This is a story of surprising friendship.
Somehow in the last few weeks, the town goat boy, his goats, and my cat have become friends. I would include myself in the mix, but really I am just the cookie-giver, photo-taker, and giggling observer to this motley crew.
Each day in the afternoon, goat boy takes his 12 goats on a walk through town to graze. I know enough kinyarwanda to have discovered his age: 7, and that he goes to school in the mornings over the hill. He knows that I am the white lady who showed up in the house at the crossroads with a cat. This is our extent of knowledge and conversation capacity. But none of that matters. What matters is that Mushu is here and goes out to say, "hello," each afternoon when goat boy and the goats graze by.
Sometimes we sit outside for hours. (Because honestly, there's not much else to do in this town but talk to a cat and goats and smile at a little boy). It makes my heart so full and gives me so much entertainment to watch this trio of living beings interact.
First, goat boy comes running to the gate and yells into my windows, "hello!" or, "ipusi!" (cat). I hear him, and go to the back of the house to get the cookies that I keep just for him. I grab Mushu from wherever he is sleeping, and head out to the gate to pass cookies through the chains and set Mushu down in the grass to see his friends.
The goats slowly realize that Mushu and I have entered our yard, and when they see us, they start to make their way closer. There are a few of the bigger goats who are particularly entranced by Mushu and watch him for long periods of time. I giggle. Goat boy giggles. Mushu stares. The goats stare.
Sometimes Mushu gets close enough to the gate that goat boy can reach through and pet him. He now knows that if he touches Mushu's paws that Mushu might back up out of reach, so he should pet his head or back. Mushu is so friendly and sociable (thankfully) and really likes the attention from goat boy, though he doesn't take his gaze from the goats for very long.
It's our little afternoon routine of friendship.
It's pure and it's sweet and it's one of my favorite things about living in my town.
About once a day, I feel overwhelmed or exasperated by living here at the proverbial semi-end of the earth. Usually when I hear the rats in my ceiling or need to boil water to bathe and get cranky. But then, I remember that if I was placed in a fellowship in a city, Mushu and I wouldn't have goat boy and the goats. And goat boy and the goats wouldn't have us.
Tri-species friendship. It's a thing. Come see us in Eastern Rwanda and laugh and eat cookies with us. No language requirement necessary. Just curiosity and a free afternoon.
walk slow. xoxo.