the kids have this idea that they want to camp at the top of the hill. sounds like fun. sounds like a reasonable request. sounds marginally adventurous.
oh but wait. what about those witchcraft murders? the ones where they chop your tongue out. what about the jambazis? with their knives and guns moving stealthily at night under the half moon.?
actually no. no.
no. bloody hell. no.
they can camp under the acacia near the kitchen. near the house. it'll be just as much fun....and i can quickly and easily kill baddies and save them if they're closer. going through this tedious, and perhaps imaginative, decision process made me think back to my childhood...when helen (bestest ever friend) and i wanted to camp in the garden in zululand. the garden was enormous. full of hidey holes and hedges and fish ponds and forests. still. it was in the garden. not on the top of the hill in the wilds....ish. but i remember eventually the garden, with porgy (my faithful old bullterrier) sleeping at the door, became way too tame for us.
we wanted The Dam....where our old raft was moored (marooned at one point during the seven year drought). The Dam, which hid the biggest barbel known in zululand, or so we reckoned. The Dam where leguvaans slid crocodile like into the tepid muddied darkness, where we dropped our hooks threaded with earth worms and the mud was slimy and black and squelched through your toes. The Dam where bilharzia probably thrived, where the vervets chattered in the dark shade during the white hot noon. it was our wilderness. it was where we felt most alive. because we could scare ourselves silly. yes. we wanted to camp there and move the kitchen down the hill. we were livid when my parents said no. enraged.
perhaps it was just after the time when the mad man had run through the sugar farm, naked and oiled (so you couldn't catch him. he slipped through your grip like a snake), on a moonless night, setting fire to the sugar cane. everytime the cane cutters ran to put out the fire he would attack. one woman lost an ear. someone else ended up being pangaed (slashed with the kalemba). he wouldn't come near the light and stayed in the darkness. racing over the dry hills leaving a trail of fires and blood behind him. my mother and i were alone in the house. we had closed the doors and turned on all the lights. every single one. to chase the darkness. we had armed ourselves with polo sticks and aerosol cans of doom. we could see the fires burning and hear the shouting. then the silence. then the sliding door opening. my mother called out "Ron!" but no answer. someone had come into the house. i remember how she walked down the passageway, me gingerly following behind, my heart thundering in my ears, trying to dissuade her. it wasn't the mad man, oiled and naked. it was my father who had come to get his gun and had left again.
i am not sure the mad man was ever caught. so no wonder my parents didn't really want helen and i camping at The Dam. still. we didn't think of those things then. thank god.
we stayed in the garden and told ghost stories instead and talked about camping at The Dam while porgy snored at the door and growled at my father when he came to check we were ok.
let's see if the kids wear me down until i say yes. in which case i will most likely end up camping too...and you know how i LOVE camping...
toodely toot oh best beloveds. bisous X.X.X. frangipani scented ones. x j