sunday night and way too late
to sit and think and contemplate
on wayward words
a drunken look
i'm much too tired to think of love.
sunday nights are my worst. they always have been. since little.
i'm just saying.
everything's so quiet.
(apart from crickets twinkling like fallen stars outside.)
and the dogs are barking at something lurking in the dark.
sometimes i get scared. of the stoned panga wielding bogey men.
of ghosts and eye glowing tokoloshes.
i daren't confess this to the children. i can scare them so easily. like in zanzibar. when the children and i stayed in a little robinson crusoe "banda" (hut) on a white crescent beach.
zanzibar is full of ghosts, you know. literally saturated in them.
behind our hut, in the tangled green, was an old cemetry. i never told the children, of course. but you know, after three days, one can get bored with just children for company, no matter how completely angelic, unique and extraordinary they are. i yearn for Adult Conversation. difficult when the place is jammed packed with hushed honeymooners. there i was drinking champagne by myself and staring open mouthed at these horrifyingly smug honeymooners, all flush with love and bold ideas of marriage. yes. so there i was. vaguely bored and stupified from the onslaught of the unadulterated beauty of the beach. still. yes bored. UNTIL, oh best beloveds, the kids came running to me with a pair of plastic blue bata flip flops. old ones.
look what we found ma! (like they had found an ancient stash of gold).
usually i would mutter something like, yeah. wow. ya know, whatever. and go back to my book.
i peaked my nose out from behind my book and god knows what overcame me....but i said,
wow! where did you find those? (dripping with obviously suspicious interest)
behind the hut! (they naively chorused.)
WHERE? i asked, with a stunning theatrical change of tone.
THERE! they happily pointed...
...to the tangled green where the cemetry was.
so i said (the devil made me do it):
do you mean From The Graveyard? do you know that's a GRAVEYARD? widening my eyes and arching my eyebrows.
no, ma....( in small voices)
the devil reincarnate continued gleefully.
well it is. an ancient ancestral burial ground. (fact. true) Those Could Be The Flip Flops Of A Dead Man. He Will Come And Look For You and Follow You To Find His Shoes.
and in a spooky quaking voice i quivered The Flip Flop Ghost Man.
well oh well. Big Mistake. hysteria ensued. i laughingly said to them,
i'm only joking, man! honestly!
it didn't work. i had three half grown people literally clammed onto me. you know, personal space completely colonized. no. not my idea of having a good time at all.
Oh For Godsakes Will You Just Bloody Well Calm Down. I WAS ONLY JOKING. RIGHT, THAT's ENOUGH... blah blah blah etceteRAH. There really is no Flip Flop Ghost Man....well. you never know. but i really doubt it. look. i'm not scared...(and by this time their sheer terror was starting to get to me...i had succeeded in scaring myself. i am excellent at this.) so i continued:
look. tell you what. let's throw those flip flops back into the jungle and then, bingo. problem sorted. yes?
and we ceremoniously and furiously threw them back where they belonged. half buried in the sand. forgotten in the tangled green of the ancient burial ground.
we started walking up the beach for dinner...in one of those silver blue zanzibar twilights, palm trees brooming the sky, a perfect slice of moon, fat beach stars, distant mosque chanting and ghosts on the wind.... danu p, in a small and brave voice, asked:
there isn't REALLY a graveyard there, Hey Ma?
i just couldn't lie.
hysteria ensued again. by the time we reached the dining banda, they were threatening to call the hotel manager and demand an escourt askari. they even went so far as to urgently plea with a pair of passing french honeymooners, all glowing from hot love.
Please Help Us! Our Mum Is Scaring Us....very loudly. in the dining room. one of the kids was even sort of wailing. by now the commotion was becoming a focus...a slightly alarming one and a most terribly uncomfortable one. for me and the hushed honeymooners, that is.
i sat there with a white marble smile dissecting my face, which was now purple. a flitter of alarm darted across the eyes of the loved up frenchies. fortunately only for a blink of a second before they were distracted by thoughts of , well, thoroughly more amusing matters. by god i had to excercise intense erudite mothering skills to restore order and calm amongst the troops. riot squads were airlifted in. an edgey sanity returned and everyone was allowed two bowls of ice cream. i was duly lambasted with serious threats from my children that if i even mentioned the flip flop ghost man again or anything remotely scary they really would call security. and whined on a little about asking the askari to escort us back to our hut.
i promised on my father's life that i wouldn't and i meant it.
after the wonderfully dramatic dinner, we strolled back along the beach to our banda. i felt gooseys flowering along my spine. from behind. strong ones. i noticed we were all holding hands really tightly. vice grippingly so. we all spoke light heartedly about the stars, the moonlight, the little lights of the fishing boats bobbing bravely beyond the reef, ghost crabs skittering in our wake. in all of our hearts, we jointly knew He Hadn't Really Gone Away. but we never said it. we daren't. we almost raced each other up the rope steps, hearts beating faster and secretly tempted to bash the door down because we honestly didn't have time to open the padlock with the rusty key. wild horses raced in my stomache. danu p held the torch while i frantically fumbled with the lock and key... when....All Of A Sudden...... danu p dropped the torch. it fell down below into the sand, into the tangled green. Into. The. Cemetry. . .
i lightly said, off you go then koeks. run down and get it.
NO WAYS. (he was adamant.)
the other brother piping in, i never dropped it. you did. you have to go and get it. no ways i am going Down There...! pointing into the darkness.
i, for one, really didn't want to go and retrieve it either.
i singingly encouraged, come on koeks. it's fiiiiiiiiiiiiine.
NO WAYS MA! I'M NOT!
gabby's small girl chin started to wobble and dimple. a sure sign of imminent wailing.
okokokok. i'll go. it's fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine. nothing to be frightened of. you guys stay there. i'm right here ok? OK???
ok ma, in very Very small voices.
i clambered down the rope, my heart in my throat, fucking terrified. i slowly walked into the tangled green, slowly picked up the torch, kindly apologised to the bata flip flop ghost man for ever bringing him to life again. (and for stealing his shoes, of course) and kindly asked him to please leave us alone. now. immediately. thank you ever so much. salaams and all that. i confirmed that we were not ever going to think of him again.
the children were jubilant. we had our light back, locks to open and dreams to dream.
to this day i have never mentioned the bata flip flop ghost man from Zanzibar again. even when i am really bored. i only have to say, well, Flip Flops. it's enough.
i wish the dogs would stop barking now.
toodedly toot, then, You. bisous X.X.X.X. nostalgic slow sunday night ones... j
oh and ps: be careful what you think...i'm just saying.