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The Burden of Dreams

For as long as I have been alive, the questions: "Where are you from?" or "Where is home?" are usually, and perhaps unfortunately, followed by the question: "And...your 'home-home'?". You would think that these are fair and straight forward questions that require no elaboration: "Where are you from?" - That's it! Right?...hmmm not exactly...


For me these questions have always been unsettling, causing me to sometimes question my own existence, place and space of belonging. You see, as a child, I never really had "a place called home", at least not in the typical sense of the word. From living in many different locations and having to deal with always being 'the new kid in school' (at a stage where most of my peers had long formed their social groups), to growing up under the care of a mother who, in my eyes was practically and, for-all-intents-and-purposes, a single parent! I guess it comes as no surprise that I am often the most reserved and 'inward-looking' individual. My nomadic childhood lifestyle created in me a strong sense of independence and like a lone sailor at sea, I sought guidance and direction from the stars. If only I knew which star was which - because as far as I was concerned (other than their difference in brightness), they all looked the same to me.

Guided by the stars

However, it wasn't until I started looking down - at the ground on which I walked and the reality which is my life - that I began to appreciate the gravity of my gift. The ability to see past what is, and imagine very vividly: what could be! When I would look at a dingy, dilapidated and foul smelling dump veld near a motorway a few minutes walk down from my old primary school (which incidentally would later become the spot where I would experience my first "day light robbery/mugging" - story for another day) and in my mind: see a green park and thriving urban space with kids my age playing safely, old people taking gentle strolls up and down a promenade, street performers keeping passersby's joyfully entertained, a thriving street retail business area that captured the pockets of taxi, bus and the nearby train station commuters as they waited their turn to sit 'four-four'. It was a well lit, clean and beautifully designed public realm where life happened.

Image depicting the pollution and degradation of the natural environment.

Unfortunately, this was all in my head. I was just a kid. I had no money. No one was interested in fixing the problem and with all the facts considered, My young mind concluded: There is nothing you can do about it...


Or so I thought...

 


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