Dear 2008 You

You finally arrive, 302 words long and 29 days late, a crumpling of phrases between the many gifts and the longings of those left behind.

It is 2008, and our conversation is yet to ride the waves of the internet. Like a bird that seeks to beat a fast-moving train, it is getting harder to pick up where we left off. No matter how furiously we scurry and scribble through each page, our letters tarry to the finish line, lagging three months behind, responding to a stadium that has long emptied. For time does not wait for us, its bulging limbs are fast outgrowing the arms of the clock that has not stirred since the hour of my departure a decade ago.

Still, I breathe you in, searching your dried sprawls for the wafts of my country that cling to you like freshly hung laundry. With each gust of memory and anecdote, your voice billows upwards, curved masts sailing through the browns and greys of my room. I curl myself into your faded flames, which linger with the scent of the roasted chestnuts and watermelon seeds. The u-shape of my grandfather’s garden clasps its belts around my hips and I tower among our stories, layer upon layer, grooved by the olived hands, muddied boots and bent backs of our men and women.

Home, home, home.

My words slip between the safety of your net, drowned by a culture that does not know the aching cold of your snow-capped mountains, nor the defiant smiles of your wearied people.  

Yet I can not help but smile, for in a few days, I will make the 14-hour track back through time and space, upwards against gravity to welcome the new year by your side.

And though I know too many seasons have passed for me to slide my widened hips into the mothballed clothes neatly packed away in your ageing closets; though the eloquence of thoughts once streaming fluidly in our mother tongue now stand dammed and lost in the polarity of our existence, a part of me will always remain rooted in the fertile redness of your earth, germinated by the winds that flute between your proud cedars.

A part of me will always call you home. 

 This article was first published on 14 July 2016