The announcements screeched aloud by nearby cockerels, the sun beaming in through the gaps of the linen laced curtains, the sounds of distant chatter; negotiations coming from the construction site, which would soon become a home. The day awaits.
Learning quickly the rhythm of time, how it seems as though it’s tempo aligned with the rising and setting of the sun. 6:30am, as it rises so does the nation, laces tied and ready for the sprint. A race against time, against the sun, that has so kindly lent its elegant radiance with no contract, but sometimes repercussions. It’s fierceness, and biting heat is forgiving however. For me, it leaves a graceful tan, a print to acknowledge its presence.
It didn’t take long before I became used to this, the way of things, this way of life. Organized chaos. The commute to work, East airport to Romans Ridge, a journey constituting of nearly symmetrical sightings of palm trees, decorating the well treaded streets and the occasional foot path that so regularly disappears into the busy roads. Sharing the roads with vehicles, even livestock- chicken and goats, who even, seem to be in a rush. The similarities to the busyness of London are not so far off, except of course, if livestock was seen casually parading the road it would probably make headline news that same evening.
Working in the heat is an art, my sweat giving away the fact I’m not from Africa. Everyone else seems used to it, faces calm and nearly dried, me on the other hand coated with beads of sweat, some orderly placed on my forehead, others waywardly sprinting to my chin, as though it were a race. At least that’s what it seemed like, it’s not till recently I realized why natives were appearing comparatively dry. Their discreetly placed uniformed handkerchief made guest like appearances, patting away the unwanted intruder, the sweat, as though it were a spot. A memo I did not get.
As the sun sets, the roads become quieter, a stark contrast of the bustling’s of the day. The bitter sweetness of a car going past, illuminating, though temporary, the streets, grateful to see what lays a head, revealing just for a moment, providing the opportunity to prepare for the pothole or casual stone to avoid. In the moment of appreciation, the bitterness overwhelms as the car passes and leaves behind an aggressive sandstorm, enforcing its dominance into your face, in your eyes and sometimes leaving residuals in your mouth.
The evening. As hawkers, white-collar workers, and even the birds find their nests. The streets become quite, preparing for the rhythm to start again. In this interlude I begin to think, thoughts of love, thoughts of home and thoughts of life.
Soon I’ll return for London, home. A word this experience has showed me is relative. What is home? a place where I was born? I can’t say my second visit to Africa has made me except this place as home, but it has certainly made me begin to redefine what home is to me.