Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Lovable, affordable

It's a sparkling automn day here in the lowlands, golden sunlight is seeping through the white curtains, and the air will be fresh and crisp when I emerge from the cluttered yet cozy apartment and let my well worn sneakers beat on the dappled pavements. Then I will rush home, it will be already after 10.00, and hope in the shower, ignoring the water that rises above the clogged drain, towel myself dry and rush out on my rusty little bike to work. I'll be sitting alone in my room with a nunch of papers, typing away, waiting for a text message from my brother, who is hopping on the Eurostar to come see me after more than a year in which we haven't met. P. will work until 17.00, and I will leave work and go home to some schedueled sex. After that I'll start cleaning and preparing the place for my brother, and P. will go to the supermarket. We might wait for my brother or start dinner ourselves, and if we do that we'll watch Little Britain on DVD because the antena's broke and we can't watch the olypmics.

At some point in the day, there will probabaly be some rain, even a heavy shower. I'll also have to call the tax office and speak my poor, halted Dutch with them. I'll try to register for another Dutch course, they are beginning in a couple of weeks, hoping that this one will finally take me to a level of comfort. I'll have to bug our estate agent to bog to plumber who is long over due to fix a leak on the roof that makes the bedroom smell like old laundry. I'd probably have to sort out some other things as well; we're trying to get better housing and I need to fill out some forms for which I don't have all the information, which is hiding in scattered letters here and at work.

I probably won't run into my boss today. If I see him it's rarely unscheduled and usually no more than once a fortnight. But if I do, he'll be really nice, like everyone I meet at work.

In Zimbabwe, my friend will struggle to feed herself and to maintain her job under a tryant, explosive employer. Under the constant flap of his threatening wings, she may or may not think of the much darker presents the permeats the entire country like a thick toxic smog crawling close to the ground, suffocating the lower strata first before rising to the middle and upper crusts. Deducing characters from features is primitive and prejudiced, but Mugabe's face is a clich├ęd typecast of the powerdrunk, deranged dictator. There is nothing behind those beady eyes but greed and hate, so much so that the Hitler mustache is entirely redundant to the role.

Later that day, my friend will scramble for any spare change left over from her meager salary, after spending almost all of it on outrageously overpriced, cheaply produced, unnourishing food, extortionist shared taxi fare to work, and unrealistic rent for a mildewed cement box with a festering communal shithole behind it. A real shit hole, not what I used to refer to back when I couldn't find half decent accomodation here. Whatever is left over, she will send to her family, half of which is diagnosed with AIDS.

I tell myself that I can't send money again. I don't have any social security here, my salary is close to a minimum, flight fares have risen by 50% and almost everything else has inflated as well. I need to save for the future, and the fact that I can save anything is notable in itself. I have helped B with his surgery, and have sent her a nice round sum before, much higher than even I expected, except what is the point of helping if you don't do enough, if you hold back. But it's gone, of course it's gone. She is not the type to keep it to herself. But I can't carry them all on my shoulders. I can't. I donate spare meds, I get spare meds and rip off my insurance (insofar as insurances can be ripped off which is as trivial as a flee bite on a mamoth) precisely so I can donate them, at least now I do, because before I was saving for an uncertain future. And it's still pretty uncertain. I need that money. But people are dying. But I walk on the light side. There are millions upon millions upon millions under me. I walk upon them, floating on their convulsing bodies. They help me float, they help this whole continent to float, and on some tiny corner of it, I suckle to sustain myself, my love, my relationships, my modest successes, my health, my well being, my parents, whose well-being can feed on that of my own, finally. I nourish myself, and someone is dying. Millions are. But someone that I know is, someone I wrote words to. Exchanges confidences with. And how can I celebrate when that happens. But how much is enough, how much will keep a finger in the dam, how much will enable me to open up my heart to happiness, and live with it. How much is bullshit, words that should not be spoken or written but turned into deeds, into money orders, into hard tangible currency. Can you love someone, and not afford to help them, or are you lying to yourself so you can love yourself, so you can let yourself be someone who is lovable?

I put my sneakers on.

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