That evening, I spent what felt like a lifetime with my uncles who were no older than myself at eighteen years young. We spent the long sweaty afternoon moseying through the halls of Burco university, which they both attended. We saw the classrooms they studied veterinary medicine in. They were filled with wooden tables that browned to a sable colour and cupboards that embraced almost all the walls from ceiling to floor . The campus was like a maze, every building was lined with greenery so lush and sweet, they could fool you into thinking Burco was not an arid town. I could’ve sworn that that bushel of tulips were next to the library and not the science building. Tired, I don’t contest or feed into my confusion. We walked and walked till our ankles clicked with each step. Finally, after an hour of exploring we headed for the car and steamed to downtown.
My dress tripped me up as I stumbled out of the four by four Toyota. Amal as always, began to chuckle fervently to herself and as always, I hissed till her eyes rolled like turntables back into their rightful places, not looking at me. Edero ushered my sister and I into the restaurant that sat nestled between hotels and clothing shops in downtown Burco. Nightfall scuttled us up the stairs to the rooftop as we realised we’d not stomached a meal in well over six hours.
I watched the Sun gracefully settling into herself for a long slumber. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is here, she always sleeps at 6pm. Her light reflected on all the shop windows, pencilling them in a crayola yellow that signalled the people to begin their late night festivities. That’s when the city rumbles into a cacophony of horns beeping from the bustling bajaajs and impatient white toyotas. Young single women stand in small knots along the dusty streets and watch the local boys, making conversation with the flutter of their eyelashes. The streets aren’t named here, they’re known for passed events or landmarks or old men that sat their long enough to claim that spot their own.
The city is young in age and population. Everyone spills into downtown and eats all the delectables the city has to offer: bariis, baasto, xilib, assortments of juices and smoothies, the one flavour of ice cream and shaah spiced with the finest cardamom doused with many cupfuls of sugar. The latest hits from BK and Fiska boom from car stereo speakers and combat the gentle sounds of the Adhan that call from every masjid in our vicinity. Shops with marble floors decorated with rows of abayas and khamees’ invite the young into their dungeons of consumerism. I peered over the edge of the rooftop watching the young lambs being lured in.
Edero snaps his fingers and my attention returns back to the menu.
‘Chicken or lamb?’ He asked.
‘Chicken or lamb? Which would you prefer?’
‘Ooh and a mango smoothie!’
Glimmering pearls greeted me as we laughed at my sudden excitement for a mango smoothie.
Ali, sat to the left of me with his arms outstretched on the rickety table and shoulders leaning in. His eyes sat like two blanched almonds and were framed with thin brows so black they looked blue. I watched his face try to make sense of me like an old CRT television finding a signal. Finally, he inquired, ‘So, do you watch Law and Order?’