Full Circle


I keep trying to line up the words. If I line them all up, they’ll make sense. I’ll make sense. Life will make sense.  But life’s full of circles and whirls and knots which is why I can’t regiment my prose tidily. To go back and iron out all the change so that some order is sought would be tortuous. Best to leave it as it is and start again.

We’re moving.

A fourth transAfrican move and a sixth, or is it seventh?, home in less than 18 months. I haven’t unpacked the boxes from the move before last let alone the most recent.

In the beginning, when the possibility of another relocation morphed menacingly as probability, I felt overwhelmed. I was digging down for roots and had begun to excavate the tiniest hole; I knew where to go for cappuccinos and to have my haircut even if I hadn’t made a real live friend.   At least, I ponder now, those early tender, whipthin roots hadn’t got down that far.  They’ll be easy to pull.

Recently, in England (being discombobulated at home makes travel oddly comforting) a taxi driver in whose Hackney cab I sat and patiently listened to stories about his ulcers and his property investments, told me he had lived in the same street in the same town since childhood. Now his children live in the same street in the same town and attend the same school that he did. A tiny little part of me envied his settledness. But a much, much bigger part recoiled.   Aside from the urgency of bleeding ulcers and the excitement of soaring property prices, his life lacked the texture and colour and adventure of mine I thought.

I have itchy feet I observe to Hat one evening as I scrach, she raises an eyebrow, ‘are you surprised?’. And we laugh.

We’re going north again. To Kenya. To a ranch. Where there will be nowhere to drink cappuccino or get my hair done and it won’t matter. For we will be beneath a sprawling African sky where the dust hangs limpid gold in the evening light, where Tolkinesque Baobab hulk on horizons, where acacias reach out fingerlings of shade as if trying to hold hands with a neighbour, where laughing doves chuckle and where we will feel at home.   I grew up not far from the arid country to which we will return, where my grandmother made her own butter and kept it cold in a paraffin fridge; Ant began his working life over the road, on another voluptuously proportioned farm, a fresh-faced 22.

‘It’s like we’ve come full circle’, say the children.  We’ve bumped them about a bit in the last year and they talk of circles as they should be spoken of: reassuring connections.  As if their parents might know what they’re doing.

Let’s hope so.

22 Responses to “Full Circle”

  1. Pene Macadam Says:

    Beautifully written, as always. I’m so glad you’re going ‘home’, as I would class it. Thinking of you and Ant and looking forward to hearing more xxx

  2. Kit Says:

    Good luck with your latest adventure – it does sound like it will be a new home rather than a transitory pause on the way somewhere else. Look forward to more stories of huge skies and wide open horizons.

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      i do hope so Kit – that its a new home to get stuck into and put down deep roots and allow the dust to settle …

  3. joannastevenson Says:

    Your words line up just perfectly. Best of luck in Kenya – it does sound very much like a full circle.

  4. Tash Says:

    na karibu tena! xx

  5. chris warman Says:

    so happy to click on and find you’e back. Some of my favourite writing is yours and more people than you probably realise can indentify with your experiences Thanks for sharing.

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      that’s so kind, Chris; thank you. my writing disappears a bit when life goes awry. new chapters for new words …

  6. Addy Says:

    Good luck with your move. I’ve lived in this house for 25 years… the thought of moving fills me with dread as I was so traumatised by the last one!

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      Thank you Addy. I felt a huge wrench when i left my farm house in northern TZ, pre outpost. I’d only been in it for six years but I loved it as home so much. you know its characteristics so well, where the light wasbest, every door that stuck, every stair that squeaked. i yearn to be in a home again long enough to become acquainted with its ‘personality’.

  7. Marianne Says:

    This is where your roots are, this is your home. I love circles

  8. Ann Says:

    You bring the exotic to life. Mysterious, frightening, amazing. I read your blogs while I was housebound watching my husband grow worse and eventually die from cancer. Our lives are so different and yet we have this link. Good luck with the move, I hope you find yourself in a good place this time. At least it will be more familiar.

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      thank you Ann. and isn’t the link extraordinary? being a part of intangible, distant lives in such a tangible way? yes. this time it will be more familiar. I tell myself that whatever happens, it will be happening at ‘home. and that helps. x

  9. janerowena Says:

    Fingers crossed – and at least it won’t be a huge wrench this time. And it won’t take so long to pack since you have not yet unpacked from the time before. I have managed to stay here for six years now and I still haven’t unpacked two boxes containing pictures and photos. I feel that if I do, then I shall be tempting fate and my husband will then decide that he needs yet another change of job.

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      thank you janerowena. there’s something in that isn’t there: not wanting to unpack boxes for fear of inviting fate … i do so hope this is the last move for a bit …

  10. Lynda Says:

    You live and share courageously. Thank you for that. I always get a little excited when I see that you have posted. My heart goes out to you with wishes for a smooth transition.

  11. nuttycow Says:

    Have a safe move RM. Am sure you’ll settle into the new house quickly and soon establish where the best light is, the squeaky stair is etc. With your family around you, it’ll soon become home.


  12. QldDeb Says:

    Glad to see you back.

    I’ve moved around a few times myself. I’m a gardener and I’m always worried when the garden gets to completion something will happen to make me move. Hope not, the garden’s looking great!

    Best of luck with the move, it sounds like a positive thing for you.

  13. Iota Says:

    I grew up in one place. My mother is just now moving from the house she and my dad moved into ion April 1st, 1963. We had a family get-together over Easter to celebrate 50 years in the house, and to bid it farewell.

    I always wanted that stability for my own children (who actually are more upset about my mother moving than I am – because her house represented such stability to them when we moved to the US and back, I think – or partly that). But life doesn’t always give you what you want, or what you plan. And I have made my peace with the moving around that we have done, and what that has added to my children’s lives. I used to feel it only in terms of what they were losing. Now I see the gain too.

    But my moves are nothing compared to yours! I can’t keep up with you! Good luck with this next one.

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