Monday, August 30, 2010

Bruns – Norman Rush

Norman Rush - October 24, 1933

Interesting author. Rush and his wife served as Co-Peace Corps Country Directors in Botswana from 1978-1983. His experiences there colored his stories – this one not excluded.

Tough story to get through. Honestly, I have trouble reading stories in dialects. They turn me off from the beginning, and I can’t seem to manage them enough to dive deeper into the story.

With this story, I can only guess that it draws on an incident that Rush may have witnessed during his time in Botswana.

His closing two sentences actually wrap the story up for me perfectly.

“There is ruin. It’s perfect.”

Very seldom does a week go by that I don’t think about my time in the Peace Corps. This constant reflection is of course only stimulated more by having M as a wife…but I reflect often on my time there and my memory is still good enough to pick out small details of days and moments that had a great impact on my life.

On our past trips back to Negresti, one of the first things I try to do is to walk the streets. This is a pretty funny desire because when I lived there, I made efforts not to be seen on the streets.

When I walk the streets, I want people to recognize me. I want to see if they have changed – I want to see if they see any change in me.

Negresti is a strange town. It hasn’t changed much in the 10 years since we left. There are far more stores and the selection of merchandise is much greater for the consumer (as opposed to the times when I couldn’t even buy bread or salami).

I walk the streets and I go into the stores and I see the selection and I see that people are buying and I am happy that these products are available to them – but then, there is a slight twinge of sadness deep in me.

I want to hold onto the suffering that I had when I lived there. I want the walks and the stores to be the same. I want the small bars and cafes to only have 3 selections of beer and 2 choices of coffee and 3 brands of cigarettes – rather than the 10 choices of beer, 10 coffees and 10 brands of cigarettes.

I want the cafes to be cold and dark…I want the bars to be cold, dark and filled with the smoke of a days worth of smokers. I want the streets to be broken and cracked – I want to hear people calling out to me and whispering as I pass…

I take comfort in the memories – am I afraid of the progress because it is unknown?

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