They call it “hellfire”. The bomb plummets down to earth leaving the sound of a faint whistle trailing behind, echoing in the atmosphere. The sweaty palmed, pilot watches on his screen from a remote dessert bunker, as the package is received. Estimated damage has been calculated and the destruction is verified. The paperwork is filed. The solider returns home safely- his job is done. On the ground the chaos ensues. Picking up the pieces, clearing the rubble, counting the causalities.
Our tiny apartment is just a spec on the face of the earth. Sitting in a valley of mountains, covered by a thick layer of dust as boundless trucks and tractors stir up the ground. The deaf dog next door never stops screaming. Encouraging the goat to cry and the surrounding dogs to howl. A black cat crosses my path, and then another. I empty the saltshaker over my left shoulder. Turn around three times. The garlic around my neck is pungent, and the rope feels like a noose. How do you clean yourself of bad luck? The air around me is thick with it, and it’s getting hard to breath.
It started on Christmas Eve. We were un-expecting as we drove back from a relaxing day spent at the Dam. As we swam and soaked up the sun we didn’t know this would be the last good day for months. If we had, we would’ve lingered a little longer. Basked in the last few warm rays of the day.
Its always stupid how things like this happen- what starts a chain reaction of chaos. Our car was broken into, which led to2 days spent at the police station. Missing Christmas dinner. We knew whom the criminal was and when the police failed to reprimand him words were slung in his direction. Christmas morning began with a police car in my driveway- charges were pressed against me for shouting at the thief. The police also found the humor in this and it was soon forgotten.
Christmas also brought a string of power outages. Some weeks we had no power for days. When the power is out, the water pump in the well stops pumping causing a water shortage. Christmas eve we arrived home after several hours making statements to the police, starving and sweaty from the beating sun. No power. No dinner. We drove to the pizza restaurant at the casino down the road; it’s late and the fatigue is setting in. We order, collect and go back to the car, reverse and hear the sound of shattering glass behind us. I’m tempted to get out, and walk home. Leaving the car exactly as it is. The car behind us is parked illegally, in front of a delivery gate. The parking lot is pitch black. The bolt for the spare tire on our car is less than a millimeter extended over the rear bumper of our car, and a tap of this tiny piece of metal on the window of the illegally parked car is enough to send it to shambles. We call the police, a report is made, and we are fined R700 and have to replace the windscreen of this Toyota Spacio. Have you ever heard of this car in your life?
Its new years and we escape to the dam for the weekend. We need to hide out for a while, and the idea of bringing in the New Year in the community we will soon be building gives us an overwhelming feeling of hope. We are so close to getting our land, and we have had ever assurance that the finalizing of the deal will be any day now. We take a drive to our chosen piece, smiling, and encouraging each other with visions of building our little farm by the dam’s edge. As we approach, something isn’t right. The land has been grated, the trees chopped down. Someone else is beginning to build on our land. We call a meeting to confirm and just like that our dreams are crushed. We are offered another piece of land, it is a better piece, but now all trust has been shaken. Will we ever get to build our house?
December brought a ray of hope. We go to the pharmacy and buy a pregnancy test. It feels like this isn’t the right time, with the chaos endlessly swirling around us, but maybe this will be the end of our bad luck. We sit around the bathroom sink staring at this stick, willing two pink lines to appear, with one suborn thick line staring back at us. A week later another one stating, “invalid”. Rinse repeat. Rinse repeat. I make an appointment with the doctor, something isn’t right. A month has gone by and the results are staying the same. We spend our rent at the clinic, blood is drawn tests are done; the doctors are confused. No one can give me an answer to this query. I will need more appointments, more money. More lost hope.
I receive a monthly payment from one of my clients. Every month. The same amount. It has been 4 months with the same result. We receive a text message from the bank with money is deposited. As the phone chimes, our Pajero chokes, sputters and breaks down. The mechanic comes, parts are bought, I walk to work, the bank balance reads zero. Every month. I may start to work for free.
In Swaziland, the locals believe that the ocean holds healing powers. Whenever we go to the ocean, we always have a request to bring back a 2L of seawater for someone. Something about the salt, the boundless miles of ocean water, somehow cleanses your soul. We leave on Wednesday for the coast. I am not a superstitious person, but I’m not sure how much longer I can stand this string of bad luck. I like to believe everything happens for a reason. And I’m sure all of this will have a reason… a purpose… a chain reaction of events to set us up for something better. They say you have to sometimes fall to the bottom to appreciate the view from the top. I am envisioning clear blue skies, the sound of hammers to nails, the roar of a working engine, the feel of tiny new fingers wrapped around my own and the feeling of cheeks paining with laughter. 2017 is going to end better than it has begun- we just have to clear a little rubble.