The Separation of Oil From Paste
I have visions of rescuing the peanut butter, but there is no time. It pains me to see the oil above the paste, to anticipate the inevitable lump of dry, hard ground nut paste... that is what Ghanaians called it. Women sat in the dark, shaded rows of the market, their knees hugging large aluminum pans of ground nut paste still warm from roasting. Colin finds the increase in fatalities disquieting. I do not have time to stir the oil into the paste and I am frightened by the depth of my depravity.
Condi notes that the agencies had not been set up to share information. It is a structural problem. I cut my hand and cannot leverage the knife against the paste. I want to cry at my pathetic state. I love peanut butter. No one seeing me would know that. All that can be seen is a woman who was late before she got out of bed, who cannot stop to rescue peanut butter in her econo-prep and dash to work.
I was rescuing Rwandans from poor sanitary conditions when Debbie looked into my eyes. She saw me stir the peanut butter and knew that I was the incarnation of her boyfriend, whose post I had come to fill. Inexplicably, I was the incarnation of Jack who was not dead, but had left for the States with his promise to return. Debbie observed the sureness of my movements, rotating the jar, while turning the paste into the oil on the blade of a knife, just as Jack had done. She knew he would come for her.
Too often, now, I jab my knife into hardened chunks of paste. The bottom of another jar that I failed to move quickly enough to save. Condi says there is no way anyone could have done anything to stop it. Even the contents of the PDB are insignificant. The health and social benefits of PB are invaluable to me: a reliable source of cheap protein, memories of bygone Peace Corps days, of days when I took time to rescue not only the jar, but whole human beings. There is content in PB, but nothing that helps me escape my pitiful state.
Condi says she did not personally have any specific information. Nor do I. I feel many things as I witness the separation of oil from paste, just as Condi must feel witnessing the desiccation of American integrity, but we are not moved to act. Colin says we will stay the course. We will not be dissuaded by higher numbers of fatalities.
Nor shall I be dissuaded by jar after jar of wasted peanut butter. This country will never be the same. I can never return to that innocent time when I could afford the leisure to thoroughly mix my ground nut paste. Colin and Condi have made me safer and sacrificing my freedom to stir peanut butter is a small price to pay for the greater good.