You know you’re home
…because of the way a rising sun bleeds a deep scarlet high up into the clouds where you’re British Airways suspended and reminds you you’re African dawn bound, because of the way it collapses to powder blue with just the trace of pink blush too quickly for you to catch it on camera.
… Because bloody Im-Precision Air demands you pay for excess baggage on 4Kg. And with a cursory glance at the scales and absolutely no indication of any kind of a calculation knows just how much you have to pay. Too much: more than you have in your purse. They accept the little you do have. Which leaves you with precisely (the only precise thing about the morning) nothing to buy your hot, cross, tired daughter a coke when your flight is delayed. And then they refuse to issue you with a receipt; they tell you that the paltry amount you have tended will not cover the paper it is written on. Even though it would have bought a generous round of cokes for every other hot, cross, tired passenger in the Departure Lounge when take-off is, predictably and with no explanation why, delayed.
… Because the dogs smile broadly at your arrival and – needily – will not leave your side for days.
… Because there is no rain, only highbluewhite skies as we tumble into our African winter – a misnomer; it is merely mildly less hot than our summer. You’re still in shorts. With sheep skin slippers early in the morning so that bare feet are protected from cold stone floors. It’s an unusual combo. But then again so are Ugg boots and capri pants a la Sienna Miller.
… Because you’re swimming again. Not at dawn. The water is too African-winter-night-time icy for that. Late in the evening when it has warmed just a little but not so much that you swim any way but as fast as you can so that soon you are breathing hard and your arms ache from ploughing through vodka-on-the-rocks clear water.
… Because when you go shopping you don’t dawdle down wide throated aisles wondering, and wandering, aimlessly at the 55 different breakfast cereals on offer. You just buy what Kaidi has – Kellogg’s Cornflakes – and hope they aren’t stale.
… Because you cannot hear the early morning departure of commuters. Only the insistent cackle of indignant guinea fowl and the melancholy hooting of trains as they rumble by distantly.
… Because you can see the night sky. The sputtering glow of a thousand stars bright against a deep velvet night whose richness has not been leached by a neon glow, because you can watch the moon rise: amber, honeyed it slides up and hangs all night like a reading lamp so bright you wonder who left outside lights on.
… Because even though you promised yourself you wouldn’t feel lonely, you do. Even though you told yourself that five weeks of Busy, five weeks of Total Immersion in the Real World, Five Weeks of Social Feast would sustain you through impending famine, would render you gracious under the scrutiny of barefaced isolation, it doesn’t.
How could it: it only reminds you what you’re missing.
So you pour yourself a very cold beer and you watch the sky and you smile at red eyed shrikes gorging on voluptuously plump, pink-fleshed guava and you Count Your Blessings like your mother taught you to.