Echoes of Hand Claps

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I tried to learn a story from you, something that could make sense of the smiles you have been sharing with the world. So we talked merrily in serious times until you opened up to me, opened a window into a room filled with laughter and music, you showed me your answers to my questions. Now it is clear, you are missing the fire of it all, the stage was once your home.

Your warm words are the lasting embers of what was vibrant and colourful to you once. Echoes of the brilliant you have made themselves known in your moments of revery. Time has a way of pretense that has fooled too many, too often. Its colorless folds, have a adopted a shadow to hide that moment in time from you, it has failed to deceive me, I hope it fails to hold those memories behind you. There is plenty theatre inside that beating heart.

In confidence you grew bolder in owning up to your brilliance. You let me listen to your tales of magic, when you would disappear from the constraints of the audience and find your true colour on the stages that made you wholesome in your talents. I can only drag you so far back into that moment before you lose me, before you find your wings and take to patches of that memory you have succeeded in keeping secret. I’m dancing to the echoes of a symphony of passion, a melody of a memory so potent it kills my bearings. To the watching eyes I’m too silly to be made of sense, to the moment, I’m a victim of truth.

The years haven’t been able to stifle the reverberation of that most precious time. Don’t lose the magic, because you have been led to believe that the mischief of the theatre is for people less serious than you ought to be now. Behind the closed doors of my own home I harmonize with those echoes you let me hear, hoping to find the child at play in this very serious place. I hope you can let me see that child at play again, I hope you can find that magic again, take to the stage once more.

Writing 101, Day 2: A Room With a View

 

The prompt for the day was to write a descriptive piece. I had to think of one place I would love to journey to, I’d have to go there, I’d have to share it with you, paint you a picture of this important place. I turned to nostalgia for my answer, and I wrote, what I’m hoping to be an effective portrayal, of one of my favourite weekend outings as a boy. Enjoy! 

 

It was a weekend, It was always a weekend when we went there. We waited until the sun was nice and round, full and clear, sitting perfectly in the sky. 

There was a long stretch of shore line. I’m not sure what you call it when a man made body of water meets land like that, but the grass was right up against the water. You could see right across to the other side if you stood at the right place. Sometimes the water went on forever, an endless sheet of dancing sunlight, dropping off into the distance. The whole thing was like a mirror, wobbling and dancing. This wasnt a river, or a great ocean, so the water had a bit of elegance I guess, because it danced a shy little dance against the warm air that swept through.

There was a large building, it was the unmovable guardian of the water side. It stood sturdy and still, it was the long standing sanctuary from the Zambian sun. I could tell it had been there for a long time. It had these cracks that traced its walls, like wrinkles on a face that has seen more than its fair share of sunsets, I’m more than sure that it had seen its fair share of setting Suns over Mindolo. It’s once white walls were faded and had clearly been kissed by the sky’s offering during the rainy season. It was an old building but it housed everything we needed, the bar, the restaurant, the old slanted pool tables that sat right in front of the dj booth.

Between the mirrors edge and the old building, there was a wide stretch of grass. It was littered with rounded wooden tables, revarnished on occasion, but sporting there age in withered edges and dented slacks. There were unevenly spaced deck chairs huddled around them, waiting for the crowds. I remember how those tables attracted the herds of folk, hooves of happy patrons clip clopping across the worn grass paths to those sun lit perches. 

I could tell people went there a lot, I could tell because of the grass. There was grass everywhere, but in places you could see it had been worn away by the frequent visits. Around the picnic tables you could see the green bleed to gold. I can imagine the little feet running around the table, as the adults sat down, drinking their cold drinks, drinks far too bitter for their youn mouths. The adults would occasionally stand to have a dance, joining the little feet in tracing another map of a joyful weekend in the blades of grass. 

There was always music in the air. From the heart of the faded white building the disk jockey would spin his afternoon magic, he kept the air filled with music that kept the spirits high, matching the tempo of the peaking sun. He had a way of making it so there was always a song that made mum and dad dance, I remember mum shuffle in her seat pursing her lips the way she did, I remember dad stifling a laugh, I remember us all laughing.

 I remember the fishing rods that dad would make up for us. Dad always brought some hooks and a reel of fishing line along with him, they might have been guitar string but dad was always resourceful like that. Past the big building and further away from the crowds, there was a place where the reeds had grown wildly against the wavering mirror. Dad would fetch us some reeds, he tied the line onto the ends and fix our hooks with his unmovable knots. He would help us bait our hooks and sat us down by the waters edge. It wasn’t very deep close to the grass, when the water was clear we could see the little fish swimming underneath the semi permeable  mirror, I liked how sometimes I could see broken pieces of the sun in it, stealing a moment from the sky to dance in the water. 

Everyone threw there sauced and seasoned meats onto to the barbiques. There  barbiques pits everywhere, each was stood next to the picnic tables. With a hiss and a subtle mist, the air came alive with a world of flavour. Dad would watch over the pit and turn the pieces of meet with an experience eye, sending another cloud of flavour in the wind to tease the other tables who had just finished there share, or were readying there food for the fire. 

