This blog is all about trying to find the right language to help us explain and express our emotions and blue is the colour, for me, that best gives us a way into the language of exploring such feelings and thoughts.
The blue of distance
I was ten and we were driving from Beitbridge on the great Limpopo River into the vast expanse of a beautiful country. Our destination was Harare.
I was mesmerised by the hills in the distance. They were the bluest hills I had ever seen and they jumped and danced in the shimmer of the African heat. Their blueness expressed a beauty that was almost impossible to describe. Up close, I could have told you about the detail because then the clarity of the terrain and topography would have been discernible.
That blue meant something unreachable almost. Its colour fades as you journey towards it. I almost want the blue to never go away and so prefer not to travel into it. The mystery is evocative and keeps us guessing.
Blue is the colour of distance and, in this instance, journeying along the pretty lonely road, my memory gives a feeling of a time and place. I think I was unusual for a youngster because the landscape even then held me hostage: it is the Great Unknown and the Uncertain and a country faraway. When ever my memory tacks to that country, the blue always jumps out because the eye can see far. The sky is big, the land mighty.
Since then, I have discovered that blue can be exquisitely beautiful even in the midst of pain.
I look back to one visit – I was older – in the Eastern Highlands, where looking across the valley at Nyanga, the blueness was deceptive because the reality was quite different. That part of the countryside was in a state of insurrection with insurgents fighting the regime. If you had ventured into those gorgeous hills you would have had a torrid time and possibly, probably would not come out alive unless you had your wits about you.
The memory is in parenthesis.
(Outside of these brackets, the origins of that journey must have taken the risk into account.)
I simply only remember that the context was madness, foolhardy even – the loneliest road on the planet.
The war was everywhere. My skin was drenched in fear. I hid it, even from myself. We drove through a valley washed in intoxicating beauty. Those blue hills were up close.
At any moment, the cadres could appear on the road, bristling with their AK47s, barking out their cry of freedom. Their blood was up.
The wind strangled our voices and we shouted above the engine din of the buggy, miles away from any beach. (Off-road dune ramping were left long ago in the innocence of youth.)
The sound accelerated into the silence of the hills from which eyes watched, startled in the blue sky painted in an African October. Not one car passed us and I knew that this was the craziest thing I had ever done.
The arrival at the destination came briefly in a whisper. Fortunately no deaths were reported. We had diced with something that was way beyond us.
I often ride back into that parenthesis of time in the yellow buggy that has taken up a residence in my memory and I am still unsure what to make of it.