15 March 2015

Remembering Home, Remembering You

I remember the sun peeking over the horizon as if it was scared of announcing a new day. But already the light of its glory has set the sky on fire and the day has begun. The rooster crows in agreement and I lie in bed, this feeling of deliciousness inside me. The joy at being alive, of being here, inhabiting this space, this time, being home. Outside, the dew covers the delicate fronds of grass and hangs from the rose petals, a delicate beauty dripping like diamonds from the soft pink of the buds.

I remember that beauty. Beauty of the garden I kept myself, worked every Saturday to water and mulch. I remember the stark blue of the sky in winter. Cloudless and stretching like the mind of God to the ends of the world as I lay in the grass watching it. Innocent. Guileless. Clueless. My world was limited to the borders of the city I had been born in, Bulawayo: the place of killing. I began each day as I always did; a bowl of porridge. On a good day, with a tablespoon of peanut butter and generous amounts of sugar. I never understood those who put butter in their porridge, I was always a peanut butter guy. I haven't had porridge in almost ten years.

I remember the avenues of Bulawayo lined with jacaranda's in October. That is the image most tourists have in their heads, the image that a quick Google search will give to you: streets covered in a carpet of purple, drops of perfume falling from the trees to the ground where they lay waiting to be squished by the wheels of cars or your feet as you passed by on your way to the shops to buy a loaf of steaming fresh bread from the Hot Bread Shop. But an image less know about is an image of the Flamboyants that bloom in early summer and explode in a red as deep as the eyes of the setting sun. Some are isolated trees, lost amongst the crows of the Jacaranda's, but some are armies that line Cecil Avenue on it's way to meet Hillside Road, standing guard over the narrow road like loyal red sentinels watching over you as you pass by.

"Loyal red sentinels watching over you as you pass by..."
(c) Mrs P. Wise
I remember my first high school. Nestled deep in the heart of Makokoba, its green solitary field, an emerald that I told myself would one day watch as I played soccer to the applause of a cheering crowd. That never happened. Instead I lost myself in the brown face brick buildings, discovering science and literature and a world I had never imagined existed. Hard working men and women showing up every morning to make sure one thousand children each got an education that would arm them for a life in a country that was beginning its slow decline into madness. But what did I know of that? For me life was scrunching up my noise on days when the sewage in Mazaye decided to smell and waft into our Maths class as we tried to concentrate hard on these things called variables. Or the smell of incense during mass at school that made me wonder if God smelt like that; mysterious, stuffy and holy.

I remember you. Remember the force of your being, the beauty of your soul. The way we laughed all day never once thinking that it would all end. Remember the way you and I walked through the streets of that City we both called home, looking for what it was we did not know. But perhaps it was just looking for the happiness of existing in each other's world, sharing the space that Universe had loaned us, given to us and whispered softly that she would take it back one day. But we never heard her did we? We walked carelessly past the white splendour that was City Hall, sat our buttocks on the hard pavements as we waited for our kombi to go home, the squalid beauty that was the flea market with old women selling tomatoes. The freshest tomatoes in the world they said, the most beautiful, juiciest and reddest of them all: all for just two dollars. Two dollars only. I would give every dollar I had to have those days back.

I remember Christmas. No, nothing like the spectacular December lights on the Champs Elysée in Paris. Nothing fancy that sparkled in the flash of tourist camera's and makes them catch their breath. More humble, more basic; static lights stretched over Gwanda Road, all the way past the greens of Centenary Park, in the shape of a fat Santa, reindeer and spelling out Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Or perhaps it was one of the Christmas' I spent in the village with my gogo, the smell of the manure that was used to create the hard floor of the huts fading more and more into the background as each day passed. I regret never having milked the cows, never having carried a bucket of creamy milk to gogo milked by my own hands and waiting for her to congratulate me in Sotho, a language that I still do not understand.

"I will be lucky enough to go and live out those memories waiting to happen..."
Source: RedJBishop
It's funny no? One regrets the things one never did. I don't regret the day I froze in front of the entire school when I was supposed to give a prayer. I don't regret the friends I made who would later leave me, the days I spent carved into the hard stone of my memory that I will pass my hands over till the day I die. Instead one regrets the roads untravelled, the sights unseen, the words unsaid said to you. But perhaps one day I will be lucky enough to go and live out those memories waiting to happen. Add them to my memories of a City that calls out to me in my dreams, whispers to me in my days and says only one word, a simple word that tugs on my heart with such force I fear it will break.


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