Kind Light

The last leg of my walk yesterday and suddenly the sun, caught in the crack afforded by a break in a blanket of cloud and my western horizons, flooded my world.

As if whiskey light were being poured over me; the earth was tiger striped orange and black, and I imagined the sun hanging onto the last of the daylight for dear life: these last long fingers of brightness. I stopped still and drank in that golden hour. It was brief and beautiful.

It made me think of mum. She used to call this the Kind End of the Day. I was never sure if that was because of the light, or the sudden cool that descends on Africa, in that short hiatus between too hot, too bright afternoon and the cool gloom of dusk. I think perhaps both.  All of Africa’s sharp edges are knocked off then: it’s still just bright enough to notice her beautiful bits, but dwindling light has softened corners. We are all prettier in the absence of harsh light; younger and less tired. 

We would often sit on a verandah together then, share a beer and watch the light go, quietly, elegantly, aflame. Until suddenly it was gone and the bats and frogs and bushbabies had begun to sing and chirp and argue and shout.

‘Fancy another?’ I’d say lifting the empty bottle and Mum would smile, ‘Oh yes.’

Mum talks about the weather often when I call. But the conversations are muddled. My seasons are opposite to hers but she cannot grasp this fact: ‘Where are you again?’

She tells me about the weather forecast as if we share one, as if her rain will be mine, my sunshine brighten her day. As if I might even have had snow. Sometimes as she speaks she gazes quizzically out of a window. I watch her on my screen. Her head is tilted. I see the soft underneath of her chin, notice her hair is ever longer, even whiter.

‘It’s a funny old day today’, she says, ‘the sky is covered in cloud. And yet I can still see the sun. I wonder where it’s coming from’, and she laughs. 

It’s called optimism. That sunshine she sees. The same sunshine that rolled behind rocks, went underground, when she was sick with Depression.

I am astonished – grateful – it’s rolled back out again, that I can see this crack of it now before it vanishes behind scudding clouds that I know gather and bank.

I can see their blackness out of the corner of my eye.

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