14 September 2013

The call to prayer

Naomi's school, in the middle of a palm oil plantation, is a special place. Set between highways, when you exit into it, the congestion and frantic pace of the KL suburbs falls behind trees, like you are being protected. Naomi and I arrive everyday around seven twenty and walk up the hill to her classroom, past a pond where a hornbill landed earlier this week. Naomi is completely at ease: if she sees a friend, she lets go of my hand and is happy to walk to her room without me. Every day, I stand at the bottom of the hill, watching her walk up and away from me, before getting back to our silver Hyundai Matrix and starting my day.

The school has been a kind of mercy: I had been gearing up for struggle, but there has been no struggle. The money keeps flowing out, but some things are much easier to pay for than others.

And then one more mercy. Kajang Stadium, which we have driven past for the last eight months, is actually a full running track with an acceptable play area attached. We've taken to heading there after dinner to let the children play until sunset, the Maghrib azan heard loudly from the mosque across the street and across from the electronics store. The weather has either been cooler or we have gotten used to the heat, and the early evening is glorious. Yoko and I stand at different places in the stadium, watching the children. 

The misadventure in Malaysia is at the crossroads, and the feeling that I had in March, that everything would go back in boxes and we move on, feels suddenly very real, like that potential universe is just about to swallow us. Malaysia, like a spurned lover, might still have its way: who can say goodbye to this so easily, I wonder, looking up at a minaret against the sunset. Some things are easier said than done.