I can’t open the taxi door from the inside; it’s just a twisted piece of metal poking through old fabric. My brain’s sluggish in the 3pm sun but I notice the door because I’m always running on a background hum of slight paranoia. The driver drags on his cigarette and exhales, smoke bouncing off the five dome mirrors hung above the dash. A Bahasa love ballard switches to a Chris Brown song.
Mai iha Timor-Leste hori-bainhira? (When did you come to Timor-Leste?)
Imi hakarak buka boyfriend iha Timor-Leste? (Do you want to look for a *rolls-eyes-inward-sigh* in Timor-Leste?)
Imi gosta Timor? (Do you like Timor?)
Teams are out playing afternoon volleyball off beach road, mana at the markets are haggling with malai, students take refuge from the sun under concrete structures at the park. It’s easy to make out the Cristo Rei from here- the statue of jesus opened up to the sky. The days are always so beautiful.
Hau gosta. (I like)
The days hang heavy, over-ripe with thick heat wishing to burst into torrential showers late afternoon. When they come down, turning estrada into running river, the kids slide around on the asphalt- a celebration not an inconvenience.
I met this kid, Jack, hanging outside with his posse last night at the Cabaret. He was the ringleader for sure, there’s a presence there that the others respect. I liked the kid initially because he told his friends they were too young for me when they asked to kiss me. Kids here are so robbed of the ability to be innocent and naïve. I think he’s a bit of a linguist, he’s not impressed by my amateur attempts at Tetun- he knows I’m a fraud. He knows I only speak one language and he speaks three and he’s probably wondering why, if this is the case, I’m sitting here holding a beer with a 20 in my purse and he’s on the street at 1am with nothing. I don’t know how much of a shot he has of swaggering his way into a future where he doesn’t have to sell wooden crocodiles on the beach for a fifth of the profit to give to his mum. Because of where he’s happened to end up in life, not because of a lack of intelligence or perseverance. And that’s scary to me because such a lack of control over one’s own life seems terrifying. He looks at me with the dead-pan stare of somebody who’s seen too many malae come and go and screw things up and not care.
I need to learn some bad words in Tetun. I need to learn some appreciative words in Tetun.
In mango season the days are always so beautiful.