Archive for October, 2010


October 31, 2010

So the girls left this morning.

My boy goes the day after tomorrow.

I wanted to wave the girls off. I wanted to press my face to the glass of the departures building. To make sure they were standing in the right queue. I wanted to wave energetically, to blow kisses.

Go Away said the man with the badge. You can’t stand there. You must go. I ignored him. He chased me away in the end so that I had to duck beneath a cordon with everybody watching.

I didn’t care.

I’d taken what I wanted: stolen two whole weeks with the children when we drove across country, spent long but oddly precious hours cocooned in the car together (6 the first day, 5 the 5th, 4 the 6th, 8 on the 10th and 13 yesterday) so that they were all, all, within delicious proximity: to hold, to touch, to watch as they slept, to laugh with, to talk to, to argue with over what music to listen to, to feed.  

We played cards; we drank cokes by hippo slicks so jam packed the knobbly-kneed marabou stork tottered from the back of one to the spine of another like unkepmt old men, stepping stones to soup-thick water bubbling with cat fish; we watched elephants meander through miombo just, just begining to blush green, excited and impatient for imminent rain; we spent four days on an inland sea bejewelled with sunlight and bedecked with cichlids; we ate sushimi (the children for the first time, and with gusto); we kayaked; we swam; we snorkled; we got sunburned; we enjoyed a picnic breakfast in the furthest flung corner where the termites build homes like toadstools and where the tsetse flies bite so hard you’d swear they had teeth.

I wrung every last little drop out of those 16 days. I intend to do the same with the last two with my son.

I shall press my face against the glass on Tuesday. I shall watch to make sure he is in the right queue. I shall wave energetically, I shall blow kisses and the man with the badge can go to hell.



October 17, 2010

They are all here. All three of them. Three plus two makes five.

A FullFatFive. For two whole satiating weeks. Sixteen sleeps I tell myself.

First my son.

And then my girls.

They had to rendezvous in London and navigate their way through Terminal Five.

I – mobile phone clutched in sweaty palm – fretted: would they manage? Would they lose their passports? Miss their flight? Board the wrong one? Get distracted in Accessorize, at Smiths? Go to sleep?!

My daughters tickle my worrisome Achilles Tendon.

I’ve lost Hat. Gaaaaaaaaaaagh. She was here just now. I swear it. Hahahahahaha

And the following morning as I drive the six hours to meet them at the airport:

Cairo? Cairo! How the crap did that happen.

And then they surface, from the belly of too long international travel: nine hours on a long haul, a three hour layover, an hour’s domestic.

They emerge as two tall and beautiful and they gather me up and they laugh.

And we drive the six hours home and they tell me that it is wonderful to be back. In Africa. Stories of school spill and Hat says, ‘shall I tell you about House Music now? Shall I tell you about everybody in my dorm next?’ And she does and then suddenly falls silent and I glance in the rear view mirror and see a girl who is sound asleep. Curled into a seat that doesn’t properly accommodate too long legs so that they tangle with her sister’s.

And I think. Give them wings.

So that they can fly home.

Bit By Bit

October 10, 2010


The Outpost has teeth.

I can feel them beneath bare,  skin-made-soft-after-weeks-of-unfamiliar-shoesandsocks,  feet when I venture outside.   My kind, damp April lawn is cruelly spiked and jaundice yellow. Brief, short, sad walks. Scally follows me. Close to heel. We both give the gentle mound in a shaded corner of the garden a wide, teary berth. There is a stick to mark where Kanga’s lovely head must lie.

Had she been here she’d have raced Scally. She’d have bought me a flamboyant pod as a present. She’d have made me laugh. Had she been here, the ominous enormity of this place in the absence of away-at-boarding-school-Hat would have been less overwhelming.

The Outpost glowers with imminent-please-God-will-it-come-soon rain and when it’s not darkly doing that it glares hotly.

It’s a less friendly place than the one I left.

I hide inside. Scal beneath my desk. Feigning sleep because she doesn’t know what else to do. I don’t either really but have commissions which, thankfully, lend direction to flailing days, beg my attention. And filing. Always filing. It might be the first time in my life I have not minded its untidy-spilling-from-a-pending-tray nagging.

I won’t let it beat me though. The insane solitariness of my Outpost existence.

I have placed my rewards before me as stepping stones to a way out:

My son home for a brief spell before he heads off to Make His Fortune

My girls home for a two week midterm break

A new puppy who will not be Kanga but whom we will love and who will fill a gap. She will race Scal around the garden. She will bring me a flamboyant pod as a present. She will make me laugh.  Her presence will help to shrink this intimidating space, quiet its rattling silence.

And so I will have the courage to set my shoulder square to the Outpost’s leaning oppression and I will thumb my nose at the loneliness.

Bit by bit. That’s what I’ll do.

Bit by bit.