Colour Blinded

Life in Luanda is colourful. Not always having the bare necessities, but colourful the same. I almost forgot how it feels like when you have no water.

Water from the town hasn’t been flowing for almost 3 days now, and we have depleted our water storage. So this morning H took shower after I gathered water somewhere somehow in a bucket, boiling it, and pouring it over him with a big mug. “Mon coeur, we are camping!!” he likes to say.

But Angolans seem to embrace life with open arms. Take yesterday for example. The young men across the street carted over a stereo set complete with amplifiers, set up a table and unveiled a make-shift dj area. They would turned up the volume to the max and played some songs. Disregarding whether the neighbors craved for some peace or different music genre. Everybody sashay-ed kizomba or capoeira while continue doing their work – how much of it got completed is probably not the question.

Or another example: we often passed by an overcrowded bus. H and I would be sitting inside our air-conditioned car with darkened shades, while the bus literally moved inch by inch because it was carrying 50% more passengers than it’s supposed to. And yet, despite the traffic, sun and the scorching humidity, they, loudly and confidently, sang on top of their lungs “Vamos a praya, vamos a praya“. Let’s go to the beach. Let’s go to the beach. Doesn’t matter that the closest beach is probably 30km away. That’s not the point.

So I have to ask myself, what is the point? When was the last time I was that fearless or lighthearted? When I was rushing over deadlines and cheering myself with “I can see the end of the tunnel!” Or when I was planning over my vacation?

I am never good at waiting. Even when there’s nothing I can do. Thinking that complaining will help time moves faster and achieves more. Thinking that my education and my good intention will turn me into a wise (wo)man, full glass brimming knowledge. But you see, they are happy where they are. They aren’t like me who craves for modernity and efficiency. They probably do, a certain lot probably can’t wait to get out of the country either. But for many of them, this is life. This is the piece of cake they are allotted with.

My classmates aren’t shocked when I relay to them my Angola stories. They laugh when I tell the story of my encounter with banditto with a gun or public beating of a thief. They thought these bandits should be beaten to death to serve as social warning to like-minded men that are typically sprouting around Christmas and other holiday season. They crave for absolute free market and laissez-faire, not knowing that in another part of the world, capitalism is hindering universal health care.

It’s like there are two parallel worlds. One they watch on TV or hear from people like me, and the one they are living in. Despite the big gap separating the two, it doesn’t make them despair. It turns them into individuals who share their music with the surrounding neighborhood that includes a hospital. It turns them into generous people who share their handkerchieves to strangers to swipe their sweats and then reuse the said handkerchieves after washing with still water under a tree. It turns them into a person who gives a free ice-cream so that you can also enjoy one, just like the rest of your friends.

Life in Luanda is certainly like a full-spectrum of colours. At times, with stunning brightness.


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