Shanghai

Ordinary Lives, Extraordinary People

Tonight

I’m in a city of 14.50 million

souls. I know no-one

here. I’m a nano-human, a speck

in the smog. I make myself big

riding the subways with no-one

with light-coloured hair. No-one notices

the gweilo; the ghost-person, I think,

until I step into the deluge at Shanghai

Library, and a dark-haired

girl steps in time beside me, her umbrella

banishing the rain, her words, my ghostliness

“Where are you going?

Can I take you there?”

***

“They’re irresponsible”, my husband says, “sending you there on your own.“

“It’ll be fine. I’ll be careful”, I say. I have an unspoken list of no-go countries for work, but China’s not one of them; my 8-year-old self has waited a lifetime for this. From a young age through most of my teens my dreamscapes were exotic places far from my home in Africa, in particular, somewhere intoxicating called the Far East. There…

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