Welcome to JP Melville's review, experience, and statement on foreign aid and the international development industry. A conservative faith in family. A love affair riding the riotous tensions between money, personal freedom, the majestic travesty of our specie's ecological footprint, and economic politics. Selected writing of both prose and poetry, anecdotal travel log to rhetorical essay, dating back from the 1980's to the present. Enjoy!

Friday, 23 November 2012


I remember a work trip.  Called field work.  Or a site visit.  Or rapid rural appraisal.
What I remember…
Four or five days of passing faces, passing places.  This preceded by months of planning.  This preceded by years of education.  All long gone now.
What is it that I wish to recall?
I do not know.
So I shout.  Loudly.  I shout into the wilderness of my memory.  And I find myself slipping dangerously into the arms of a flowing collage...
An afternoon.  A roadside village.  Table in front of a small wooden hut.  Thatched roof overhead.  Heat.  Anaesthetic wind caressing.
Three of us.  Myself, a friend, a woman, laughing.  All of us squinting at sunlight pounding into the thick green of a banana grove, ignoring the dust billowing up from occasional motorcycles rattling by.  We are drinking whisky, soda water, over ice.  Afterwards, I fall off my own motorcycle.  Slipped sideways in the sand.  A burnt foot from the muffler.  I get up.  Go on.
We are eating the goat meat with the men in the village, laughing as a knife slipped small pieces of raw liver away from the carcass, each of us taking and chewing and exclaiming.  Sweet milky wine chased by shots of clear whisky, voices, meat pounded raw in blood and salt, and the blind man's fingers, his breath, his body droning through the reeded pipes he played and dull pounding pounding drumming hands bodies in a circle the floor dull blooded heated drumming afternoon arms and bodies rising falling bodies sweat... a god forsaken sickness the day following.
Yet, again drinking whisky, this time with coffee, talking with the old man in his garden.  Watching through his memory's eyes.  His hands shaking as he lit a cigarette, stories of people, places, praising the children, and stopping to call, "Come here little Nana!"  A little girl came running to his outstretched hands.  This old man a Jesuit.  Once upon a long long time ago from some other land.  Now with his whisky and coffee.  Two hands holding the face and smiling at little Nana.
Then, on the back of a motorcycle, too drunk to drive, winding on a mountain road, hours passing by, sunlight spattering through the trees, buffalo in sparkling river waters, wind, heat, and later, watching the stars with head tilted back, then a bed, heat, darkness, overcome and dissolving into writhing sexuality.
Images photographed inside my head, eyes smouldering deep somewhere inside a camera but seeing places that were not there.  Incidents which are images.  But it was supposed to be real.  I was there.

Third World Development.
Stages of take-off.
Progressive farmers.
Poorest of the poor.
Structural readjustment.
Appropriate technology.
Micro credit.

Words and language degraded into Babel.


“Has anything changed!”

The words slip from my tongue.  An echo of emptiness bouncing back.


No comments:

Post a Comment