Sunday, 3 October 2010

Beating the heat

Brief: Write a piece on a childhood memory the photo inspires in you...
Photograph provided by The Red Dress Club
The photograph as well as its title inspired my post today. I can remember some of my fondest childhood memories being around water. From my dad teaching us how to swim in our back garden, to holidays in Mauritius and Australia to Cape Town and of course going home to Malawi and driving past the beautiful like that bares its name. Of all these memories I remember best being a child in an African village playing in a brook filled with dirty waters and rolling around in the mud banks during the summer school holiday. I was raised in the city  in a middle class environment and there was little that we lacked growing up from basic needs like food and shelter to luxuries like holidays abroad and gifts at Christmas and on birthdays. We were a better than average family in relation to material worth and social standing yet many of our relatives struggled and were poor...

As I got older I understood our family history better and could see why the disparity was so distinct. My parents were both hard working 'self motivated over achievers' from working class families in rural Africa. One starting from a little village in northern Malawi near Ekwendeni; the other from a farm in a place called Mutoko, Zimbabwe. Twelve years apart they began their journey with similar vision, drive and determination;  inquisitiveness and desire to have more at the end of their lives than when they began. The goal, to leave a legacy to their children. Their paths seemed destined to not only cross but merge into one in spite of or maybe propelled by the odds, daring life to hinder their course. Not not overcome or derailed by setbacks and challenges each passing through seasons of marriage, divorce, death, exile, children, boarders or languages. All resulting in the life they gave my siblings and I... their audacious request made of life as they built and climbed out of the state of their birth caused them to arrive  much like the victors baring the spoils of war. Vision realised and goals met they never lost touch or contact with their villages and families, helping those they left behind and doing so with a humility that often shrouded their success.

So much so were my parents true to their roots that my happiest childhood 'water'  memories are not placed in an exclusive holiday resort in exotic locations. It is not in our home with a full length swimming pool in the garden or the gifts and toys and television viewing. It is those spent at the brook at the far side of the village where I spent many summers playing freely in the dirty waters and mud with the village children in rural Malawi without a sign of comfort, luxury or expense in sight... My parents 'beat the heat' that is set firmly under the less fortunate, stewing them in place, fixating them on their hunger, keeping their focus on what lies before them rather that allowing them to lift up their eyes to a different perspective, one that allows them to have a vision and make an audacious request of life. In so doing they taught me to be content in whatever state I find myself but to never settle for less than I know I have in me to achieve.

1 comment:

  1. What amazing memories and perspective. I can tell you are - rightly - very proud of your parents.



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