Haibun are Japanese prose narratives followed by a micro poem called a haiku.
Traditionally, these narratives were often travel journals; hence the use of the genre haibun in our articles.
I recently wrote a haibun, based on the actual experience of nostalgic trips back to the home town.
For some years I had stopped popping in, then someone from the blue contacted me, reminding me that roots are roots.
As this tourism operation is based in Cape Town but entails the rest of South Africa too, the article seems appropriate: it also blends with our ethos that is to offer experiences that are spiritual, uplifting and thought provoking.
This experience made me consider that there are those who we leave behind as we journey on, yet who still remember us – we owe it to both ourselves and those who do remember us to re-connect when the moment happens … and to be grateful for the opportunity to do so.
One of these moments happened just before this past New Year …
Herewith then the haibun …
… I would fly in and out of Durban, and when I had time before flying back to Cape Town I would pop down to the old town.
It was always quainter and smaller than I remembered.
Even the church tower was not as high as I remembered.
Trees were older and taller though, their roots breaking up sidewalks and tar.
The river always there, its mud mouth in summer, and pure aquamarine in winter.
But it was as if it were a parallel universe.
The faces were strange, others had come and gone and lived in between … down at the beach tea room only the ruins of the slide: the incessant waves still trying to beat into the pool at least reassuring.
Had we really all lived there once?
I would buy a beer at the pub on the beach and inquire. How long have you been here? A few years only would be the typical answer.
And if there was any interest I might tell them something about the past we knew.
Mostly no interest, and in fairness why should there have been?
Once or twice I met someone I remembered at the club – older or younger, at least some surnames matched.
One delightful change was the dentist room, featured in the image of this article. Where he drilled into our young teeth, that was now a pub’s bar counter! Maybe even physical spaces experience Karma … !
On one of the last trips I finally found him – alone, but cheerful. Still full of hope, he wanted to travel to the East and even as he was he could have done it, albeit with a little bit of help … I will be back I said to him.
On my next trip I was told he had passed away.
Once or twice after that I would pop down and visit the old house – but it just did not feel the same anymore after that.
So I left it at that, the breezes and winds of life had blown over many decades, whatever is – now is, and what is not – is not.
Until someone from the blue called … hey, where have you been?
new year’s day
raking up old year’s leaves
as new seeds sprout
(PS My thanks to those who came looking for me to remind me … )
Copyright © 2015 G. Rigotti