I consider myself a real pistol. The gung-ho type. The sort of gutsy, non-conformist that grins like a hyena in the face of fear. However, as I sat down to write the first of what I intend to be a surplus of posts, my inexorable “dyed-in-the-wool” confidence went skittering down the proverbial drain and left me alarmed and wild-eyed and knocking back a glass (or several) of Amarula, desperately searching the caverns of my mind for the right thing to say.
And then, finally, I began writing.
I did not find the right thing to say, but I began writing, and I finished writing, and that is why we are here, no?
If it wasn’t obvious, I had an alternative upbringing, which I largely credit to my outlandish parents who wouldn’t hear the word “establishment” at the dinner table. I was raised, under duress, between several countries, in and out of schools, by a family I wouldn’t change for anything at all. The travels of my family - and by travels I mean 15 exasperated hours in Dad’s ‘97 Toyota Landcruiser that had honestly seen better days before the 621st time it crossed the Mozambique-Zimbabwe border, with two screeching brothers, a passively harangued Mom, and Dad chain smoking out of the window, cursing the police, the road, the government, the sixteenth flat tyre we’d had that day, the brothel we slept at near Chirundu, his impossible brother, and himself, while I occasionally asked for the music to be turned up, because, on a trip that felt like it was taking eight weeks, Kris Kristofferson’s ‘Don’t Let The Bastards Get Ya Down’ seemed more than appropriate for my 12 year old feelings of frustration and despair...
As I was saying, the travels of my intractable family between Mozambique and a large selection of other southern African countries have contributed in no small number of ways to the imaginative, indefatigable, incorrigible and sometimes wholly uncivilized personality whose blog you have chosen, for better or worse, to follow.
Growing up wild in post-civil war Mozambique, harboured from the developing world, with precious few souls in situ, and the rustling, impenetrable bush surrounding, I was forced to find friends in fish, chat-mates in chickens, and my greatest confidante in an ill-behaved Jack Russell, till her untimely death by Black Mamba in 2001. Life was not simple for my parents in the squalid town of Vilanculos, which, as I learned later, served for the most part as a Halfway House for lost souls, wandering through life looking for meaning on our sea-weed and pufferfish strewn shores.
But it was simple for me.
I knew no one, and no one knew me, except for the feral family who I will, from here on out, interchangeably refer to as the Lordly Landreys, the Ludicrous Landreys or the Languishing Landreys, depending on the kindness with which I recall the story at hand.
This dauntless existence in wide open spaces, snaking beaches, rising sand dunes, unbearable temperatures, rotting fish in UN-AID sacks and lepers waiting to die outside the Mercado, expanded, irrevocably, the borders of my mind. It attuned my senses to the wild and arcane, confirmed to my 11 year old self the indispensable need for an exotic imagination, the importance of an open mind in making friends who did not speak my language, or any language at all for that matter, and, chiefly, the will to survive and thrive in an environment bent on turning a little girl into a savage warrior.
And this, my dear adherents, is the fathomless well from which I draw my wit, my wonder and my writing. Sometimes, the three meet, and a glorious work of comedic art is created, which, I presume, is why you are here.
So this is your chance to follow me, my rants, my ruminations, my rhetoric, my writing.
I hope you can keep up.
By your leave, good sirs, good madams, and good (insert identifiable genders and species),
Until the next post,
The Inscrutable Shrew