I was sitting in the back of the minibus on my way from Machinga (where I live) to Liwonde (the next big town where most things are) a normal 15-20min trip that I take almost every other day. But as we were stopping in a small village 3 Amayis got on the bus, petit serious women with short hair, imported T shirts advertising foreign brands and local events in English, wrapped in their chitenjis (2 yards of fabric). From their eyes they will never see the fight that they were born to fight that was speaking so loudly to me on that bus ride. I looked at them and really saw their true bravery and solidarity.
I wondered which one would be pregnant next, who would have pregnancy complications, which one won’t have a skilled attendant at their birth, which one has almost died in childbirth, which one is trapped inside of herself dealing with the fact that sex is demanded of her without consent and without choice of the lives to come from it.
moments marinating in my mind,
love pouring out of me,
connecting to the detached.
Life is precious, and it’s becoming more and more precious everyday I’m here. There is so much I’m adsorbing and its sweet quiet moments like these that sneak into my days that allow me to realize all that I’ve seen.
Malawi hasn’t tugged at my heart like Ecuador or Mexico, where I love it all. There is too much struggle here to fall in love with this life. There is no romance in another death. But my heart has been so filled with admiration for all the immensely powerful Amayis. The Amayi that carries hundreds of pounds of pumpkins in plastic sacks hours on a minibus to sell at market for her family, for the Amayi that hikes 3 hours straight up hill to cut down firewood only to carry the 8ft long logs that I imagine weight 100lbs or more balancing on her head down that same hill to then cook the meal for her large, unplanned family (the fertility rate of Malawi is 7 children/woman!). When I see and an Amayi I will always stop and bow to greet her out of reverence to her thirst for life that I will never tastes. To her powerful feminine power I hope to foster inside of myself. She answers my trivial frustrations, life is worth is all.
The minibus stops again, another Amayi squeezes in and sits next to me with her baby girl slung over her shoulder. I look over at her and those little dark round doe eyes look up at me and she gives me a little smile. My heart swells in an indescribable way and her Amayi laughs with me, a moment never tasted as sweet .
Every woman deserves a choice, a voice, an education, and an empowering birth. Maybe Malawi in all the confusion and waiting and unattractive rawness of life is really just the preparation for my birth, the birth of a more vulnerable, humble, and empathetic self.