We enjoyed the day until it was close to spent. Dad always liked the way the sun dipped in the water at the furthest edge. The sun dawned an orange hue, lowering itself into the water. I have watched dad look at it the same way every time. He watches very closely. He watched it until only a small corner of the sun was left peaking out of the water, the whole sky was tainted orange, the air grew cold and the loud music played on. There were less of the yoingervoices. We knew this meant it was time to go home. I always savoured those days by the water, the sun catching in the shimmering sheet, at Mindolo where we forged our memories. 

Writing 101 – Day Four: Serially Lost

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We had to go. I had to bring my farewells to an end, my time was up. In less that 72 hours I would be thousands of miles away, we’d be thousand miles apart. This farewell was final, we wont be seeing each other for a very, very long time. On second thoughts, I wouldn’t see a lot  things for a very long time.  My house, my school mates, the friendly faces that lived on the other-side of our fences, all of it would take a step back from the next few chapters of my life.

My father spoke of this move before, apart from the hypothetical reality that lived in the conversation between me and my three brothers, it was only an idea. This idea had finally become a reality, my family was moving over to the United Kingdom, to the fruitful planes of sunny England. It was all exciting for us, of course it was. We would be stepping into a glorious new world.  Our spirits had acquired some vigour in the days leading up to the move. Each one of us, excited, fidgety, running away with this sweeping anticipation. We’d play as we normally did, running around the large yard, exercising our active imaginations. There was tree climbing, play fighting and the mandatory wrestle with our family pet to entertain us. A boisterous bundle of loyalty that dog was, dancing amongst our excitement. He had a knack for seizing any chance to partake in our merriment. “Jungle will love it there!” I thought to myself one day. I froze and examined the thought, letting reality wash over the statement “Jungle .. love it … there?”. Never has a more solemn realization hurtled down onto my joy, it shattered my ecstasy. I knew Jungle wouldn’t love it there, because jungle wasn’t going there.

At the age of six my family relocated. We moved from Zambians capital, Lusaka, to a town called Kitwe. We moved into a spacious house, with a very roomy yard, plenty of lawn space and a variety of trees accenting it, mango, guava, avocado, oranges, lemon … heaven. Its hard to forget the backdrop to so many of my childhood memories.

This is where we were introduced, Me and Jungle met for the very first time at that house. Jungle, a peculiar name I know, named as a pup before we met him, we embraced it. The charismatic canine won us over with his vivacious thirst for adventure, the glare of optimism in his eyes and the bounce in his step. As soon as he touched down he was off, wasting no time in exploring. He scurried around the yard, marking  his territory, fighting against the fencing’s edges, hoping to manufacture a new exit, generally growing intimate with his new digs.

I was a boy, he was a pup. He was filled with affection and excitement, the contagious cheer was instinctively reciprocated. In Zambia, our dogs slept outside. This made every morning a heartfelt reunion. Waking up to this excited beast, starry eyed with his tail high, wagging wildly. The weekends were the best, we welcomed his hugs of excitement, even encouraged the Ecstasy. School days were a formal affair, we had to pacify these morning greetings, exercising caution and reining in the thoughts of play. his excitement had a way of ruining our school uniforms, stray fur and paw prints were a sure way to guarantee a scolding.

Every moment spent apart was brought to an end with a heart melting reception. I still feel his wet nose dotting my hands, his wagging tail beating against my legs as he circled me in a frenzy. The 10 second walk to the door was  extended by jovial ceremony. I welcomed the paw prints and those mischievous stray strands of fur that lingered long after each embrace has ended. He had his own way of looking, with his eyes, he would trace me up and down almost to say “long time no see, look how much you’ve grown”, a reception akin to family you haven’t seen in years. Regardless of how the day went, good or bad, I was always guaranteed one thing, one thing to augment merriment or sweep any sadness from the frame. Whether it be running under the beating afternoon suns gaze or simply sat on the veranda, evading the rains stampede, he filled each moment with loyalty, comfort and companionship.

Since meeting him, I cannot remember a milestone in my life in which he was truant. The passing of my grandfather was a particularly emotional event for me, even then, I remember the role he played in piecing me back together. He was my best friend, we grew up together. I saw him mature from a pup to the dog I last remember, and he saw me grow too, from losing my baby teeth to learning to read.

Now imagine the scene of our final farewell, imagine looking your best friend in the eye, knowing you will never see him again, knowing he has no idea that, this is it. Imagine knowing that those goodbyes that appeased even the blues days were resigned to living solely as memories. As that kennel door shut close a chapter of my life, those dark eyes of his peered at me protest. His solemn whimpers, and the chatter of his paws as he paced frantically cannot, will not, be forgotten.

His memory will never fade. I know I will never call his name and see that stampede of love rushing at me again, I know I will never feel the warmth of him, when the air is cold, or when the smile on my face has frosted and tapered down. The whimpers and paws scratching at the door, calling me out, to teach me how to appreciate another day will now only reverberate in memory. He taught selfless love, loyalty and seizing happiness in everyday.

I lost Jungle in the Summer of 2003. I refuse to ask where he is now. That, my heart cannot bare, I will revel in blissful ignorance. My best friend is alive in my memories. It would take a thousand lifetimes to stifle that light. I’m in England now, Jungle loves it.