by Kenna Lee Edler
Every Saturday morning the ones living in containers flocked out from their metallic rectangular homes to see what the service van had brought for them. The van was always pristine, a bright magnet attracting everyone who had sent out an order or a wish list. It brought medicines, canned products with foreign labels and outlandish taste, Christmas presents from abroad, six months too late or too early, news from without as magazines, newspapers, and gossip. It was the fragile reed that supplied most development aid workers, especially the new ones, with breaths from their homelands.
Minina didn’t care for the shiny imported stuff. She was jumping up and down, waiting for another car. Mr Blue’s green pick up would appear with the service van, bringing her something from his work in the jungle. A little anecdote covered the object like gold wrapping paper. Untying the bow of her present was putting the left foot on a tyre, gripping the rail and swinging the right leg up onto the load bed.
“Papá, papa, where is it? Is it this box? This one?”
“No, look, it’s in here, it’s this white bucket. Don’t touch it! Let me take it down.” The bow is untied and the ribbons loosen and fall apart.
“Wait, wait, I’ll lift the lid… gentle now. Look now. What is it?”
“Oooohh papá I’ve never seen this one! It’s huge! So long!! And look, look, there’s also two chicks!”
“It’s the longest one that has ever come near me so of course I had to bring it. I said, Minina must see this one! I was sitting having a break, drinking my beer, and I thought a branch moved. What do you do when you think something moves?”
“You stop what you’re doing, look carefully, and if it’s dangerous and too near, hit it with your stick!”
“And where is your stick?”