By Steve Nkumbi
I live in a tent. Every day of my life.
I hadn’t always lived in a tent, in fact I never imagined myself spending a night outside. My housemates did their best to console me. ‘It’ll be like you’re camping’ they said. In my head I remember telling myself that I’m not the camping type as I don’t find reptiles and insects attractive at all. Life changed within a split second as I found myself packing and getting ready to move in my new home,
Just outside my ex landlord’s yard, next to the pool under a big Wesley Tree. For a second I saw my life flash before my eyes, I thought it was the end and I became angrier at the notions of money and Capitalism. I decided to sit down in the middle of the packing process to breathe and look on the brighter side, the pool and the safe backyard. I looked at the nice big tree that would give me shade when the sun was blazing and realised I had a lot to be grateful for. But at the same time, I had to admit, I was scared. Momma was also scared that since I am a lesbian someone might come in and rape me in my sleep with these correctional rapes going on I understood why Momma was worried. It’s second nature to protect your child but I asked her to trust the Lord she prays to that I’ll be alright and I’ll continue trusting the Universe.
I knew if I was going to have the time of my life in the tent, I had to accept reality. It took a while but after a few days in my tent I accepted my situation. I was broke, jobless and momma couldn’t really send money my way. I had to make it work. As fate would have it, I ended up in a tent.
It is a humbling phase I must say.
I am not crying over the state of my life, I’m doing my best to get out without placing too much pressure on myself. I found that living outside brought back my artistic side, before the ‘big move’ to the tent I had stopped writing music and poetry. However after it happened, I found myself writing most of the time in my tent. I sometimes miss my dog so much but Daisy keeps me company especially when I feel sad and broken her hugs and kisses are the best. She always leaves a smile on my face. She might have a grumpy moments but I think it is old age kicking in, she’s a beautiful hearted dog.
It is windy in Cape Town, Observatory is windier. Even though I feel like I’m in a sinking ship most nights when it the gale gets too much, wind is the least of my problems. It’s a part of nature and in due time it will pass. As I lay on my bed, outside the house I once lived in I feel so alive. I believe that things turn out like they should and so I’m making the most of my life in a tent. Some nights the beautiful sounds of nature make me sleep like a baby and some nights they keep me awake as I listen attentively to the ever-changing sounds of nature.
I’ve been blessed. Life with nothing is simpler and makes for a happier me. I am closer to nature than I have ever been in my life. From the high notes of crickets singing through the night to spiders crawling in and out of the tent whenever they can, I remain peaceful as I know that I’m not alone I always have company.
I do need a bicycle though.
When people ask me how I’m surviving out there I tell them it could have been worse. They ask again about winter since it has nearly fully arrived, albeit less harshly than in the past. I reply once more telling them that I’m not thinking that far, for I live not in the future but in the present. Truth be told, the future is unknown. You can plan towards it all you like but it will remain uncertain until one gets there. Be it five years from now or tomorrow, reality is that I’m not there yet.
I am doing my best looking for work and freelancing so that by the time the rainy season truly comes I’ll be indoors again. It has come to my attention that through all my experiences I have found the courage to accept the things I cannot change and I have gained the strength to change those that I can change. In a short space of time living in a tent changed me; I no longer take anything for granted. Not even my ability to smile when everything is going wrong. I think differently and grow more patient by the day.
I have found sanctuary at last, in my being.
The sound of the birds chirping on the tree my tent is under gives me the adrenaline I need to continue with my day.I live a simple life right now and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. The tent is in the garden and I share the garden with two beautiful white hens. We are sharing the space in harmony.Also, in the case of bird poo, I believe I have become a legend as I have mastered the art of dodging whenever they have their behinds towards the entrance of my house (tent). I started appreciating the things I spent twenty five years of my life avoiding.
Even the hairy spiders.
I feel awakened, and it have realised it is the little things that count. Everything has its purpose. We’re all connected to each other, from insect to plants, animals and human beings. The voices of our education have taught us to protect ourselves from nature, if we take a minute to breathe we will realize that we don’t have to. For nature is already protecting us.
I have a lot of things to be grateful for in this little tent of mine. Hazel the Landlady lets me leave the light on sometimes (If you knew Hazel as well as I do, you’d agree that it’s a luxury). I have a bed and books to read and so I am content. When we let things be, life starts working in our favour. I have big dreams I am still holding on to, I won’t let myself be a victim of my circumstance. Change is coming.
Sometimes it takes a big change to appreciate the little things. In turn we experience complete happiness. Life keeps changing for the better, I’m even an early bird now whereas I used to hate waking up with passion. What I have learned also is that life is for the free spirited, don’t let anything hold you back. I am in control of my destiny. Deep down I know that this phase is strengthening me for something that I am yet to encounter in the future.
This is my point,
Life is not all doom and gloom, the good goes hand in hand with the bad.
I’m learning patience every day, I might freak out every now and then but I am confident that I am changing for the better. Anxiety in one’s heart weighs you down, but a good word encourages self to be glad. Whenever it gets to a point of extreme darkness fear not, because when it is dark enough you can see the stars. Sometimes life throws more than lemons in our faces and we end up being bitter, stressed and depressed. That is when we start blaming this person or the other for our demise. However, being in a space where you face a harsh reality is a phase we go through that humbles us, it serves as a chance to connect with what we have disconnected from.
In the end, life is a testimony and we have the power to choose how we balance things.
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