Wednesday, 25 September 2013


The relentless tumble of life here, and suddenly it is September, and I have been here over six months, and it is starting, slowly, tentatively, in a two steps forward with the occasional lurch backward kind of way, to feel like home. Not fully, I still yearn for London, a dull longing that I am not sure will ever go away, and there are people I miss always, at times painfully so.

The week in August when I received news of a friend's engagement, a relationship begun on the green lawns of Cambridge, now to be life. An advance email with the news, before Facebook filtered it to impersonality. I was grateful for that at least. The same week, the news of another friend getting their dream job, the one they've been working towards for as long as I've known them. The sadness of knowing that you aren't there to celebrate either occasion, to raise a glass and punch the air and grin and grin and grin. Instead there is the moon, low and full and red above the water tower, the throb of cicadas and frogs to fill the night and the heavy weight of distance. 

The evening when a Congolese colleague, asks me if I like it here, if I am happy, I say, Oui, mais c' ne connais pas le mot en francais...'bittersweet'. Because I am here, here, in a courtyard in Africa, under an avocado tree, eating river fish and fried plantain, cassava leaves, to the light of candles in the growing darkness, but I am so, so, far from home.

A low point, a few weeks ago, just before going on leave to New York. The thought of being torn between two places for the next three years suddenly seeming like too much. S, a friend and colleague, says to me well, you could always quit, go back to London

As though that is an option. 

To leave here.

To leave the bats which dip and swoop over the red clay tennis courts, catching the insects drawn to the floodlit expanse. The moths as big as my hand which flap in confusion under these artificial moons.

To leave river sunsets. To leave the tumble of bougainvillea over whitewashed walls, or orange trumpet flowered creepers on telegraph poles.

To leave nights dancing and dancing on flashing dancefloors until the early hours. Crawling into bed at 5am, exhausted, utterly, but happy, unquestionably.

To leave hand painted advertisements, dusty roads. Rainfall heavy and sudden.

The work which can be undeniably hard, challenging, frustrating at times, but also ultimately absorbing, fascinating, satisfying. 

Hummingbirds in the office car park, jewel bright blurs between red flowers.

Mangoes, fallen from trees, smashed to an orange, fragrant pulp on the running circuit tarmac.  

No, it hadn't even crossed my mind. To consider leaving here already.

This is just the beginning.