Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Invigorating and Slightly Surreal Adventures of Medhi – Explorer Extraordinaire

Medhi taxied down the empty runway. The harsh equatorial sun beat down on the back of his neck, but he didn’t care. The sea breezes swirled his hair, filling his nostrils with the smell of salt. He dipped his right wing and veered hard to the left (Medhi was not very good with directions). Of course, he wasn’t in a plane. There hadn’t been a plane on Nauru since the bank had repossessed the small island’s last aircraft several months ago. For now, Medhi was the plane. He would soon stop, though. Running up and down the tarmac was tiring, even for a 747. Until then, he soared past the parliament building, the police station, and other such important structures. From an altitude of several thousand feet, Medhi peered down at the offices of Nauru’s struggling government.
Several minutes later, after the plane had been left on the runway, the great Spaceman Medhi landed his rocket on the moon. They had told him not to play in the phosphate wasteland, but great space explorers aren’t deterred by such negative attitudes. The twisted expanse stirred strange ideas in his head. Out here, in the wasteland, anything could happen.
Sadly, it didn’t. The intrepid space explorer Medhi spent a happy hour or so hiding from aliens until he became hungry. Technically he already was; people generally were on Nauru. He was just more so than usual. But, unlike most, he knew where to find food.
The camp had been established by Australia for asylum seekers (mainly Iraqi) several years back. The Australians had hung around until there was a riot then left the camp to whoever would take it, sending halfhearted shipments of comestibles when they bothered to remember. The asylumees quickly claimed administration of the camp, becoming, in effect, independent. This was not important, of course. What mattered was that security wasn’t tight enough to prevent a hungry nine-year old from swiping what food he needed. Good news for Medhi.
Even if his parents were still alive, chances are good that they wouldn’t have jobs. And even if they did, chances are good that they wouldn’t be paid. Foreign aid was the crutch that kept Nauru from collapsing on itself.
Medhi headed back to the Yaren district. Maybe a ship would arrive soon. Ships were always good because they sometimes had of supplies. Like clothes. Medhi needed a new shirt, his was torn and threadbare. The same could be said for pants. And shoes wouldn’t be bad either. He still had that cut on his foot from last week. It was getting black and icky. He reached down to pick at it some more. That always helped.
Sadly, no ship showed up. Medhi spent the rest of the day idling along the coast, looking out at the sea. It was strange. So much water, and yet it was not good to drink. That was something else he needed – fresh water. He sat on the beach and watched the sun set, imagining he was out there on a boat. After dark, he found his way to the ramshackle house that had served as his home for as long as he could remember. As he fell asleep, Medhi wondered if perhaps life could be better. No matter. He would be up bright and early to wander through the streets looking lost, then he roam among the coconut trees. Tomorrow was another big day.

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