A Return to iKapa and Back Yet Again [retroactive-dispatch no.I]

Already, ever already, back in Lucerne, back home, back in winter, a climate-changedly clement winter, maybe back to my old ways&means-of-transport, maybe not, I hope, knowing the energizing powers of change. As in genuine change, not Obama change. When I first returned to hither shores [the Kloten runway swinging up at us from under an early January cloud cover, then snow-fringed landscape], the first few visual hours were covered in a fin thilm, a thin film of unfamiliarity.

But unfamiliarity is not exactly the right expression, not the right skin to cover reality in. Unhomeliness: I was feeling not quite at home. I had a sense of being caught off guard a bit, like I had been paying perhaps too close attention to Cape Town and now here, out of the blue-grey-black-white-blue of intercontinental travel [as witnessed through those tiny 777 windows], now here suddenly was Lucerne again. My eyes and brain and skin were still adapted to Capetonian sensory stimuli but then have been obliged to re-adapt to the old circumstances faster than they were quite used to. Only the muscle memory always seems to know exactly what to do: walk there, do that, say that, turn that, walk back, insert coin, open that door, etc. The muscle memory is the foundation of modern civilization and our ability to travel intercontinentally. W. Gibson has the beautiful image of our soul dangling below and far behind the jetliner, then being slowly reeled in when we arrive on whatever other continent may be the case, a veritable soul-lag.


But in my case that does not apply – instead my eyes/brain/skin are simply overtaxed by the jump-shift of nowadays’ aerospatial jaunts. My resulting sensation is and still is Unhomeliness, a feeling of not quite being at home. And yet simultaneously there is an ur-broth part of the brain or of each bloody cell of my body that knows beyond doubt that it is in fact back home, back in Luciaria. From this admixture of Unhomeliness and physically being at home springs the evidently more conventional Freudian feeling of the “unheimlich”, the uncanny. But what is there to feel uncanny about? The same, squatting small-town houses as ever [in my temporally foreshortened view of things], the chill [but strangely not gelid] January air that precedes Simone’s and Sipho’s B-days [and the beloved, giddily anticipated air of march’s ides], the sense that I have been in this place for the longer part of eternity [and will ever be drawn back to it, like a crazed, sentient space-craft, yearning for inter-super-clusteral space, looking to beyond the observable universe but never quite attaining escape velocity], all familiar, all known but all covered in the flimsy film of the uncanny.

Unheimlich then also entering into our apartment, as S, my vastly better half, has restored a decent degree of Negentropy so that things look unlike when I took off trailing behind me an eddie of disorderliness; Unheimlich, this work by my one true fay. And even just that things, these worldly goods I live with, are still there, patient and loyal and unbothered by the settling motes and the passage of an unknown quantity of days, awaiting the day of my return to renew our collaboration in the order of things.

• • •

My sister Nomsa’s and my brother-i.l. Raymond’s Wedding was a splendid affair. I usually hold that I am not a big lover of weddings but, quite to the contrary, every wedding I have attended in the last two or three times ‘round the sun has been from good to fabulous. Among these, Nonhi&Ray’s nuptials easily take the cake. For one, there was the location: the RoundHouse on the wooded, arid slopes above a gorgeously green gorge and the bracing Indian Ocean, down below frothing onto the beaches [camps bay in this case] of CapeTown. There must have been a couple of dozen fingers crossed for good weather and the Sommelier [yeah, I know, right, but this one time the decadence felt quite right] had informed us that all of the Espousals they had had thus far had always been blessed by pure blue. As far as my memory works [or doesn’t] only the first day [22nd of December] was somewhat cloud-tinted, thereafter the sun started seriously beating up on anything daring to make a move on the heart of blueness, zapping the meanest cumuli before it reached its noon throne.

And thus and so the 29th was indeed a scorch-fest non–pareil. One of the few places with shade was on the steep drive between the lawns and a lounge area, so that is where people congregated, while the bubbly buffet beguiled them from the lower lawn, offering only a petty splotch of shade. Even our South African relatives, or particularly them who are well-acquainted with the cunningly brutal sunshine of iKapa, initially forwent the champagne for shadow’s sake. This is when I first felt compelled to exercise my duty as one of a triumvirate of M.C.s [Andre, Sipho, me], grabbed the closest flute, dinged it with a knife and briefly reminded the audience just how lovely and soothing a glass of spumante would be on such an unforgiving day. It took very little persuading for them to begin staggering down that precipitous maybe even slippery slope towards the bubbling, glittering flutes.

One of the notable things about this wedding is, how it was totally the opposite yet eerily similar [in terms of time] to an accident. Like an accident, from my view, it compressed events through the small aperture of a moment. Except that the accident’s moment lasts an instant and the wedding’s lasted half a day, though it still felt fundamentally like a single moment in time and that the outcome, in contrast with the accident, was entirely, surpassingly positive. [Aira quote]. The same goes for the preparations: it’s been a year since the two announced their union in Barbatti, yet 90% of the preparations were taken care of in the last 48 hours. That very morning, my brain having been ultra-viol[e/a]ted and bereft of sleep, I at last allowed myself to sit for half-an-hour and jot down what had taken shape vaguely in the early hours of the morning. Meanwhile, Andre was putting together a highly entertaining short-film conveying congrats of those Helveticoes left behind, all the while Sipho and Sarah, as far as I can tell, were furiously folding away at hyper-elaborate Origami table name-tags. And I’m certain Nomsa, Raymond, our parents, DjLebo, the staff of the RoundHouse and many more were embroiled in some last-hour, formicidaeic activity. As for myself, I was just trying to condense a year of almost not preparing anything into the precious time left, a comparative moment. Given the right means though, what comes after the moment, the outcome, to me is what matters in the long run: resplendent memories to last a life-time, plus the actual matrimony of Raymond and Nomsa, plus a most likely one-off mass-meeting of our South African and Swiss families. Moreover, the union of hearts is always an accident-al affair.

My sister and the father-of-the-bride arrived on the scene sun-burningly late; the party of five dozen had taken their seats fifteen minutes earlier and now were simmering in their own juices and licking their lips, their postures a call for water and shade. Nomsa’s dress was improbably perfect: as light as the temperature demanded, of a subtle floral cut that echoed our wildly botanic surroundings, attuned to the light of the city and that particular day.


Then, in a way unexpectedly, came my moment in the sun. Except, well, that the whole point of that brief speech was that it was not my but our moment. True, it was my mouth that flapped open and closed, my vocal cords that vibrated, etc. but simultaneously I just very simply felt totally together with the people sitting there, smiling benevolently, making all those little noises of approval, coming up with funny interjections, nodding their heads, letting me know that the speaking was going well. In other words: it was a totally collective effort, which allowed me to say the nice and solemn and comical things people perhaps were looking forward to hearing. So that the lovely plaudits received thereafter were in fact a reciprocation, an echo of an event that had been mutual, collaborative, collective all along.


Thereafter came the true, true main event, which, though it was accompanied by many words, in that deep space of the infinite moment, happily excuses itself from the company of thoughts or words or even photographs. Unbound by time it is. What rose to the surface from somewhere inside that moment is the both of them, Nomsa and Raymond, saying “I do” three times, triple the usual by my count.  


…there is more, rest assured and distressed…


– – –


About tmabona

writer, reader [bolano, DW, bellow, deLillo], runner, badmintoneer
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