Brigitte watches her mother swat at a mosquito sending ashes from her cigarette into her coarse gray hair. She’s smoked it past the filter, an orange nub in her fingers the size of a peanut. She’s always been this way, siphoning the last dab of nicotine out of every inch of a cigarette. Brigitte has never understood this.
On the day I was born, the air was a supple stew—heavy with overripe fruit and armpits, ocean salt, and slow-roasted goat meat. Of course, I don’t remember that day, but I was born in the Tanzanian city of Dar es Salaam—just ‘Dar’ to the locals—and the viscosity of the air is the first thing that visitors remark on. It is what they remember most.