Oh Hello, Halloween
Somebody call the plumber. I’m in need of a suction device that’s strong enough to plunge itself deeper than I wish to go, in order to retrieve the most unsavoury thing clogging up the natural flow of words within my pipes. Unblock me please. This grimy job requires a professional. Someone with the skills, the tools and the patience. The nonchalant nature towards what will be discovered and the right attire to brave the backwash that’s to come. I’ve attempted enough DIY tricks over the past few months, to no avail. The first online tutorial was all about how to reposition the main stack. So I moved my office from the kitchen table to a fold out shelf in a large cupboard in the dining room. From that to a café, to the car, to bed (oh come on), to the balcony and back to the kitchen table. Still blocked. Next tutorial told me to change the supply line. Whiskey to wine to water and back to whiskey. Cklobbed. Manipulate the vent, it said. Vinyasa three times a week, walking the parks, cycling the city, and even the odd jog around the block. More swimming through more thoughts. Last attempt on my own was to broaden the drain line. So I called in the neighbours and made friends out of strangers. I listened to what they had to say on the subject and drained the shit out of my auxiliary stack. Only for the blockage to be exacerbated by the rinsing of their glasses at the end of each night.
Drama aside, if that’s possible with me, I haven’t been failing at everything. I can still write words for other people and their brands. But on the topic of my onions, I’ve had a hard time peeling back their layers and chopping them open. Last night things got drastic. I lit all the candles I could find, put on some Enigma, and called on the higher powers to enlighten me. I allowed the beats and the breaths that bellowed from the Bose, to enrapture and possess my poise. Topping up my supply line from time to time, and manipulating the vent via waving motions of dance, I tranced myself into writer’s thought. But all that ensued from the Voice of Enigma, in accordance with the titles of their tracks, were further affirmations on the Age of Loneliness. Silence must be heard in order for me to Return to Innocence. I must look into the Eyes of Truth, follow the Rivers of Belief, Beyond the Invisible, Push the Limits, Mea Culpa, Amen. Alrighty, then. Mea culpa indeed. Time to face the music. Time to face the fears that come from confronting the ghosts of my past. The ones that haunt me now like they did when I was young. Perhaps this has been my long-standing issue all along; I’ve been running from the spirits instead of confronting them. I have forgotten the fundamental rule on how to deal with the living dead.
Madame Ovary taught us how to handle ghosts. She would always sense them whenever we moved into a new house. Some were friendly Caspars and some not so friendly Caspars. Our first mission would be to hot-box the house with Impepho, otherwise known as white sage, to set the spirit free. If it was a stubborn soul, we’d have to soften our approach by welcoming it, introduce ourselves, and proclaim our intentions as joint residents. Number one rule: Remember this was their space before it was ours. Number two: Like with wild animals in the bush, always show total and utter respect, without ever letting them sense your fear, for they are way more entitled and powerful than us. Number three: Whatever you do, never tell it to piss off. Because the only thing it’ll be pissing off after that request is you. Number four: Kindly ask it to leave. If it doesn’t, just try to ignore it.
There weren’t ghosts in every home we lived in, but they certainly did occupy enough of them. Some would stay and some would go. One was powerful enough to make us go. It was the previous tenant of a house in Borrowdale, a North-Eastern district of Harare, that we lived in for about a year. I can’t remember how Madame Ovary found this pearler of a palace, but like with all of our homes, she always, somehow, managed to disguise our rags in rich real estate. The house sat on one level with four bedrooms, a couple of bathrooms, a large open-plan living area which opened out onto an overgrown garden that had a sunken swimming pool slash sandpit. It was an absolute steal with great potential. Enough acres for our dogs Forrest (Gump) and Jed (named after the initials of Madame Ovary’s children – the letter ‘C’ didn’t work) to roam. As well as the new pet baby goat called Kiddo. Mummy had rescued him from the side of the road, somewhere along the move, from the previous property to the new one.
We moved in, hot-boxed the place, said our hellos, pleaded our good-byes and tried to ignore the bitch of bad energy that defiantly occupied the space. But there was no ignoring her. She was a force to be reckoned with, and apparently there to stay. She didn’t care for darkness so would open the curtains voluntarily, whilst we were casually playing a game of monopoly on our sporadic family-bonding days. All shits and giggles in the beginning, but quickly turned to no giggles only shits. She’d openly show her disdain for our choice in music and turn the volume down on the stereo, as if Alexa was in the building, way before her time. One evening, the phone, which had not yet been connected to an outside line, starting ringing from the half unpacked box it was still sitting in. Not once, but three times. All hairs in the house on end, hollering hello-howzit, I tell you. She liked to linger at the back of Madame Ovary’s dark blue velvet (built in; not her choice) walk-in closet. In the quiet hours of the night, when all kids, including Kiddo, were sleeping, an aggressive shuffle of coat hangers would occur, waking mummy with the thuds of clothing falling to the floor. “Who’s that?” She’d shout. “What are you doing? Debra! Colleen! Emma! James!”, she’d investigate. Only to get us all up and out of bed investigating the situation with her. Often we’d discuss the probability of it simply being the wind, so long into the early hours of the morning, that we’d need another family-bonding day to recover from the lack of sleep. Every single evening, at intermittent intervals, the reception on the small black television in mummy’s bedroom would suddenly turn fuzzy and static, emitting a harsh, ear-piercing hissing sound. The drums of Nhau Indaba were replaced by the beat from our hearts as we all lay on the bed, interrupted by some other broadcast, from some other realm. Technical issues? Aerial issues? A house full of women and PMT energy issues? You tell me. But tell me this, while we’re at it, how does a dormant water pipe, inactive for about 10 years, turn itself on and flood the kitchen? No fault with the plumbing. Not with the main stack, the supply line, or the vent. No blockage and no bursting. The following day, as we waded through the water, mopping up the damage, we accepted the plumber’s conclusion, that the pipe had simply turned itself on.
We felt her presence, witnessed her behaviour, and succumbed to being haunted. It started affecting our lives to the point where we discovered that food was missing from our fridge, fuel was missing from our car and family bonding days were needed more often than normal. She even started stealing my homework and putting it somewhere I could never find. Dollar turned to the bible. Emma started swimming in the sandpit. Masterpiece began to swear and Kiddo was giggling and shitting all over the place. It wasn’t until Madame Ovary started talking to Whoopi, believing she was Demi, and dancing with Patrick that we collectively confirmed we had to go. She had won, we had to go. So once again, Madame Ovary fluffed her feathers, called on her wings of wisdom, and prepared to take off. But this God damn Guru of a ghost with the highest of high powers not only convinced her to move house, but to move country too. 3 weeks later mummy took flight to Ireland.
So, upon halloween, an odd, annual event that is all about remembrance of the dead, I am ready and willing to confront my ghosts. The ones that play silly buggers in my cupboard and turn up the music. The ones that take me out for a spin and empty my tank, then my fridge, hiding my homework everyday. The ones that are blocking up my pipes. I’m saying Boo to you, ghosts. In the hope that you’ll whisper sweet nothings into my ear, make me feel like Demi, do a little Swayze dance, and tell me where to next. Turn on that dormant tap and let’s rinse some of these onions.