Lying in bed at my mum’s at two in the morning, beat as hell, I’m listening to the noises of our small house and the thought arises – there’s no place like this house anywhere on Earth.
Four of my teenage nephews who are sleeping over (but not sleeping) are hanging out in the lounge room. The TV is blaring and they’re playing their Nintendos (at the same time!) – not quietly, but more of a bouncing around heavily watching and playing. The shouts of excitement and laughter, sometimes of pain when they bash each other (play fighting), drone out the TV easily and reach me through my bedroom window, which is open ‘cause it’s so hot.
My two older brothers are in the back room with a friend, drinking Bundy and Coke, listening to music – pretty laid back but not so quiet and scoffing down three mean prawn pizzas.
My mum is in the kitchen playing scrabble with the ladies, as they do every weekend. They’re not so loud, but at irregular intervals I hear exclamations like “Oh, Joyce, did you have to put that there,” to which is replied, “Oh, Joyce I’m so sorry.” Giggles. (My mum’s name is Joyce, as is one of the ladies).
Every five or so minutes someone is dashing to the toilet, or into the kitchen to make a coffee or diving into the fridge to get a cold drink. The air conditioner is burring, which is a pleasant sound, as it only recently began working again. Doors open and shut – if it’s coming from the lounge then it’s more of a slam. Footsteps pace the passage way – if it’s coming from the back room, then it’s more of a stomp. The toilet fan revs up the moment the light is switched on and then it revs down again, the moment the light goes off.
My room is in the middle of all this commotion, at two in the morning. On top of it all, the neighbours on my room’s side of the house, are going berserk. They don’t cause trouble but amongst themselves, they fight and insult each other – not so quietly and they’re swearing like crazy using every abusive word under the sun in a variation of phrases – you know like, fuck you, or get fucked, or what the fuck, or you fucking so and so, etc. etc. (and these are the mild ones). My room window is open ‘cause it’s so damn hot.
As sleep evades me, I think of the day gone by; of cooking in our tiny kitchen for about 16 people. I made a rich Tuna Cannelloni with a mixed salad of lettuce, tomatoes, apples, nuts, cheese, carrots and herbs. Due to high humidity, the air-conditioner had conked out, so it was about 30 something degrees in the house and we needed to place a fan in our already cramped and muggy kitchen to cool the place down. But all it did was to create a breeze – not necessarily cool, mind you. In addition, there was a constant flow of people in the cooking space either making coffee which entails delving into the cupboard to get a cup and using the water boiler which is in that corner of the kitchen where the stove and sink are, or teenagers getting drinks from the fridge, which again entails getting a glass from the cupboard. Invariably, they’d make a Milo and warm it up in the microwave which is right next to the stove (in that part of the kitchen!). This usually entails not only getting a cup from the cupboard but searching for bikkies in it, too. I was continually cleaning up coffee, drinks or Milo spillage. Killing flies became an ongoing task throughout the cooking. At times, family members would just hang around and chat, wondering what was going on, checking out if the food was going to be good (or not). In all that bedlam, the little ones were longing for attention and so eager to help. The last straw came as my mum, worried there wouldn’t be enough food, (typical Anglo) and decided to fry up some pouries (Indian type bread cooked in oil) right on the stove!! I’m sure the temperature rose way above 30 then. Meanwhile the sink was piling up with dishes (heaps of glasses and coffee mugs). One of my brothers was playing his guitar, but on the other open side of the kitchen at the table. That was comforting, but with all the noise and chatter and clatter, it was often difficult to hear him. It was a relief when dinner was finally served and everyone enjoyed the meal.
It’s getting really late (or early) Dead beat and with a sigh there’s nothing else to think except ‘Yeah, that’s my house’! But before I eventually fall asleep (long after two) I’m thinking that when I leave on Friday to return to the sanctuary of my home in Austria, to my husband and children, that this is exactly what I’m going to miss (again).
Yeah, there’s no place like this house!
Full of chaos,
Full of love.
I visited my family for a short time just after Christmas. I (we) rarely got to sleep before 2 am.
Here a few of my thoughts – just for fun.