Supper’s been eaten, the dishes have been cleared away, the women are doing the washing up and the menfolk gather on the porch at the end of the day to discuss matters of great import and moment. It’s an archetypal scene that could be played out in a million towns in a hundred countries on every continent.

Maybe a day will come when it’s the women on the porch and the men doing the washing up. Or maybe some day there won’t be any distinction about who does what. But for now the weight of tradition (and the slow settling of the evening meal) keeps the men firmly anchored out front. And there’s a strange comfort in it, a timeless quality, an air of nostalgia that smells faintly of late night old movies that nobody watches anymore.

What are they talking about, the men on the porch? It doesn’t matter. It’s as inconsequential as the dialogue of those old movies. After a bit one of the women will come to the door and call them back inside. And they’ll rise slowly and pass into the lighted rooms, leaving the porch, and the night will be filled with the songs of crickets.

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