A lot of things are great about the cold weather being here [I understand it is summer elsewhere, bear with me]. Things like socks, where we can now have them on all day and night without feet being too hot [or maybe it is you that is hot and socks can suck it]. Nights when it would get so uncomfortable in them that your toes have trained themselves to superhuman abilities of removing socks without help are long gone. Socks make everything better, and especially when it is cold. You can walk around without bothering about slippers in the house because, somehow, tiles are always cold, no matter the weather. It is particularly cold in my mothers’ house, where I have spent a lot of my “home time”. Now, with my own home, that is cold in its ways but not as cold, I find myself longing for home.
This longing is new. It is separate from the usual homesickness that I think I will forever have. Home is never really home. No one knows this better than the first born daughter. At 6 years old, you will hear it and not quite comprehend. You have to find your own home. You know, that lingering question on an aunt’s tongue, that they hold because they know you are prone to having answers on your tip. You know the one that comes with being a daughter and knowing without being told, that at 25, you need to have started a life. Your mother had, so why aren’t you? It comes with my realizing that now that I have a home separate from home, this may be it. My days of that cold abode being home are expanded to plural. It will never, even though it remains, truly be home. It is a daunting thought. To even put it out here like this.
The cold is great because of the quiet. I work in an industrial area and on a bright and sunny day, you can hear everything. July has been silent. I could hear more of my thoughts[I’m not sure I like it that much] and I find myself forgetting to plug in my earphones. To escape with a sad girl starter pack playlist because when it’s sunny, even the pin makes noise in hay. There is a lot of noise in Industrial Area, what with the elections coming. One particular #AmohNdioBest campaign truck is giving me a headache just thinking of it.
Buildings in Industrial Area are connected. You will know one warehouse from the other by the paint on its walls. The skyline is a continuous zigzag, connecting cement, flour, spare parts and other warehouse goods that I know not. Ours is not as such. Our building [singular, no zigzags], is a standalone five floor reptile that is cold even when the sun is in January. The parking lot at the basement is a hollow space fit to hold the cold and supply it up, only for the roof ventilators to pick and spin it right back to my frozen fingertips. Tap water is devastatingly cold, and don’t let me start with my ears if I don’t do a headwrap to rival an eskimo.
Industrial Area is a whole lot of what you think it is. It is men. In overalls, usually, and sometimes in hats. Men in navy blue and dark green overalls. Men who catcall and men who listen quietly as their colleagues catcall. It is women with clear buckets filled with fruit. Watermelons and pineapples in the sunshine, tea and mandazis when it freezes over. It is warehouses that are dark inside with the paint chipping by the door. It is dust by the one playground where boys play football matches in neon colored uniforms and dust by the tarmac where mechanics zoom past with cars they test drive. The drainage is terrible. And I’m not going to say much about it other than the tunnels are clogged and black and littered beyond what drainages should be.
Home, is a weird concept. I grew up with a lot of people in my home [well, the household I call home] There was always a cousin or aunt or nephew of someone that my mom either wanted to or was forced upon [she’s nicer, so she’ll say everyone was welcome]. This meant that privacy was the one thing I craved for as a child. To have the space I have now would be a constant daydream. In a two-bedroom house, we would be, at any given point, more than six individuals with a 4×6 bunk bed.
This being home for the longest time, I grew up with the idea that I would have countless homes when I was older. Numerous times, the conversation at home [often when my parents were away] was of people leaving this place I knew as home. Moving out. Not a day went by without a snide or nice comment of “I can’t wait to be at my house. Kwangu.” Kwangu (My place) quickly morphed to something I dreamed of. I stopped wishing these people out, and started creating my own four walls.
For a long time, I had just the walls. The reason for this, I do not have time to dissect. What is important, however, is that I had walls that were mine, albeit intangible. My extremely active imagination came to play. I had blank unpainted walls, as I listened to stories of people wanting sewing rooms and swimming pools. I was content with my four walls. Everyone else was calling for white furniture and fully furnished kitchens. It was here that the idea of a dishwasher was planted in my head. The idea of plates cleaning themselves blew my mind, being the main dishwasher at the time.
For a long time, home was four blank walls, while my home was covered with dreams of machines and irrelevance. Now, if any of those who lived and shared their dreams of home while in my home are here, I am in no way belittling your dreams of home [I have learned that sometimes, my words are taken out of context. I mean nothing by this, except for the facts of the matter. But also, did I lie?] If anything, yours were much bigger than my nothingness.
Then I got my first four walls in my second year at campus and had my heart broken in them. Now, in these four walls that I have called home, I contemplate a lot of things, like, is Amoh really the best? Amoh who has hired a truck full of university age girls to twerk for a crowd? Amoh, who is asked about water and responds by buying alcohol for those at a drinking hole at 2pm? Will this be home after Amoh is on the ballot? Will it be as cold as last year?