We are on our way to Mbamba Bay, on Lake Nyasa. Over the water is Malawi and through the window of the bus comes dust which covers our faces and necks in grainy layers. The town can barely be called that – more a collection of sleepy streets and palm trees. From the back of the piki-piki I keep my face to the water and turn to see that Sarah is doing the same.
We’re staying with Onesmo, Shabani’s friend and in the morning one of his neighbours climbs barefoot up the coconut tree, throws down huge green fruit, like bombs. They are bashed off a rock, the husk ripped off, cracked open and we are handed fresh coconut water, foaming and sweet. Walking to meet Onesmo, we find him on the road returning from the lake carrying two gleaming silver fish on a string. The hospitality and generosity here, in Eat Africa, is unlike anything I’ve ever known.
We are greeted shikamoo by strings of giggling kids and we repeat the same words to our elders. Do we have a word rd for that in English? Do we have a word for the way the light comes so fast at night, falling so swiftly? A word for the lines of dust on our feet, the sound of water from the tap?