it, for that matter. It wasn't behind the staff bungalows. It wasn't in the cement pit of despair (Carolyn, you know what I mean). It wasn't in the filthy, smelly garbage pile. It wasn't in or around the row of thick green shrubs in front of my house. Then, suddenly, it hit me.
"Oh, shit, *more vulgar curse* ....it's somewhere out in the cashew grove."
Now I know, that may not sound that bad, but Fuzz roams the several hectares of cashew groves daily. Not only that, but since it is dry season, the cashew trees are dropping their leaves. In other words, my shoe was in the quite cliché position of being a needle (dirty gray shoe) in a haystack (several hectares of ankle-deep, light brown leaves).
So, I looked and I looked. My searches were in vain. The shoe was no where to be found. I loved those shoes. They had been with me since the beginning. I mean really the beginning, April of 2012. I was desperate. Then miserably hopeless. Then totally dejected. Then just resigned.
Some two weeks later, long after I had stopped worrying about it, some little girls were milling around my house - per usual - apparently waiting for some attention or interaction. They were around 8 or so in age, thin, very pretty, and obviously sisters. I had an idea, feeling inordinately brazen for a Tuesday afternoon, I strode into my room and grabbed the lone left sneaker. I returned to the yard, pointed to the shoe, then out into the cashew grove, and said, "KƆ hƆ wƆ cashew dua no ne hyehyɜ me shoe no." Literally in English, "Go there in the cashews trees and look for my shoe." They smiled, nodded, and ran off.
I parked myself on the porch to catch a breeze and to work on the following week's science test. Midterm exam to be exact. It had been about two hours and no sign of the girls. 'Oh well,' I thought, 'They gave up just like I did - can't blame them.' Supposing I might as well finish up the test while I was at it, I continued typing away. The topics were (1) Soil Conservation, (2) The Nature the Water Molecule, and (3) Acids, Bases, and Salts. Somewhere between the polarity of H2O and hydrogen bonding, I heard distant, but distinctly gleeful shrieking coming up the eastward path toward my house. I stood so abruptly and roughly that I nearly threw my computer to the ground.
"...No *f-word*ing way..." I said aloud, completely befuddled.
But there they were. Two adorable, tiny little ladies sprinting down the path with my shoe held high in the air, like Usaine Bolt with the Jamaican flag after an Olympic 100m dash.
Upon their arrival I embraced them vigorously. Which was as much to their surprise as it was to their great delight. I went quickly inside the house, and returned with two 20 pesewa pieces (20 pesewas is worth about a dime in the US). I placed a small tarnished coin in each of their small dirty palms.
Wide-eyed and with an open mouth smile, they looked down at the coins in their hands, then at each other, then at me. "Thank you Madam!!!!!" they squealed with rejoice as they ran/ skipped/ bounded down the opposite, westward path homeward.
20 pesewa pieces held with pride, high in the air all the way.
'No, no. Thank you girls!' I thought, a shoe in each hand. Ahhhh, finally reunited. I went running that evening for about an hour / approximately 7 miles. And it was AWESOME.
One last note: A bit of profound thinking... Since I am into that kind of thing these days... Win-win situations are a great deal, right? Well, I think my interaction with those two little girls was probably the most genuine and deeply joyful win-win situation I have ever been a part of.