Bit By Bit


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.

25 Responses to “Bit By Bit”

  1. TheMadHouse Says:

    I really feel for you, I think these things have a great effect on everyone. I have my own outpost albeit in the middle of suberbia

  2. Iota Says:

    I feel for you too. It’s really tough to have to create a complete life for yourself, with so few props and so little supporting cast.

  3. Lyn Says:

    Your isolations is palpable in this post. You have a way of channeling your ponderings into awesome writing. I feel for you though … thanks for sharing your journey with those of us on the other side of the world.

  4. Nicola Says:

    Such an eloquent description of loneliness. I feel it. I identify, although on a completely different plane. So sorry to hear about your dog. That’s a big hole to come home to.

    Beautiful, beautiful writing.

    And thank you so much for your comment. Imagining my boys towering above me…able to lift me, smother me…made me really laugh in almost disbelief. They still seem so small, so fragile, so vulnerable. I hate to wish away their childhood – but it will be a happy day when they drape their arms around my shoulders and I have to look up at them to share a smile. Thank you for your kindness.

  5. Carol Says:

    Sorry- hope new puppy is some consolation. Had various friends trying to sell me labs for you this weekend. And it is so wet in Gilgil. Talk soon, lots of love

  6. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    thank you. thank you all for your words and your kindness. they help to fill a swallowing void. you think you can prepare for loneliness. but you can’t. i nap now. every afternoon. i lie star-spread on a hot bed and will an hour’s respite from wondering what to do next. my grandfather – though – advocated afternoon siestas. perhaps he knew that long lonely african days were best managed if you escaped briefly. x

  7. nappyvalleygirl Says:

    I think you’re very brave. I feel like that sometimes, especially now both boys are at school all day, and I’m living in the very populated Northeast of America. Congratulations on getting the commissions though – I always feel I have more focus when I have work going on, although for me that is thin on the ground at the moment!

  8. Mary Says:

    I am sure you will love your new pup. I have found the “old” dogs are never forgotten. Loneliness is just terrible, worse when it is not because of anything you did. You are a very good jeweler and I hope you can loose yourself in your beautiful creations. (Formerly Theory a Day). Keep on.

  9. Natacha Says:

    Hi, I have a strong connection to Africa, two of our four children were adopted from South Africa. I am Dutch, but I live in Luxembourg. And I feel lonely today, because our oldest son went to college yesterday. I cried the whole afternoon. It is so hard to let them go!
    I love your blog and will come back several times this week to read your older posts.
    Warm regards,

  10. nuttycow Says:

    I’m all for naps – great things 🙂 and you’re right, they do help break up the time a bit.

    How’s Hat getting on at school? Is she enjoying it?

    A puppy will never replace Kanga but, as you say, it will help (and I’m sure will be a blessing for Scally to have a playmate again).

    Love to all.

  11. MapesburyMum Says:

    The days can be long and lonely in the concrete jungle too. Everyone’s at work or at school…..I too find solace in 4 legged friends – a good excuse for going out and fellow dog walkers are someone to talk to! Us humans are a funny species and I can set my watch as to who I will see at what time on my wanders! Am glad you’ve got some commissions – let us know where!

  12. R. Sherman Says:

    Adjusting to new circumstances is always difficult. Yet, your resilience shines through your posts. Believe it or not, you are an inspiration.


  13. DeeZee Says:

    Jambo Memsahib — greetings from Georgia (US)

    I enjoy reading your blog. You stir my nostalgia for Tanganyika. After WWII my Dad was stationed at Dar and I attended boarding schools in Mbeya, Kongwa and Iringa before going to college back in Scotland (1962).

    Hakuna Matata — Doug

  14. nmaha Says:

    Loneliness is a horrible opponent. Napping is an acceptable afternoon solution. I suffered from horrible loneliness four long years. Now I’m physically not alone, however, I’m still mentally alone except when my baby is with me. I dread the day when she goes off to college and I have to live that socially bereft life again.

    Sorry to be so long-winded, just trying to let you know that I have a small idea of what you are going through.

  15. Family Affairs Says:

    Thinking of you and your gorgeous writing – well done to your son. How fab. Lx

  16. Rebecca Says:

    You translate the misery of loneliness into lovely words that brighten your readers’ lives. I hope that your world brightens soon. And that it rains.
    I ‘lost’ both my girls this weekend – one married, the other to university. Thank heavens for memories.

  17. kathleen Says:

    Hello RM, glad to hear and see from you again. So sorry about Kanga pets are such good companions and are missed so much when gone. I am newly unemployed, trying to fill my days is a new experience. There is so much to do but I am used to a much more controlled environment, it feels strange. Lonely in a way because I have always had large groups of people to react with. Your writing is as eloquent as ever.

  18. Marianne Says:

    What a moving post. So sad, but good to hear there will be a new puppy soon to divert and distract you. Something for the visiting children to love and enjoy too. Hope you have a wonderful time with them and carry on holding it all together, bit by bit.

  19. sarah Says:

    beautiful, eloquent writing. blessings to you.

  20. Mwa Says:

    I hope you win the battle with the void. You write about it beautifully so that I can almost physically feel the loneliness.

  21. Grouse Says:

    Painful, but beautiful, absorbing, permeating-the-skin writing.

  22. Addy Says:

    I feel for you having lost Kay to uni and and Greg to life in the space of six months. Hang on in there. My Al-anon group tells me to take one day at a time. Your bit by bit, sounds a similar and sound philosophy.

  23. | Blog | Bit By Bit Says:

    […] […]

  24. Cheryl Cato Says:

    Dogs are such a necessity to keep us sane and less lonely. I’m down to one, my dear Gertie, she does make me laugh and we cuddle. Transitions are sometimes devastatingly lonely, but somehow we most often are able to transcend the moment, day, week… I’m glad your children have come for a visit. Enjoy the time.

  25. Pili « Reluctant Memsahib Says:

    […] She would love to chase Scal around the garden, Scal who isn’t as outraged as Moshi but is a little nervous of the newcomer so not ready to be chased, she hasn’t bought me back any of the flamboyant pods I throw for her but my, she makes me laugh. […]

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