He anxiously waited at the bus stop for her. It had been months since he’d last saw her but it had felt like years. She was on television, in many interviews, different shows and locations and it appeared a lot had transpired, it’s the illusion of pluralism. In the village things hadn’t changed much, things weren’t as fast paced as the world out there and tradition was the law. Here change took a different form, no razzledazzle, a modicum at a time. In the fog he waited, reminiscing about his childhood friend, now the object of his most amorous intentions, about catching bugs, climbing trees and chasing butterflies in the summer.
She got off, two suitcases and he was happy to carry them. She had a surprise waiting for her, the village was preparing something festive to celebrate her success and how she had presented them to the world. They took a segway off the road, treaded the marshy footpaths down the mountains, skipping puddles and finding moist patches of ground when the hills allowed. There was a frown on her face, she snorted, gasped and huffed in exasperation, almost shocked by how unchanged this part of the world remained. She hadn’t adjusted her expectations, much had transpired and with it a lot had changed from her perspective, and when the world changed she changed too. Here she was, changed. Boots covered in dirt, tiptoeing and careful to no avail, her long white gypsy dress splashed with water and mud, she cursed under her breath, incredulous at the world. When she asked how he has been, it sounded otherwise, like she was using his tales to gauge for the conditions in the village, and as he enthusiastically talked about the livestock and the birds her face crumpled even further, her brow furrowing and shoulders hunching.
At the gate a cavalcade of women in traditional beaded wear greeted her with singing, dancing and ululating, welcoming their heroine. The patriarch sat in a semi-circle watching, drinking traditional drink from clay jugs. She marched forward and curtsied to the patriarch as tradition required, they blessed her and congratulated her on her achievements. He watched vicariously before going inside the house and putting the suitcases down. He slouched into the sofa, creaking and sinking under his weight. There was a fair bit of pandemonium outside, the men had broke into a song of their own and the little girls were ecstatic to see their role model.
When it all died down she joined the women on the chopping block and the pots on the fires, reverting into the younger socialized version of herself, meek. He sauntered to the doorway and looked on recognizing the uncanny switch, underneath the facade he peered and he saw how conflicted she was, her travels had etched a new identity in her. She didn’t belong there anymore, she didn’t belong with him, and in deference to her heritage she wanted to but she couldn’t. There, caught in her own testing experience, she missed a seminal moment in the life of the village, the effect her presence was having.