Surrender … to the scorpions
SO! You’ve settled into your house and slept on the best bed, ever.
You sleep a deep, deep sleep and when you wake, you feel raw, tender.
You look at the pictures of your home in Joburg; your beautiful, soulful home and garden.
You see pictures of your dogs, the flowers, the trees, the shady forest where you sometimes sit.
Living in an ancient old country is not for sissies, even if it is the source of our dubious western civilisation.
You feel as if you’re a sissie today.
A crying, vulnerable sissie. You’re wondering, WTF?
Where am I? Why?
The task you have set yourself: to collate and make a commodity of your life’s work, it seems impossible.
But now your body’s moving to the music in Portakali, a cafe that your landlord, I Did It My Way, said you ought to go to, to write.
You don’t have internet at home, to post your blog.
The music provides a compelling beat. Your spirits lift, a little.
There’s a counter culture, everywhere, and in Eressos, it’s at Portakali.
It means orange, Madame X says, via Facebook.
Google tells you it’s a Turkish word. It’s also French for kangaroo court!
Today, Eressos Square is full, and noisy.
It’s mainly portly old men who occupy the chairs on the tavernas’ verandas; portly old men, their faces full of stories.
They’ve got big bellies, and they sit and stare into space, or they play backgammon, the younger ones, at any rate.
The ancients lean on the crooks of their walking sticks, two hands over the top of them.
But today, the walruses of Eressos Square have some competition.
There are children running around.
There’s a sprinkling of women too, for a change.
The music at Portakali sort of moves you.
You almost get up and dance. In fact, good grief, you do.
Spontaneously. For a second or two.
You clap your hands. God, you did that?
Yesterday, the landlord phoned, from London, on Madame X’s phone.
And, after a deft movement of her thin, long fingers, the loudspeaker brings I Did It My Way into the room.
She guides you through where’s this, where’s that. And then it’s the subject of scorpions.
You must spray, she says. You are sceptical, so you ask what will happen if a scorpion bites?
It’s like a thousand nails hitting into you, she says.
That’s why there are syringes and needles and scorpion muthi in a kitchen drawer.
You have to inject yourself.
It’s easy, she says. I jabbed myself in the bum.
The prophylactics have expired. You have to take the boxes to the shop and change them.
You think, crumbs, if the scorpions don’t take you out, the old muthi will!
Madame X is very efficient with her little book, the one that she writes things in, when she’s settling in a client.
In this case, it is you.
You’re very good at your job, you tell her.
Well, I’ve been doing it since I was 18 years old, she says, and raises her eyebrows.
She tilts her head slightly, and purses her lips a bit.
But her eyes don’t leave the page where she’s writing out how much you have paid, and what you still have to pay.
She tears it off, in a perfect line. No ragged edges here.
Then she leaves. Her house is closeby.
You spend the afternoon unpacking and opening and closing cupboard doors, to make sense of your environment.
Your writing room is beautiful: light and sunny.
But this morning you spill a cup of coffee on the table, on your papers, on the floor, as you open your laptop.
Everything’s sticky and wet. Papers are glued together in a soggy mess. You want to get back into bed.
Instead, you make a delicious breakfast, and you tell yourself, remember your mission, your goal.
You put on your takkies, the ones that go over the ankles.
Your right ankle is swollen, it needs the support. When you wear your takkies you don’t limp.
There’s nothing sexy about a limp!
Imagine Afrodykie limping across Eressos Square!
The woman at Portakali takes one look at your swollen eyes, and tells you you need tea, with honey in it.
It’s a big cup. Generous and open-faced.
It warms you, soothes you with its tender sweetness.
Still, you long for the dark and quiet of your bedroom. The silence, nothing.
You want it to envelop you.
An accepting silence … it asks nothing of you.
It comforts you. It must comfort you. It must ease you through this profound and damning insecurity.
Perhaps you’re homesick. Can it be?
Yesterday you tell Madame X you feel as if you could stay here, and never leave.
She turns and looks at you.
That’s what happened to me, she says.
I came with one suitcase and stayed forever.
ps: a power failure has delayed the posting of this blog today