You gotta love Oxfam.
And when you gotta go, you gotta go.
And by slightly lopsided syllogism –- although no more warped than anything else in the nearly surreal world of North Darfur – when you gotta go, you gotta love Oxfam!
Oxfam is responsible for building several hundred pit toilets, distributed throughout the grid of the vast, sprawling Abu Shouk refugee camp and easily identified by their matching blue tarpaulin wrappers. While this represents but an infinitesimal slice of the humanitarian burden Oxfam has shouldered in response to the Darfur genocide and the massive relocation of population it has occasioned, it was at the heart of my appreciation for this amazing organization the afternoon that natured called.
Arrayed before me were three, beautiful blue mini-mazes of blue plastic, each vacant, mine for the choosing. And by some minor miracle, I was alone – the ever-present flock of children, screaming “Khawaja, OK!” at maximum amplitude, had somehow vanished into the desert sands. I would be able to have a nice, calm, quiet squat.
I checked the first stall. Pleasant. Tastefully decorated in an austere, functional modernism, devoid of unnecessary ornament or decoration other than, perhaps, the banally postmodernist blue walls. But there was another unfortunate, and equally colorful feature: dung flies. Millions of spangly, emerald-bodied creatures, buzzing merrily amid droppings that somehow evaded the hole in the earth. Call me an antiseptic-loving American, but I had no desire to bare my bum to a million shit-eating bugs.
So I looked into the second cubicle. Same décor, same inhabitants. This time there were a billion of them. Yikes!
Same deal behind door number three, only here there were a zillion dung flies!
Choosing the lesser of the perceived evils – the math was blessedly easy – I retreated to the million-fly enclosure and dropped trow. In an instant, the jewel-like creatures were swarming my ass.
Experience was once again my teacher and, in the sincere hope that you will not repeat my crucial error, I humbly offer the advice I’d wished someone had given me. I venture to guess that you will not find this vital information anywhere in the feckless mainstream media, or even elsewhere in the much-ballyhooed blogosphere, where guys with no real life are busy revealing the last secrets of the universe and the Bush Administration. My recommendation is in two parts.
First, please give generously to Oxfam and the other International NGOs who work tirelessly, and at great personal risk, in times of humanitarian crisis. They are there for the surviving victims of the genocide in Darfur – and they were there for me in my admittedly insignificant, but momentarily preoccupying, time of need.
Second, by all means, chose the zillion-fly latrine. Who knew that all those tickly little wings would feel so nice!