Mid-way through my summer editing job, I am finally able to see the sense of the book. This augurs well for the planned final read through in a couple of weeks’ time. Time is precious. I feel as if I am not doing enough of anything – not enough work, not enough blogging, not enough sleeping, not enough gardening. And yet, for all that, I seem to be doing a lot. Quite possibly I do not have enough time to bring a sense of perspective to the situation. Perhaps the fact that I am still standing – and have clean laundry to prove it! – is good enough.
There are four stories below, chiefly because I am not a fan of the number 13, whereas its immediate successor induces a sense of calm in me. If you have not bought my book, and were not one of the privileged few to get a pre-publication copy as a means to garner your opinion, then you will not have seen this particular clump of vignettes for which footnotes containing cultural detail are sometimes required:
There was nothing funny about growing up in a country at war with itself. It affected everybody. I do mean everybody. It made for an us-and-them antagonism I abhor to this day.
After endless discussion and careful reflection from that day playing marbles until I was 14, I decided that there is no such thing as freedom – only sadness, alternating with euphoria in a Billy Joel kind of way.
Is it surprising that I had no time for nail polish?
I can’t write this. I am getting a headache already. Those who were there, or still are, will know what I mean. History is a persistent bastard, and cannot be explained.
* Ishe Komborera Africa (God Bless Africa) is a popular hymn, which became the national anthem of the independent nation of Zimbabwe in 1980. Before that, we had to sing “Rise, O Voices of Rhodesia.” Before 1974, we sang “O God, our help in ages past” for a bit. That hymn replaced “I vow to thee my country all earthly things above”, which mentioned the Queen of England a lot.
Thankfully, we have lives centred on the minutiae of domestic skills which serve to take the edge off the negative effects of political controversy. Well, that is the intention, anyway:
My sister and I helped my mother a lot in the kitchen.
One day, quite a while before the gem squash harvest, I think, we were given permission to make a sponge cake all by ourselves.
That was the day the top element in the oven went on the blink – mid-way through the baking of our creation.
Our lovely cake did not rise as expected.
It was utterly sunken in the middle.
As we grow up, we become aware that despite having very similar biscuit faces, we are unique individuals who differ from our siblings in important ways which mould our characters and, to some extent, shape our futures:
Jenny loved to torment me by saving all her Smarties* until I had finished mine.
I loved chocolate too much to ignore her.
She had me begging every single time, and loved every minute of it.
She would dispense one Smartie at a time from colour-categorised little piles to a mysteriously indebted me.
Who eats one Smartie at a time?
* Candy-coated chocolate like M&Ms, only better.
I actually have an intensely beautiful memory of the day before the one depicted in the next story. My grandpa took my sister and I for a walk. The sheer joy of having him all to ourselves, and being absorbed in an activity in we had hitherto not consciously engaged for pleasure has me tracing the precise route we took even now, decades later. The soil in our area was an earthy red, of which terracotta is its poor cousin.
NEW YEAR’S EVE
By mid-morning on 31 December, the lounge carpet was already rolled up in preparation for the party that night.
My gran is crocheting and chatting and I am reading (sort of) and chatting, and wondering quietly to myself if a fabric more hideous than underfelt exists.
My sister is annoying my mother in the kitchen, I can tell.
Next thing, my mother screams, “Jesus!” as the oven door bangs loudly.
By the second “Oh, Jesus!” we are all in the kitchen.
My grandpa has just had his third heart attack and lies dead on the floor. My mother is uselessly fanning him with an old newspaper, trying to revive him.
1974 came in quietly.
If you are a bookworm, then you have finished all your books saved up for summer reading and now are sorely in need of something in hard copy from Amazon which is both beach-friendly and lends itself well to colouring-in by adults and children alike. It is also an excellent addition to the library in your guest loo, assuming you have the latter. To order your own copy, click on the picture below:
© 2015 Allison Wright