Rosamicula (rosamicula) wrote,

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thirty summers

Summer of 1976

It is hot and bright and sunny every morning when I wake. Summer is endless, Indian; all future summers promise to be the same.

I am eight and spend the days running about wearing nothing but flip-flops and knickers, so that when I lie in the bath I look like a girl sliced in half because my arse is as white as the porcelain and the rest of me is chestnut brown.

There are adverts for Reactolite Rapide sunglasses featuring people who are just so busy being cool and having fun that they don't have time to take their sunglasses off.

Chicken is something that we still have as a Sunday treat, roasted and fragrant and flavoursome. My brother and I pull the wishbone apart and his huge fingers delicately ensure that the wishing part comes away in my small hands.

All the children in my street play outside all day long, summoned in only for dinner and tea. In the morning we are a brown, half-naked tribe. By lunchtime we are covered in dust from the baked ground and grubbily delighted. We have ladybirds in our hair. Before the ban we run shrieking and giggling under a hosepipe's chilling, clicking, snake-hissing spray.

Baghdad is a fairytale city of turrets and towers, of princes and thieves. It is a place of enchantment I might fly to on a moonlit magic carpet.

My mother talks poignantly, angrily about the summers before the war. The past is an alluring foreign country I wish I could reach.

Summer of 2006

The brief heatwave forces comparisons with '76, but then the weather broke and autumn stamped muddily all over August's sandalled toes. The heatwave returns occasionally, each time diminished.

I am 38 and spend my days sweltering in robust foundation garments and factor 20 sunscreen (to avoid wrinkles) and shimmering fake bake tan fluid (to simulate the tan I can't get because it will give me wrinkles).

Reactolite sunglasses are advertised as a way of protecting one's eyes from the damaging and perilous rays emitted by the cancer-bringing sun.

Chicken is something that is sold in greying, skinless, boneless, flavourless fillets with 'added water for succulence'. I do not buy it. I don't buy the absurdly expensive chickens in the farmer's market either.

The local children seldom emerge from their houses. They grow fat and pallid playing solitary indoor games in front of screens because their parents fear the lurking menace of paedophiles. I pity them, especially as the fat, pallid paedophiles are probably safely indoors playing solitary games in front of their screens, too.

Baghdad is a warzone city where boys I have taught risk their lives and limbs and minds. When I wrote the reference on one boy's army application form, I said 'he will turn his hand to any practical skill and persevere until he masters it'. Now he has no hands to turn.

In the summer of '06 I realise that the summer of '76 has become the summer, all summers; rose-tinted as it is by nostalgia and regret. The past is no longer foreign or unreachable. Sometimes I live there.
Tags: 76, summer, the past, writing
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