Monday, 7 March 2005

heart of the matter

Sitting with my back against the radiator and the curtains drawn, there is monotony about the noise coming from the street. Holding a book with a beautiful pale green cover, I am gone.

I am holding colonial secrets, reminding me of the time I flew over Dar-Es-Salaam with no windshield and a faulty regulator, but this book is all about the police and the corruption, and the hot lazy weather that conceals the movement of the hours. The lions upon the verandas keep you alert, and if you close your eyes for a moment there is only scrubland, as far as you can bear to see, squinting against the midday’s ferocity, while jeeps kick up great mountains of dust just above the desert bed.

And in the middle of this, the giant rock of the desert, there is an imperfection, a puncture wound that dips beneath the surface. Under the overhang of a grey plant-covered rock, that has points that jut like a blacksmith’s anvil but as tall as a three-storey house is the depths of a plunge pool. Entirely shaded and unfeasibly cool, we would swim there in the late afternoon having slept at our typewriters, the flies clouding the horizon, shirts hanging slack in the still air.

All of which is quite ridiculous in this particular wretched dry heat, coming as it does in the tail-end of winter in the northern hemisphere. The heat remains though, a product of thermostat and so I rise to take liquids and open a window, the air is scratching at my throat. There is a conundrum here; a night of fresh air, or an early morning awakening, up with the rush hour.

I turn the pages and resume, returning to a real heat.

I take lengthy strokes in the pool, hauling myself forward in great sweeping glides, kicking out with strong legs, occasionally sinking just beneath the surface and holding my breath.

I love the shallows.

No comments: