I wrote this a while ago when one day a vivid memory from my childhood in South Africa popped into my mind. I loved and still love South Africa and always felt a great sense of loss when we moved away, I was eight at the time. Any memories I have of that time feel very special to me and magical.
Like an ancient Chinese warrior clad in brilliant green armour, it rested, still and patient in the little girl’s gently cupped hand. Squatting amongst the flowers and with that familiar squelchy feeling of moisture between thigh and knee the girl gazed appreciatively at the creature, absorbed by its intricate beauty, not wish it any harm but wanting to befriend and love it. Both still like statues whilst high above the sun beat down warming her freckled shoulders and glistening on the creature’s leaf like exterior. The distant sound of ground being toiled did not distract or induce fear into either. They were missing in their moment.
Years later the grown girl would squirm and recoil at the thought of seeking out and holding a praying mantis, disbelief in her own choice of pass times aged seven. But that world she had then lived in was a more wonderful and magical place, one that now seemed to exist only in myths and legends. A land that smelt of the warm earth on which it rested and where colourful people lived extraordinary lives. Her memories bore affection and the colour red, red like the knitted jumper in the photograph her pen pal owned, her aged seven with her hair in pigtails and a gappy smile. Daddy had made lots of fun of here that Christmas repeatedly singing that annoying song “all I want for Christmas is my two front teeth”. It was their last Christmas there.
Red like the sunset across the open sky, red like the flowers in that beautiful garden which had once been hers, red like the blood on a scuffed knee. Red and warm like the soil beneath her daily bare, naked feet in a land so far far away. The same earth beneath her bare naked feet as she sat there, in that flower bed, on that day.
Beyond the flowerbed, the garden sloped away, the grass prickly and dry, thirsty in places. At night the tick tick ticking of the sprinklers would try to resuscitate the crops of brown whilst lullaby the little girl to sleep, but for now they patched the grass like Dalmatian spots, frazzled and crisp. The inclining lawn came to a close at a drawn stone line, crazy paving; the paving met by blue tiled mosaic, the mosaic dropped down into open azure, the swimming pool. The jewel in the crown of their oasis.
That day as the diamonds danced across the pool, a soft warm breeze breathed a loving embrace amongst those there and there was happiness in that garden, in that day at that moment just happiness.
I’ve linked this up with Magic Moments over at The Oliver’s Madhouse