I am a South African writer with an Honours degree in Political and International Studies and a Masters in African Studies.
Where I write now
A new view. The same desk. The cat is gone, but there are enough memories of her on the sunshine stoep that it feels she could be here, regardless. Around the corner, on an adventure that would have been unthinkable when she arrived to us – a small pile of tortoiseshell fluff, all aquiver.
She hid immediately, the same way I tucked myself in as the third-grade activity to learn fractions, a piece of paper getting smaller, edges less sharp with each fold. What else do you do, when you’ve packed up a life to catch a flying ship across the sea, only to land in picturesque suburbs of hell?
Then, she crawled back into life – this charity case of a calico cat – with nothing but her capacity to alliterate. Suddenly, there’s an adorned mannequin to curl up beneath. It wears a silver sequin dress from a long ago glistening second – opening a car door to pour out, as liquid mercury, to be eyed by the usually cutting housemate who says, ‘Leave it to Nica to have to look the best.’ Someone feeds her regularly, and says, ‘Goodnight, little thing,’ each night as she curls up on the couch, below the gleam of fairly lights ordered as a gesture of freedom from the other side of the world.
She saw us through – from that home, into this, surprising all with how she managed packing up a life again to travel to this little house by the bay. She was quiet on the train, although draped in a towel so the noise wasn’t quite so saturating. Our little unit, standing beside the tracks, waiting for the friendly she-devil to whoosh us into a future floating beyond the London smog.
On our first day, we retrieved Moomin and her grey spaceship nest, and wandered this new place with them – not yet knowing this wasn’t a town to bat an eyelid. It’s missing limbs but its hair is long and flowing, and so we were the least of its worries. I saw swans levitating above water and was pulled so hard the truck almost moved me. Then, the salt entered my lungs as alchemy – and I was replete.
So, my desk lounges in a room of its own, and the ghost of the cat sleeps on the new blue futon. We don’t usually buy new, and won’t again, but to have a piece of furniture all my own in this special, small, room is Virginia Woolf’s cream tea.