Home, away from home

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It is Monday morning and well past the Sunday mid night deadline given to me by David, our "supreme guide", and the WPI executive director, to write this blog. See, for days on end I have been agonizing about what to write about my stay in the US so far-not because there is nothing to write home about but because there are so many titillating topics to chose from. Initially, I wanted to write about the US and its unusual consumer behavior or the warm reception accorded to us by the residents of Ely on a bitingly cold summer last week. However my colleagues Yulia from Ukraine and Priya from India scooped me on both topics. Touche! And thus for days I anguished whether I would get another good enough topic to write about. I didn't want to write just another blog, but a good blog. A perfect blog. And that is the curse of some of us, I guess. As if he had an inkling of my predicament, David reminded me on Sunday morning that I had to submit my blog by Sunday mid night, just as we were about to hit the road this morning to Shetek, southern Minnesota. As I sat in lone silence at the back of our van biting my nails as I thought of an appropriate topic, the lush farmlands of southern Minnesota came in to view and I found my self transported across the seas and the oceans, thousands of miles away to the small village where I was born- the essence of my being. The green farms in the plains of southern Minnesota could easily have been the lush and rolling plains of my home county, Uasin Gishu, Kenya, where I grew up as a young boy. The maize farms, or the corn fields as they call them here, reminded me of the times when I used to hide between in them as we played hide-and-seek with my cousins. Minnesota's acres upon acres of soy bean could have been Uasin Gishu's acres upon acres of wheat, which my uncle farmed and which formed the economic backbone of my extended family. We went to a farm today and I saw a beautiful herd of cattle and the memories of herding my grandfather's cattle with my cousins all those years ago flooded back in torrents. Oh, the feeling of fresh dug soil, the smell of manure, the strong pungent of chemicals and fertilizer, of the musty cow dung and the memories of stubborn goats defying the orders of angry, hungry young boys! Oh! When we took the dirt road to Shetek amidst miles and miles of the greenery of maize and soy beans I felt the prodigal son lost to the city ways coming back home. Far, far from the madding city crowds and the rat race of urban existence, I found myself totally at peace with myself and with my fellow man (and women) in these calming green fields. In the two weeks I have been here I have been to more lakes than I have ever been before in my life. Minnesota, after all, is the state of 10,000 lakes! However, though I enjoy the lake once in a while back home, I have never really been a water person at heart. I am at home when my feet are firmly on dry land. "Your hands have grown soft," my uncle, the patriarch of our family used used to say whenever he heard that I had declined to drive his ancient Ford tractor. "I am a journalist not a farmer," I would think in my head, but not tell him. But for the first time in years I was on a tractor yesterday and I felt a rush that I only felt when I first drove his ancient Ford all by my self those years ago when I was a teenager coming of age. Even the darkness falls here as it does at home in Uasin Gishu- heavy, complete and absolute. The magic of rediscovering your faith in a long lost love, you can say. Well, It is exactly 1. 49 a.m when I am posting this blog at the Lutheran Retreat Centre in Shetek, in rural Minnesota. I am behind deadline by centuries. But my heart is glad. I am glad that I have not had to write about the paralyzing sterility of urban living or some other story that makes me wish to be ran over by a combine harvester. Nothing, I tell you my friends, is better than the story of earth, manure, cows and corn. As I write this, outside my window, in the dead of the night, I hear the crickets singing their strange songs. Not a car honking to drop off some night owl. My heart is at peace. I will sleep well. I am home.