Days like this I have trouble walking from place to place. At times my steps feel unsteady under the hot sun. I am overcome by Australian paranoia about sun stroke, or convince myself that I’m experiencing an aftershock from apparent earthquake that hit last week. But I’m actually so tired, and so alone, that I feel myself vulnerable.
To a peanut seller I paid twenty cents for two bags. He looked longingly at my large Ruby Red grapefruit and I gave him a piece. There are so many things here I hate almost violently, like the attitude of so many men and boys. But then there are these strange moments of interaction, these flashes of dignity between people that sustain me.
Dignity is such a key word here, for I seem to be preoccupied with Timorese dignity and very ambivalent about guarding my own. Everywhere you go, almost everybody you meet, as a foreign woman, you are forced to decide how intensely you would like to defend yourself. If you walk around hardened like stone, you have already lost. But open the door to anything, let the smallest gesture slip, and you’ve branded yourself useable, you’re just as lost.
It’s an extremely tiring paradox. To feel human: to treat people with dignity and respect, you must constantly be made to feel exploited, hated and disrespected. Perhaps I should read some Camus.
I think part of the problem here is a total lack of perspective. It is getting lost in the dirt along the gutters, it is getting lost in wrong people’s faces, gaining approval and affection from the wrong people. I lose important markers: the breeze, sunset, the stars at night. Without them, everything seems to blend into this grey-brown color, this intractable mess. Where are the boyscouts? How can I find somebody who will draw my attention to the transcendent?