The scent of the air after it rains gives me the most poignant feelings. I have never experienced the like in all my years. It takes me to another time. Another place. I’m waiting for you under the eaves of tall dark-green trees. There are lone cottage houses standing in thick white mists. You approach and we stand just outside the wood where the grass rolls for miles. The absolute quiet is bliss and a gentle breeze slides against our ears, teasing our clothes and glancing off our ankles. We’re going for a walk.
Have you ever noticed, if you work, that every morning when you leave for your hustle, you’re always trying to get ahead of the sun? It’s at the back of you, chasing you across the sky. But when you’re coming home, you’re the one chasing it?I used to wonder about that when I was on the commute. Some people wake up running from the sun, like it spells doom if it caught them over their heads, while others tend to be on the road, lying in wait for it to shed light on their daily bread.
A friend told me people relax when they have eaten enough food. That they might be living in desperate circumstances but their worries are immediately allayed (for the time being) the minute they’ve had their fill. They could have been tripping before, on the brink of whatever ruin worried out of their minds but when someone offered them food, and they’re satisfied, the rest of the day will passed happily. Until the hunger returns. I thought about it and I noticed I forget my worries whenever I’m eating. As does my mother. The moment she finishes her favourite food she becomes a docile lioness. She could have been barking and yelling at us before but then she pushes away her empty plate and slides down the sofa cushions, stretches out her legs and assumes this languid, unconcerned look, lazily swishing her hand back and forth like it was an animal’s tail. She could be in the wild Savannah, on a blazing afternoon under a shady tree, yawning and nipping at her cubs to stop biting her ear.
Have you ever been debating someone, on the brink of arguing, and you were so sure, so certain about your point of view, and then they change the perspective, restructure the argument effectively obliterating your position? How do you feel. Do you begin to second-guess yourself?
Looking back on your childhood you see, in a big picture kind of way, what you were, and what you could have been. You see this through a social lens. Comparing traits you admire from your peers and what you were like as a child. Your friend who has that quality you like, she was always this way when she was young, while I was like this. That’s why she can do this better than me. You see the missing pieces in your personality puzzle. How they could have changed you, added you aspects to complete your ideas of a more capable human being.
There is a pressure to make an admirable life for yourself. Yet you should never dare to take big risks. You want to tread just the right path, make no mistakes that will obliterate it because there is no better one. None that you can see. You are pushed to find a permanent means of sustenance, or suffer the sanctions of community life. You don’t know what you’re doing, yet everyone around you expects you to, because they’re much older so they already do. You must act like you do too.
Sometimes you want to go back to certain places, certain moments in time when you felt…right. Enough. You liked yourself better, you liked where you were better. Personally, those moments, that place, was my childhood. That time was bomb. Every day was exciting. Every day brought an adventure. I couldn’t communicate well through speech even then but it worried me less because kids are open little books. You can’t sit still around them to save your life. I used to walk through a dumping site where railway tracks passed. It was a full kilometer end to end, known for harboring drug abusers among other criminals but me and my siblings would pass through every day at dawn on our way to school from 7 years old till I was 14. That path was lined with tall thick bushes where they lay in wait. They (the bushes) would rustle and shake suddenly, someone would slide out, absolutely terrifying you. You would run screaming like a bedeviled thing, your arms in the air trying not to wet yourself.
There used to be ghosts in my school. They had red heels, wore red skirt suites and had flaming hair. Their hair was literally on fire on top of their heads. Children would tell you they had been in the toilet alone when they heard the sound of heels clapping against the tiled floor. These heels would then stop outside their stall door, coloured red, with no feet inside them. That’s right, they would be feet-less heels. And when you opened the door, they’d disappear and you’d ran out yelling again, crazed, because you’d seen Madam Mary when you were peeing. She was fond of appearing in bathrooms and outside the windows of those sitting in back of the class. Of course you’d cause an uproar and everyone would run back to that same girl’s toilet to look. Of course there’d be no one there but the intrigue, the suspense, the thrill of it would remain with you for days even though you never went to pee by yourself after that lest you see a pair of wandering heels.