Train ride home

The longest journey you will make in your life is from your head to your heart. Native American saying

The train ride home with you after a day out in buzzing London town, having caught a bit of culture and fun – Viennese portraiture of Klimt and Schiele, expertly explained –  and decaf tea and a pastry, just down from Covent Garden. And then a bus journey to east London to feast on the excitement of Brick Lane. What fun we had. The rhythm of the train takes me back to another train ride heading home after the varsity vac. Then – I was a long-haired youth – and the train clicked and clacked and my bare legs – in the evening scorching heat – stuck to the plastic seats. None of this relative comfort through pastoral England. You doing the impossible Guardian crossword. Me staring into the past: back then – Joshua Nkomo’s men  – in the name of freedom – had blown up the rail line a couple of days before and I wondered aloud – not to be too dramatic – if the home-coming would end in a pile of tangled metal. Funny how that train ride home – despite the dangers – evokes a longing for the touch and sight of a countryside of my youth silhouetted against a sky drop that if it could talk, what would it have said?


© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame [Originally published 2013 (adapted)]

Flights


It’s good morning, blue sky. A beautiful day on the Sunshine Coast. Strange how my heart is lifted by the silver bird heading south, way in the far distance, a vapour trail. That’s where we should have been next weekend. The great big south, all night across Africa, away from northern’s autumn. Mozart in my ear, a distraction from the cattle class, squashed, herded together, scrunched up knees. I would dream of Africa in the night, yellow Sahara, silent below. Then the rain forests and the great rivers, wild and wide and, at arrivals, the morning laughter and hustle, emerging into another blue sky with the promise of summer’s warmth holidaying in the sun, catching up, sounding local, all familiar, but now strangely foreign.


Fading light


The lingering lightness of the memory of Aprils in Africa; it comes back to me in a half-dream of exquisite hope. I sit and scan the oceans. Thoughts came across the seas with the white horses. I yearn for the smell of Africa after the rain. I am intoxicated by the thought. The sun suddenly goes out and a cold wind catches the breath. The yearning for a place lost whispers me into my older life. Strangely I feel at peace and delight that I have had these experiences in a far-off land. The thought wraps itself around me in the rising mist of the English coast and I am reminded of the beauty of the world in the fading light.


Originally written in 2014. Slightly adapted.

Reunion


When we arrive at the airport, will you be waiting for us dressed in the colours of the union and waving flags purchased in London town. You know the ones you trophied during the good old days before they were sullied. We will emerge wrapped in sunglasses – not quite Police ones – wide-eyed at any rate in the African sun – ready with our talking irons and the mother of all catch ups sizzling on the charcoals. We can get worked up into a lather about White House nationalists and blond blusterers, knowing we will change nothing. We will feel a whole lot better though, putting the world to rights over a very cold glass of Backsberg chenin blanc – although I think you prefer a good red – and rump steaks on the braai. We can sit and idle away the time, re-living childhoods that only we remember. No matter what, we will head for Hoekwil and over a Victoria sponge (go big or we go home) and Cakey will be satisfied.

© Rick Frame


Origin story

Originally written as four separate blogs, joined together as each new day dawned, I thought it might be a good idea to bring them altogether on one page.


I come from a place four hundred miles from the mountains of the moon, she said. Exactly the same place I come from, I said.


Beginnings

You would be forgiven if looking at me, you came to the conclusion I am an older male, probably white British until I open my mouth and you’d hear a twang. My existence is not in being an older, white male but rather it is in my history and ancestry calling right back to my countless grandmothers on the savannah, keeping generations of my forbears safe so I can be here today, with all my own messy history, starting with my white settler parents.

Ancestors

I love my mom, I suppose my dad, although I have not always been entirely sure about him – my white setter parents. I never saw them thus, identified as such, – they were more than that – I chose those words now in gaining purchase to offer an understanding of where I started out. It is always messy, our history. People sometimes ask where I come from, when they hear me: naturally curious, kind. I suppose they may well have asked my ancestral grandmother the same question. I wonder what she would have said.

Starlit

Stardust, I would like to imagine she said. She would only have known by looking around at the savannah sky and thorn trees and the rising sun explaining her beginnings. But the immediate experience is what we think. The wildness of the love after the feast and the dancing in the firelight in the heat and dust of a starlit African night, drawn ever together by stardust.

Universe

I come from a place four hundred miles from the mountains of the moon, she said. Exactly the same place I come from, I said. Our shared experience is reflected in the skin freckled by the African sun, and the memories of childhood. Reaching right back, after the arrival of the first sprinkles of stardust to this spot in the universe and the breath that gave us life, our skin would’ve been that of the first humans who roamed freely on the savannah, sharing the excitement of our wildness under the wide-eyed sky and, in the far distance, beckoning – the mountains of the moon.