Saturday, March 29, 2014

snippets from a zanizibar journal...


Words buzz furiously in my head – like bees swarming….I do other things to distract myself, until they quieten down. I colour in. I read childrens’ story books, lying in the sun in front of the house. When the tide comes in, full and inky and gentle, usually in the early morning, I swim. I swim as far as I can go, until things feel better and the salt is from the sea and not tears.

It’s December. Everything has changed since last year. A house holds memories and the beach is savage. When we arrived, the kusi kusi (the cool south wind) still prevailed. The sea was crystal calm, like glass marble. Sometime last week, things changed, as they are wont to do. The kazi kazi blew in, the great north wind, hot, furious, urgent, pulling deserts behind it, stirring up the sea to hot broiling tea, snapping masts, twisting sea weed around your ankles and knotting stinging blue bottles around your wrists, tangled in bangles. Small jagged waves, full of impertinence, slap your face. The blasting heat drives us into the sea, regardless. We swim out to the last boat. The sea is so ragged, that sometimes you disappear completely. I have strong strokes, pulling myself further and further away from shore, closer to the moored dhow, bobbing crazily about like a cork. We hold onto it, hair slicked back, adorned with sea weed, victorious.

“It feels like the boat is pulling us out,” I yell above the wind and waves, sun in our eyes, hanging from the side like a survivor.

“This sea is warm as wee,” you shout, “I’m swimming back.”

I follow, sometimes on my back. It reminds me of sleeping on deck on that yacht off Pemba, when the boys were little and couldn’t swim yet. At night I’d lie on deck, the stars sliding silently above me. It felt like I was sailing through the stars, air born. Stars everywhere, above and below in the sea, the gentle rocking of the boat, the creak of the ropes, distant drums in a dark forest on the island, beating out demons, sailing into my dreams, Peter Pan style, stars tattooed into my sleeping lids and wakeful mind.

The little deaf boy, Mustafa, comes every day to the house. I give him coloured pencils and paper. He draws strange mermaid pictures of me. 


He is deaf but, I think, brilliant. I think he sees more than someone with all their senses. Perhaps the round thing in my tummy is my womb. Who is the little creature inside me?  He draws strange wings flaming from my head. I like to think he sees auras. He looks at me and draws and cannot tell me. Are those hands or wings? Are those feet or fins? I wish he could tell me.


 Twilight falls and he draws and draws, until his older brother comes to call him, reprimanding him for being late. Mustafa cannot hear the mosque call. He smiles, shakes my hand and scampers off up the beach, until tomorrow.

One afternoon, we stroll down the beach to watch a village boat race. 


The sailors are dancers, elegant, masters of the wind. Great ivory sails billow and twist. I can’t imagine how they shall be controlled…but they are, masterfully. 


The boats shoot out towards the reef, a sight not to be forgotten, like white butterflies skimming across the moon. 

At night, the wind batters the towers. I wake thinking the sea is in the house, the waves tearing at the sea wall, gnawing and thundering, roaring. But morning arrives, gently, sun sliced through the shutters, like lemon. Sipping coffee, the light so gentle, I know, that in the end, perhaps not everything will be ok, but some things will and there is a new day awaiting.


 toodely toot y'all. we're nearly all caught up. it'll be back to kitchen boards and stories from the lush green hill of the ngorobobs. bisous X.X.X. zanzibari ones on yer nose. x j


Sunday, March 23, 2014

'lengijabe'...place of winds.


there’s this place, on the outskirts of town, perched on the edge of the world as i know it, where the wind and its mother live.  down below, the plains stretch away, crinkling themselves up into volcanoes and soft dust laden hills….after the rain, which swoops down in great rolling clouds below you, it’s as though god has thrown a great green velvet carpet over the world. gazing down on this dreamscape, you imagine you could fly. 


