Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Grass

Tonight I smelled the scent of Africa. It was so brief, and died so quickly, it sat like a heavy weight around my feet. It was the grass cuttings I think, capturing the last moment of heat before sunset. It was that petal thin wisp of time when animals scuttle away with their young after grazing, or start to wake to hunt at dusk. That small moment of capturing an even smaller movement just beyond the eye arch, and wondering "friend or foe? Snake or mouse, leaf or frond?" When the minutes and seconds freeze and you are not sure whether to rouse yourself and shake them free, or be static with them, hoping for a glimpse of something as yet unknown. 
 I remember a midnight bush ride. Bouncing in the back of a vehicle, shining an arc lamp into the dense trees, stealing myself for a view of something other worldly. I got my wish when bush baby eyes stared back at me, and as the light beam passed, so did she. Legs scurried in the undergrowth. We heard them, so we stopped, turned down the light, and listened as the leaves crinkled with the dying heat, and somewhere a bird screeched. 
I miss Africa. I miss the hair on my arms rising to a primordial sound. I miss eating fruit from the trees and wondering if it will mean a night with tummy cramps or a night feeling exotic and far away from home and overwhelmingly free. Strangely, I miss the drums of settlements, of women walking along high ridges at dawn, making their way to fields and crops and hard labour for the day, yet singing an awake lullaby. 
 I remember the roadside markets at night, lit with kerosene lamps, making a road brighter than bright. Twinkly, like Christmas, but smelling of mangoes and bananas, and children running around free in the cool and dust, laughing, not noticing they were poor. 
So I am glad of the drying grass and the wink of the veld and the memory of a distant home.

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