An African's Anecdotes and Accoutrements
|For the third time in seven years I am packing up my life. I’ve spent the last month making lists, packing stuff inside and around the items I’m packing away in boxes, sealing the boxes and putting them to one side. Tonight my hall way is full of all sorts of boxes, stacked against the wall as they wait...
One week from today we will be back at the “Taj Mahal”, the guest cottage at Ivan’s offices. On Monday a 40 foot container will be parked outside this house, and packers will arrive to fill the container with pieces of our lives gathered over the last seven years. From Turkish carpets and plates to refrigerators and deep freezers... that container is going to be very full indeed! It’s a sad feeling, because this house has been so comfortable, and the year we’ve spent here has given us some wonderful memories of Turkey.
We will move into the cottage for the last eight weeks of our life in the diaspora. Next Wednesday Jabba begins the first part of his long journey home, flying to Istanbul at lunchtime. That same night he will fly to Johannesburg, arriving on Thursday morning. Regrettably he has to spend 24 hours at Oliver Tambo airport, but when he flies to Harare on Friday morning Ivan and I will be on the flight with him. He’s flying to Jo’burg via Turkish Airlines; we’re flying Air Emirates on Thursday night. We will be in Zimbabwe for two weeks.
Joining me on my walk around the complex this evening with Jabba was my old friend Nostalgia. We go way back; usually we reminisce about Zimbabwe, my family and friends. Tonight we passed the olive trees, covered in the tiny and rather insignificant cream flowers that will eventually mature into the wonderful fruit. We remembered gathering olives from these trees in October last year, and how I searched the internet for curing techniques. We’re just about to finish the last of the two jars I produced, and they were excellent.
Nostaligia pointed out the tiny beads of fruit on the grape vine, reminding me of the juicy bunches of plump green grapes Jabba and I shared during our evening walks last year. We paused at the top of the road, watching the swooping swallows and listening to the chirping house sparrows and cooing doves while the sun set, brushing the clouds a pinkish-purple tinge. We marvelled at the splendour of this Izmir sunset, as beautiful and yet so different from the magnificent bold reds and orange in an African sunset.
We walked past the caretaker Zeke’s house, chased by his cheeky little brown dog BonDuke (or should is it “BonDuque”?) who alerted Boss the German Shepherd... wonder what he’s going to bark at when my Jabba dog has moved away? We won’t be able to enjoy the artichokes along our boundary wall, because there’s no evidence of their giant thistle-like fruit on these plants.
At my gate Nostalgia and I parted company. I went back into my house, greeted by the boxes we will open for the last time in August/September in another continent and in a house that actually belongs to us. These boxes contain the physical reminders of our lives during the last seven years. Tonight Nostalgia reassured me that the memories in my mind and my heart are even more important than the contents of those boxes.
And at least I don’t have to wrap them up and seal them in a box!
Distance not only gives nostalgia, but perspective, and maybe objectivity
Robert Morgan, US Soldier. 1918-2004