Monday, 29 December 2008

Jets Aren’t Natural

(Kuala Lumpur: Yesterday)
My brother, sister, and I manage to get together in one place about every two years. It’s Christmas in Kuala Lumpur this time.

Today I fly back to South Africa. Helene leaves for London tomorrow, and Brett stays home in KL. We’ve made our singular choices and live our own lives, but today this wrenching away feels awful. Escape wasn’t meant to be so simple in this world where we can race sunsets. The distance loses the knife, but the scar can always be traced. 

This time tomorrow I’ll be home. Six time zones away from today.

For all the joyful hellos and crying goodbyes airports play stage to, they’re such brutal places. Airports should be built like cathedrals, swooping heartspaces of rejoicing or solace- not the steel halogen-lit lonely places they are.

(Johannesburg: 4am today)
Feeling jet-lagged, tearful and wrung inside out. I’m home. Home in this crazy place.

As dit donker is, as almal slaap 
is ek voor jou deur en ek wag 
Sing die ou ou lied van Afrika 
sing dit sag, sing dit lank vir my 
maak oop jou hart, maak oop jou deur 
laat my binnekom, laat my bly. 

- Marianne de Jongh

(When it's dark, and everyone sleeps
I am at your door, and I wait.
Sing the old song of Africa,
sing it softly, sing it long for me
open your heart, open your door
let me come in, let me stay.)


Jeannie said...

Tim, your writing makes my heart ache in a way I can't quite define. I agree completely about airports. Welcome home; let's see what 2009 brings us here in SA.

PS Beautiful poem. How is it that Afrikaans can be both a blunt, Germanic club of a language, and a lyrical wellspring of delicate beauty??

Janelle said...

oh oh oh oh! heart wrenching..beautiful...oh oh oh xxx j

Reya Mellicker said...

The human body wasn't meant to travel so quickly. I find flying, even short distances, completely disorienting.

I hate the airplane seats that are made for a primate much more long wasted and shorter legged than I am, and more than anything I hate the airplane jargon.

Sorry you were wrenched away from your dear ones, glad you are home. Rest up and best wishes for the new year.

Chimera said...

Sending you a big hug. My family had exactly this conversation a couple of days ago in Spain where we were at Xmas, and once again are scattered all over the wrold. Its harsh and I think your comment about airports is wonderfully accurate.
Take care and rest well,
Tanvi xx

Tessa said...

'Sing the old song of Africa.' Ja, bro. I still feel the drumbeat. Every single day.

You write beautifully, Tim, and I think you speak volumes...for all of us.