By Noluvuyo Bacela
Oh my goodness the bitter cold Cape wind is creeping into our lives again… Someone hit the pause button… We are not reeeaady!
It’s starting to get really messy and depressing in Cape Town and for the first time in my life I actually mind. Don’t get me wrong I love me some rain, all the warm comfort food and the gray-London-Google-images typa vibes that come with it when I’m looking out the window. It’s the immediate electricity cuts that accompany the season that I can’t seem to get used to. Every weekday evening from about 6:00pm till 7:30pm the street lights switch back on, without fail, as I walk through our tightly knit neighbourhood of Joe Slovo, while occasionally sidestepping the muddy streets stifled by overflowing sewerage systems, dogs that are searching for overnight shelter and dodgy, dark men lurking in the background. The power cuts go off and on and off and on… like doing some type of morse code for about 15 minutes and then we’re back in business. Now we can cook, charge our phones and converse in peace and light.
Just a few weeks ago I had the divine privilege of getting off work early, I lay in the darkened bed and listened to the rain fall onto the tin roof as the power had been out for a while already so my senses were heightened a bit when I felt the same rain drop onto the bedspread several times until they seeped into the sheet. Quickly retracting my toes from the cold area while wishing it away, I moved onto the left side of the bed and counted the drops until the electricity finally came back minutes later. Then I did the logical thing which was to pace around.
I started pacing around thinking, “What would my mom do in this situation?” I got some refuse plastic and switched on the two plate stove adjacent our bed, took out a knife from the cutlery jar in the cupboard beneath the stove and just started tearing up the bag then burnt it like I was at a shisanyama*, flipping and turning it while watching the smoke go up and clouding my thoughts. I’m almost certain that if it weren’t for the nonstop, almost deafening drops falling like flapjacks onto the bedspread I could’ve most probably sat there in a cloud of black because the stove was so warm and my dampened toe was almost frozen. Anyway after several attempts of trying to make a gooey, hot plastic matter that I had originally envisioned sticking onto the freezing zinc (which in retrospect was basic physics fail!) I gave up and got some good ol’ sellotape which as one can imagine also didn’t help much. So, I took a blanket and threw it over the wet area and that solved my issue.
There are at least 3 holes on the roof but it’s not a train smash because when it rains we don’t necessarily wake up with our beds saturated in water like some in Khayelitsha township. I heard the neighbours’ dog squealing and pressing her body onto the side of the shack as the rain plunged directly onto her body. There’s little or no shelter for the animals here, feeding them is optional but they remain loyal.
I love the rain plus it’s not the reason behind the power cuts and neither is Eskom. All this is because of cable theft by Izinyoka, people hired by a community that is trying to keep warm under these frail conditions. I think the most incredible part is how the community has welcomed this trend, its apparently become part of the winter culture, alongside leaking roofs, and blocked sewerage due to overcrowding.