Hi guys. First things first: congratulations for choosing Madagascar!! You are now roaming in the magical island that changed my life. For details of the story, please ask Micah, I am sure he knows. Also, it is 1 A.M. in China now, and my brain is calling a strike. (lol)
While you guys are there, please enjoy everything you see, hear, smell, touch, do, and feel, which I am sure you all will. Of course, I envy the fact that you are on a much longer journey than the one I have been. I have no idea what I am saying right now, and although 1 A.M. is not my latest record at all, I feel like I need to sleep.
So, here I will share with you the article I wrote a while ago, after I returned from Mcar. Hope you find resonance in it. Also, don’t be too picky over the diction and syntax. I will never judge your Chinese in return.
This is an article dedicated to answer Micah’s question: What is Madagascar. I have thought a lot about it but never put it into words. Hopefully, this belated response captures the heart of my memory and resonates with those of everyone who respects and loves the country truly.
When our flight landed in Tana, Madagascar was cloaked in mystical darkness. The millions of stars above sent off weak twinkles, as if they were flashlights signaling from the opposite end of a long tunnel. Yellow lamps glowed singly in front of a group of houses, like unconnected Polynesian islands marked in a navigation chart, echoing with the lights from afar. I thought, sitting behind the stained window of a taxi brousse, that Madagascar was a network of stars that accidentally fell on earth.
On the way up to Analamanga, the sacred hill in downtown Tana, people sat outside their houses, simply gazing. I felt time melting in their deep brown eyes, melting in the undulating sunlight that polished their chocolate skin with pearly sweat, melting in their movements in slow-motion. I thought Madagascar was the unhurriedness that billowed in a slow pot of heated water, quivered in a breeze, shed in tender stares.
From Antsirabe to Morondava, as our crowded bus winded its way along a dry, low hill, Madagascar was out there, unreserved, a never-ending stream of baked, red earth, peppered with yellow grass that tangled in clusters.
Looking into the distance from a balcony during the day, Madagascar was a sea of small houses that glittered like shattered glass.
It was the choga-choga of a hand-pulled posy-posy running on dirt roads.
It was the prayer buzzing in cold morning air, the miraculously pitch-perfect chorus by a church of over two hundred people.
It was a lemur in the rainforest, a lemur on a double-collared T-shirt, one sewn on a postcard that was mistaken for a wolf.
It was a neat pile of brakes, lying on a rice field, naked in the sun.
It was the last ray of orange sunset that lingered upon the queen’s palace, that solidified into the permanence time, washed off by its fleetness.
It was an ink-green mountain on a cloudy day, suggesting you with all its might that you shall clear your earthly mind care-free and pursue all the sublimity nature has to offer; it was also the mesmerizing ribbon of rice paddies beneath the mountain that said, without the humanly concerns, its casual beauty would never exist at all.
It rang like water when ladies did their laundry by a quiet, muddy river, and broke and popped like flickering flames.
It hid in the dense, black hair of a little girl dressed in pink, and was comforted when her sister ran a comb through.
It smelled like stacked pineapples, ripe papayas, bananas that were as long as an index finger.
It bloomed with a smile when a young man passed by and said, “Salama.”
It was infused in the shadows of farmers working their fields, of women selling vegetables in the market, of children cooking, of diamond-shaped kites cutting the wind.
It awoke to the crow of roosters and slept under a bright moon.
It came to my dreams every night.
(Never forget to say: MAZOTOE!!!)
(Have a good time guys.)