I’ve Come Home

Posted by on Dec 5, 2016 in Writings

I’ve Come Home

Today is my mother’s birthday and on her birthday, I usually like to share this story of her first catch as an accidental midwife.

I thought of sharing her birth story, as I know she was born at home, in Athlone, as was the case with most Cape Coloured births at the time. I know that when she was born, the house across the road burnt to the ground and that a woman was trapped inside it and died.

Birth and death in the same road on the same day.

Recently I held a ceremony of healing for myself , a circle of strong women who held me emotionally and spiritually while I let go of old shit and allowed the new to be birthed. 

And there I read this story to everyone.

It is a story about my mother, a story she told me a long time ago. It is the story of when she, after twenty years of living in Switzerland, living a very Swiss and white existence, was led by a friend on an inner guide meditation which hauntingly reminded her of where she had come from. 

Her roots.

A story which very much altered and shaped our lives.

As births do.

So today, on this day when she would have been 66, I share the story of her rebirth.

“Close your eyes, Carol,” Matthias said.

Matthias was a tall skeletal gay man. A Buddhist psychologist friend who worked with Carol at the psychiatric hospital in Bern on floor D2.

Carol was lying on her back in Matthias’s sitting room. She lay, surrounded by a pile of Indian silk cushions, one under her head. The sun streamed in through the window and onto her, making her feel comfortable and sleepy. Her children were with their father, he was down from London on one of visits. Single parenting was hard, but it was also what she had chosen. She was enjoying this much needed and uninterrupted break.

“Relax, just breathe. Let everything go. Forget about everything. Just be…”

She felt the air move in and out of her nostrils. She felt her body relax and she felt her breath becoming more regular and prolonged.

I could stay like this forever, she thought, her tired body tingling. And with each out breath, she felt the weight of her body sink into the floor.


“Now, imagine yourself in a landscape…”

She saw herself standing in a grassy meadow. She was high up, high above sea level, with the most marvellous view, rolling hills and snow-capped mountains. Blue skies. Blooming flowers. Bright green, dotted with buttercup yellows and pinks and whites. The air felt warm and she wanted to lie in the grass. She listened; the air was busy with the work of insects.

A stereotypical Swiss summer scene.

How positively blissful, she thought.

She felt herself drift off.

“Imagine an animal walking towards you from a distance. It is heading straight for you. Looking very determined.”

She found this disconcerting. There was no animal and she felt that the presence of one would be irritating. How dare Matthias bring up something so silly and disconcerting?

Then unexpectedly, a great big elephant’s head arose from behind a hill and its body crashed through the tranquil scene she had created in her consciousness. She panicked and wanted to run but her legs wouldn’t move.

Where the fuck did that come from?

It headed straight for her and yet seemed oblivious of her presence.

Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck!

Just as she thought she was going to be trampled, it stopped and for the first time seemed to notice her. She realised that this was a tame creature. He was adorned with red and gold. Tassels hung from him. He was old and wise and looked her in the eyes. He held his trunk out to her and seemed to indicate for her to take it. She took it tentatively. It was soft and warm to her touch. Like a large grey flaccid penis. Gently he turned and began to walk back the way he had come, guiding her.

They walked back over the hill he had come. The scene changed. Gone were the green fields of Switzerland. Before her lay a barren landscape. A forgotten place. Dry cracked earth. Flat ground. Small dry grey bushes. Thorn trees. Small flat hills in the distance. Great vastness. Dry hot air. No life. Silence.

They walked. She felt stunned by the silence. The space. She had forgotten that places like this existed. Could her mind have hidden this place so well from her until now?

They walked. The elephant lead. She followed.

“This animal is going to give you a key. Take the key and bid farewell to the animal. Walk alone. You will find the door only your key can unlock.”

The elephant stopped. She let go of his trunk as tentatively as when she had first reached out to touch it. He pressed a heavy antique key into her hand. It was brass and incredibly embellished.

It was beautiful.

She turned to bid her animal friend goodbye but he had already left and was a distance away, his back to her. She felt alone and abandoned by this creature she had grown to trust and love. She wanted to shout out for him to stop, to wait for her. But she didn’t. She watched him go for a long time and only when he was only a speck on the horizon, did she turn back in the direction they had been going. She took a deep breath. She looked back over her shoulder once more but her friend, the elephant, was gone. Then she looked down at the key in her hand.

She began to walk.

Where she was going, she did not know. She followed her instincts…

She walked, fumbling with the heavy key as she went., its weight reassuring her as she went.

A door appeared in the distance. And as she walked towards it, she realised that it was old and heavy and stood alone in this vast space.

When she stood in front of it, she looked at it, taking in the detail of the door, the knots in the dark wood. It had brass detail, a heavy doorknob and a lock that matched the key. She put the key into the lock and turned it. She turned the doorknob and the door opened away from her. It was night-time on the other side. The moon was full and the world was blue and silver and crisp and cold.

In the distance, a small figure, naked, except for a leather loincloth, crouched over a small fire. He held a bow to his lips and was hitting it gently with a small stick. The most beautiful sounds; whistles, harmonies and rhythms filled the vast emptiness of his world.

She stepped over the ornate wooden threshold and walked as slowly and carefully as she could towards the little man…he was facing her but seemed oblivious to her existence. The little flames danced and shone upon his face making its broad flatness glow orange. His eyes were closed and his face was screwed up in concentration.

When she came to the fire, he looked up and smiled at her. He stood up. He held out his hand and she took it. It was rough and hard and warm.

I’ve come home.

I never want to leave here.