Friday, July 25, 2008

the roar of blood in the head

I should have enjoyed it while i could. The silence in the skull. Soon after that post it developed into a chatter and then a steady clamour and hasn't really quieted down since.

Many reasons:
The Malawi trip.
I leave on Sunday for 21 days in Malawi, traveling around with the UN to write about their work there. My mind is clattering with the falling clutter of old images. Like when you take a long neglected box from a top shelf and all the shit up there comes down with it and lands on your head. I unconsciously packed my bag full of skirts! Why because when I was at school in the late '80's in Blantyre, it was the tail end of the reign of Kamuzu Hastings Banda and girls had to wear skirts below the knee, no trousers and be pictures of modesty and decorum. Which of course we were - gin swigging, Life cigarette smoking bright young things.

I haven't spent much time in Malawi since the days of my blue skirt and a head full of learning. There was a research trip in 1998, when I was doing my Masters. And a Lake House trip in 2000. I'm swarming with pictures unburying themselves. Even Facebook doesn't haul out this much old garbage.
The walk from school to town on a dusty Saturday morning. The shortcut, past the Anglican church and the graveyard full of longdead mzungus. Picking green guavas from the trees along the way.
Dreary weekends in Lilongwe after I had been kicked out of school. Walking to the American library and sucking up hours worth of reading on the Russian Revolution.
Always walking. Always dusty shoes and being offered lifts by dodgy men.
The inexhaustable hospitality of my extended foster family, the Osmans (another post another time) and samoosas with green tomato chutney.

The Fight
I'm sure it's the same in all relationships. There's one Big Issue that strikes like tinder, triggering old hurts for both of you. Some primal wound that you have that he or she has the opposite of, and they spoon together like razor wire. Playwrights understand this. How we all have one or two fundamental needs, and we're not necessarily attracted to the someone who can fulfil the need as we want it to be filled (I believe we can only really do this ourselves) but someone who will help you to heal the wound. And sometimes the bone has to be rebroken to be set again.

You know - you crave approval, s/he doesn't give it to you in the exact form you require.
All you want is belonging - the group, being a part of it. All s/he wants is solitude, individuality.

With us, the Fight is always about Going Away - childhood abandonment injuries dovetail neatly with the Sagittarian flight response. Ooh, its a pretty festival of love and leaving I tell you. Reminds me of that song "Everytime you go away, you take a piece of me[at] with you". But this time I think we've cracked it. This time i think I get what its about for me and interestingly its all to do with boarding school - the weirdness of Leaving vs Being Left and how going away to school is both, and how a child doesn't get that and knots it all up in her head - who is really doing the leaving here? And why do we fight with the people we love at airports? So perhaps this trip to Malawi represents more than just a nicely paid gig. Perhaps an old dragon can be put to rest. Perhaps I'll do it in trousers. Damn. I gave my chitenge away in the refugee bundles.

The Party
Before I go, dear friend Dion is leaving for Nwarlins to take up a teaching post at Tulane. I am so happy for him but as more and more of my friends leave for distant parts of the globe I feel like the Prestik Girl - pieces of me are being pulled and stretched and warped. One string stretching all the way to Sweden, another wrapped around Arusha, a long arm with globule attached to the tiny island of Lamu. A couple of tentacles lashed to London.
So we're throwing him a party tonight. Cajun blackened chicken and gumbo and hurricanes. There might just be some hefty drinking.

The Play
Its almost finished. And the closer I get to saving it as Final Draft, the louder the voices get. "Oh come on, you're not ending it like that are you". "I don't think he Would Do That". "Is that character really well rounded enough?" "Isn't it too wordy"
etc etc etc.
And then last night I went to see Ten Bush, at the Market theatre. Witchcraft, ancestral curses, beautiful staging a la theatre de complicite. I was totally drawn in, and it made me shiver. It also just confirmed for me some of the choices I've made (I also dip into worlds of dreams, curses, deadpeople still alive, events that repeat themselves, strange things that spring from strange wombs). It reminded me why I'm drawn to the ritual aspects of theatre. That extraordinary ability that a certain kind of theatre has, to transmute reality. All the trans words, actually. Transform, transubstantiate, translate, transfigure, transgress, transpire and entrance.

Well done to Mncendisi Shabangu and Craig Higginson. This has helped to negotiate with the roar in my head. Now onto the serious business of how to make a hurricane. This is also an important magical ritual you understand - we have to protect D from the very real threat of future Katrinas, Ivans and whatever they will call the ones to come - George, maybe. Or Laura.

1 comment:

Miranda said...

Tam, wish I was going with you to Malawi. Have fun. Greet the ghosts.