Every morning it was her job to bring water to wash, to mix with meal to make flat bread and to drink. She followed the trail up and over the small ridge that shrouded and protected the homesite from an open range scoured by the wind. The path had been created by countless years of bare feet. Her grandmother and mothers before… and after her, likely a daughter’s; the child she would bear before long. Barely a teen she was of age for a husband. It would be soon.
It was not what she wished for. The missionary had taught her to read before she died. And the traders had left a few books. Some with pictures of a world and life she could not fathom. Seeing them… reading the words left her changed with a vague feeling of discontent.
It was quiet and cool by the river. There in the still sleeping darkness before the heat of the sun–she felt it already on her back as she descended the bank–burned it away. She paused for a moment but couldn’t take more time than what was expected. She thought of how the missionary had told her of cities and faraway lands. Of the world and how large it was. With a sigh she didn’t realize had come from her, she stooped to fill her jug.
The sun, higher on the horizon, was on her face as she trudged back to her small existence. All that she knew. In that last cool, peaceful, moment she wondered how other girls, in the so very big world, started their days.
Take a walk down by, take a walk down by the river.
There’s a lot that you, there’s a lot that you can learn.
If you’ve got a mind, that’s open, if you’ve got a heart that yearns.
–From Traffic, Hidden Treasure