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  • I turned the radio on one day and there was music. A melody, rhythm and lyrics. Actual lyrics that transported me back home.


    Where was home?

    Was it bundled up in the cold with endless cups of tea and television? Sandwiches made with ham, mayo and a piece of lettuce? Packets of crisps and readily available chocolate? People with one skin color, the same accent, the same stories, the same ideas?

    Or was it padding around on cool tile in bare feet? Wandering into the local PTC to find nothing on the shelves yet again? Chocolate bars that cost 500% more than they should? Being a minority instead of the majority? Speaking in a way that always got you noticed and not always for the right reasons?

    It was a time of transition from girl to woman. Trying to find my way, my path in life with nothing cultural to anchor me. No television shows to share my anguish with. No bands or musical groups that sang of my woes.

    There was just the occasional Top Tunes! program that I would stumble upon by chance, drooling over the musical possibilities. What would be played next? How many songs were left on the playlist? When would the show come on again? Would I ever hear the sounds of 'civilization' ever again?

    Of course there were local music stations playing Malawian music day and night. But I scorned that music for it was everywhere, all the time. It reminded me that I was here instead of there. I made me homesick for a home I hardly knew anymore.

    Now, of course, when I turn the channel on the radio or a song comes on my iPod that has an African beat or tones of the African continent, I grab the machine and stare at it intently. I turn up the music and my mind is flooded with images of pikinins (kids) running down the street in tandem with our car. I'm reminded of of the endless sky and winter heat as we swam in our friend's pool on Christmas day. I find joy in thinking what a blessed life I had growing up in Malawi with no television or internet at a time when life could have been so much more complicated, stressful and fraught.

    I have this tendency to always believe that the grass is greener somewhere else, but I'm learning that if you work hard to tend the grass you have in the moment, the grass will always be sweeter in the here and now no matter how Top the tunes are off in the distance.
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