on gentler days, silence has its own music. goat bells tinkle like chimes from far away and the wind whispers songs through the acacia. birds of prey hang still. the light is crystal and time slows down.  I day dream about riding down and away, past the volcano, past the horizon and settin up a gypsy camp on some forgotten sand river. sometimes we’d walk along the ridge, and admire all of northern maasailand from one spot, like a giant pop up map: monduli, ngorongoro, galai, ol donyo lengai, kitumbeni, longido, meru…names like poetry, mountains like infallible gods, carelessly powerful.



on a bad day, the wind screams and races down from the mountains, howling, slamming doors, shaping  giant whirling dust devils into the sky, scrambling dreams and waking ghosts.

for some reason, i feel closer to the stars here, turning and humming on ancient axis, closer to the things that aren’t.  sometimes, on those sweet quiet nights, i'd lie in bed, my window ajar, gazing at the stars crowding the glass and breathing fresh jasmine and dust as they curl, with the ghosts, into my dreams… some nights, mountain winds wrap pashmina mists around the house, closing you off from the world. on blanket silent nights like these,  the old house speaks; the ghosts walk the wooden floors and the attic and knock on the window. they won’t be ignored…the man in the kitchen standing by the stove, the child with the dark eyes in the old bedroom, the askari in the attic… footsteps and  flying candles.

at night there isn’t a light to be seen as far as you can see. it’s like staring into a dark, silent ocean.

we’d go there wide eyed, expecting magic…the children would delve into the old dressing up boxes, faded veils twinkling with sequins, gloves, sailor coats, dark blue silk dresses…appearing at the window as fairies, queens, princes, bearded ladies and kangaroos. 


we’d sit late into the night in the kitchen, drinking whisky, listening to old songs and talking of old times and absent friends. flying ants whirr drunken circles around the lamp, silver.  we weren’t afraid of the Things That Aren’t but i didn’t like walking down the passage on my own…there was always someone behind me… and those great silent planes below…

those great silent plains…


we don’t go there anymore. perhaps we’ll take a picnic  one day and visit babu and morani. there is always a time and a place for most things.

 i like to think that in chaos lies a secret, unfathomable order. so be it.


toodely toot y'all and bisous. X.X.X. windblown ones x j

Sunday, March 16, 2014

...from outta space....


oh beautiful besties! (if anyone's still around....?)  here i am. back...making a tentative re entry into the blogosphere. the thing is, actually, i HAVE been here...reading all your wonderful words, loving your lives, your images...and i've said to myself, "must try harder. must blog." i almost deleted the entire story. i almost started another one. the format of this might change, so be patient. or leave. i'll totally understand. believe me.

thank christ last year is over. 2013 wasn't one of the best. in fact, it could almost equate to the year my mother died but not quite. no one died. and anyway, it has a '13' in it. the hippies were right when they said there was transition at the end of 2012. holy cow, were they right or what?  on the edge is a pretty cool place to be, apparently. keeps one tight and watchful and at one's best, no?

but, happily - the worm is turning, i think, for the best - and things are far brighter and i have learned and loved, oh besties, more than you could imagine. i wouldn't say i am any the wiser for it, probably a little smaller, in fact. a little more frail perhaps, which isn't always a bad thing. i feel mostly alive and wide-eyed aware of the great and small blessings around me. and deeply grateful. 


the horse remains legendary.  just sayin'...

so.

what i plan to do, until we're all caught up on this life from the little pink house on the hill , since 25th November last year, is extract some little notes from my journal on what's been happening. and see if that works...to find the fluency again. or not.


3rd December 2013 

on the 3rd of december it is evident i am clearly failing at most things - apart from eating and planting baby cactii, which is my new passion, by the way. (planting things, not eating. although if you actually saw me, you would definitely question this). more on this later...

there. sigh. it's quite nice to have landed back here from outta space...i'll be taking small steps here. one letter at a time. 



i'll be seein' ya. i'm back. until then, bisous x.x.x. those old chestnut ones x j