Write whatever comes to mind, I’m told. Don’t worry about it sounding like a jumbled mess of thoughts – someone will get something from it. I hope so.
I’ve been in Antananarivo, Madagascar for almost two months. And it is home. But then I’ve also called South Africa, Belgium, France and Canada home too. What is home? Is it where your bed is, or your friends, or where you have a key for your very own front door? Or is it where you feel comfortable living, where friends are your family and neighbours say hello, even though you speak a different language to them?
I miss home – my family in South Africa, those that became family to me in France, Belgium and Canada. Just as I’d miss Madagascar if I wasn’t here.
The Midgley boys are intent on helping me find a wife as if I’m not complete without one. Over the last few days or weeks many questions have been asked about why I’m not married, whether I’d like to be married, and what type of woman they should look out for (for me). But that’s nothing new – I’ve been offered match-making help over the years by well-meaning friends. Some people have even told me I’m disobeying God by not proposing to certain (delightful) ladies. Apparently there is a photographer somewhere in Africa who I should meet. Fortunately, though, flights are expensive … I don’t have good experience with blind dates.
Last week the boys were looking through a book with their little sister. On seeing a picture of Lady Gaga wearing sunglasses she pointed at it, then at me, then back at it and bellowed “Baaaaaab!” (her name for me). It’s somewhat disturbing that a 19-month-old thinks I look like Lady Gaga.
I’m still (mostly) sticking to my gluten-free diet. Not because I want to, but because I have to. The lungs haven’t been great and whenever a croissant, hot cross bun or other gluten-laden snack manages to tempt me to devour it I am left regretting it. The boys try to convince me that everything has gluten in it – especially things they would rather not share with me like Nutella, steak, cool drink (pop) and Easter eggs. This evening, while I was enjoying a rice cake one of them asked very seriously, “Is cardboard made from rice? Because that looks about as tasty as cardboard.” The terrible pollution on the roads also doesn’t help the lungs. But I have my “beak-man” mask and try not to do the hellish trip to town and back too often.
Madagascar can be frustrating but I love it. Because at the end of the day the people are wonderful – and home is all about the people. I haven’t ever owned a place of my own, and at the moment I live in a guest house, so don’t even have a front door key. My socks, shorts, and underpants keep disappearing and then reappearing weeks later, if they reappear at all. All most disturbing, and I shudder to think what the young lasses upstairs could be doing with them. But it’s home.
I’m asked often how long I’ll be here. “I don’t know,” I answer. “As long as the lungs and the money hold out … or those I hang out with have had enough of me.”
In the meantime know that, wherever you are in the world, if you are important to me, I miss you and wish I could visit.