I have been itching to write for a couple weeks now, the urge always comes at the most inopportune time, lying on my bed about to fall asleep, sitting in a meeting that begs my full attention, walking on the ice road, teaching a class or reading a book that has got me hook line and sinker. It’s not like I can keep the desire until a favourable moment to write comes along, this itch comes and goes as it pleases but since you are reading this friend, my desire must have finally aligned with a favourable time to sit in front of my screen and share my thoughts.
Winter is in full swing and I am so relieved to tell you that I am loving it, everything is draped in beautiful white giving my heart hope for this land every time I step out. Even with this peaceful contentment for the northern winter of which I am sure by April I will be begging for it to go away, nostalgia for home has been doggedly pursuing me of late. I don’t shy away from it, in my opinion it is good to miss the familiar from time to time for there are some that cannot stand the idea of going home. I am glad I have a community and family to remember fondly.
The azure sky with large ever green mango trees occasionally obscuring its view of us is always the first memory that comes to mind when nostalgia comes calling. The curtain call is on as the sun slowly moves to make its opening act on the other side of the globe. The crickets call gets louder as the day darkens, the chickens occasionally scratch the ground as they reluctantly make their way home, their chatter part of the evening cacophony. Children scamper around the neighboured some on errands to buy garlic or lettuce others simply hanging out with friends. The rush of the traffic gives the tempo to the evening beat. It is fast and moves with purpose, many rush home after a long day’s work. Here and there a dog barks a greeting, a heartfelt response reminds it, its not alone. Two houses down, a father switches on his radio, music is blaring out of speakers that have seen better days, it’s Friday evening, and he must celebrate. The familiar tune of an Angolan Kizomba – Passada song adds on to the evenings happenings. A group of teen girls are on their way to attend evening classes but temptation in the form of a gregarious young man and his Toyota Vitz parked on the road showing off an impressive sound system plays music that beckons the girls to forget their good intentions and join him. His woofers are big and his music makes every window on the street vibrate, its Friday evening let the beers roll and the dancing begin. The pesky mosquito that faithfully disappears to God only knows where when the sun is out returns with a vengeance, reminding everyone seated under the orange tree, I will never leave you. Grandparents chat and smack themselves as they absently kill the annoyance without a second thought. The sound of garlic and onions being fried in a generous amount of oil assails everyone’s senses, making some women ponder on whether to start cooking or watch the next episode of their favourite Brazilian soapie. Of course as darkness descends, the hot topic is the weather, everyone loves to hate the heat, it’s one of those nights when even with the sun gone its presence can still be felt strongly. Unbridled cheer burst out of a bottle of Coca-Cola as a group of boys share it amongst each other, the gush of water from the shower as someone else gives it a go at cooling their body encourages a girl to pull out a bucket, fill it with water and let her baby brother happily splash it out, his delight filling her heart with contagious giggles.
If you have grown up in a culture where a quiet neighbourhood is an ideal one, it is very difficult to get accustomed to what I call the music of an African neighbourhood. I remember when I was home last July hearing all that I have described and more, my heart and mind settled and I slept right through the night as if all of life’s happenings was a symphonic masterpiece put together to help me sleep in perfect peace.
I miss home.