You Will Remember This Dust

In the dry season the wind carries the dust and you get the dust on your skin and your clothes and in your hair so that you smell of the dust. The dust smells of the town so that you also smell of the town. It is a dry, powdery, sour smell so it is not a smell that you would want for yourself or from another. But for you and for the others - those that live in huts and burn sticks and carry water in jugs from the river, those that are unwashed and unlaundered and entirely accustomed to it - for you and them it is a unifying smell. If in so many ways we are different, at least we have that much in common.

Young women and girls in the village of Hai-Salaam

You think of all the places where there is dust and of all the places where you have been and there is dust, and you think that this must be unique among them. You think that of all the places that you will go to or go back to, you will never smell this again and you will remember the smell of this dust always.

You will remember the smell and you will remember the rough, dry, scaly-ness of it on your arms and you hands and the sharp sting of it in your eyes and the cracking flakiness of it mixed with the sweat in your hair. You will remember the taste of it in your mouth and the sound when it grinds between your teeth and the heaviness of it in your spit. You will remember this dust and you will take the memory of it wherever you go. You will compare other dusts to your memory of this dust and you know nothing will quite be the same as it. Maybe one day you will become nostalgic for it.

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