Poor Connection

I went out into the darkness with Abbas and sat next to him on the step of the shrine while a bunch of hyenas stared at us expectantly. So many unfamiliar hyena faces; it’s amazing how much things have changed. I’ll talk at length about who is still around and who is missing in another post but first, my reunion with Willi.
Some tourists arrived in a taxi and gathered in front of the shrine while Abbas sat in the headlights as usual, handing food to the hyenas. After a few people had a go at feeding Abbas picked up the basket and took it to the step of the shrine to feed from there. He looked past me and said, ‘Marcos, Willi’, while pointing behind me, so I turned to see a large hyena standing beside the shrine. His head and body were so big and his face changed so it was hard for me to recognise him. I hoped he’d recognise me so I said his name a few times while he approached. But he was fixated on the food bucket; the only attention he paid me was when he was beside me and close. The big hyena looked at me and I watched as his nostrils flared in and out while he took a big whiff of whatever is my scent. After that he went over to Abbas, scored some food, at one point standing behind Abbas with a paw on each of the hyena man’s shoulders accepting food held over Abbas’ head. And after the feeding he left. That’s it.
The thing is… the really great thing is, it wasn’t Willi. I’m not very good with hyena spots – i normally go by faces, behaviour, body shape and ear notches so when Abbas pointed out Willi I wasn’t certain it was him. He had some stripey spots on his rump and a faded looking series of dots on the other side that kind of looked like Willi’s but when I compared a photo of this hyena and Willi, they didn’t match. Abbas had been away from the feeding for several months back in 2011 so when Yusuf handed him the feeding maybe he must have just guessed which hyena was Willi. So it was indeed a hyena called Willi that I saw but not the Willi that I knew. Meanwhile Yusuf knows my Willi has disappeared and he told me as much last night.
So, a big disappointment that night but somehow uplifting. I like to imagine that if that hyena was the Willi I knew, he would have looked at me once, taken a big whiff and proceeded to finish the job of tearing apart my jacket. I can let go of the profound disappointment I felt when the ‘other’ Willi ignored me in favour of some entrails. And I can finally put away my worn, hyena-chewed jacket which I’ve hung onto for two years in the hope that things might somehow remain unchanged..

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2 thoughts on “Poor Connection

  1. This is a very sad post. But as you say yourself, this is the life and way of the hyenas; things never remain unchanged. Which gives one all the more reason to cherish every moment, and makes the memories all the sweeter, and yes, sadder, but that is a price one has to pay. But don’t give up hope yet. Maybe Willi is going to show up after all. Words fail me at this point, I’m sorry. I would say something more, but I can’t, and maybe I don’t have to. I know I’m just a random commenter to you, but know that I, too, shall remember Willi with fondness.

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