“Can you see it? “
Rosie unclasped her hands from her mug of cocoa as she spoke and placed it on the oak table, leaving sorry dregs swirling around the bottom.
“The sun,” she continued, as if I didn’t know what she was referring to.
I reluctantly let go of my mug. It was still steaming, half full and not completely serving its purpose. She took me by the hand, her soft pale fingers locked in my fatter ebony ones, and led me to the cottage door.
I could see. But it hardly seemed to matter. It was weak and insipid, not worthy of the name.
I had grumbled about the weather for three weeks and it seemed churlish not to acknowledge the golden globe after it had done the decent thing and emerged. I ought to give it its due respect. But I couldn’t.
This was no sun! The sun shines. Radiantly! It does not fake. It burns skin and casts real black shadows – not the grey imposters this throws. The sun makes you sweat, and dries your clothes. The sun preserves the spread-out cocoa beans and prevents the koobi fish from putrefying. It wearies the athlete and drains the beaded warrior. It does not promise and disappoint like this one. Now it didn’t even seem to be up to doing what it was supposed to do. To melt the confounded snow.
Rosie had warned that this time would have its hazards and that the postcard prettiness would revert to sludgy mess and that it would then turn ugly. That I should be careful not to slip. I did not listen and paid for my foolhardiness with an undignified fall and a sore hip.
“She will take you away, away from Africa” Uncle Kofi once said “and you will go to a cold country. Your first winter will be a war.”
I was there. I got baptised into a week of dull frosty greyness, one more of whirling rain, followed by frozen droplets she called ‘sleet’ and after that descended the blankets of powdery whiteness. I knew of snow, of course from Enid Blyton story books and glossy magazines and television and countless films -but it was still a shock to the senses.
She pulled me across the threshold and out over the stone step. This was our home now. She was well worth it I knew, but what had I done? What on earth had I done?
“Look”, she said.
I felt complete loss of sensation in my toes. My inappropriate African-designed footwear gave little protection.
Despite that, I took one long, defiant stare upwards and had to blink. It had power after all. I began to waver a sliver.
Perhaps I had been too hard on her. Perhaps this counterfeit sun was indeed a friend. Perhaps it indicated that summer would come.
And then I would smile again.