Heatwave

It was hot. Blisteringly, sweaty-sticky skin, damp clothes kind of hot. As Asma lay on the grass, she reflected upon the day’s current weather. The Sunday afternoon that had meant to be lazy and enjoyable had now turned into a battle for survival. A battle with which the residents of Harare were ill-equipped to fight.

At first, they had had the necessary armour to keep the villainous heat at bay; ceiling fans, tall glasses hosting fridge-chilled water with ice cubes swimming in them and the barest minimum of clothing was donned.

Asma and her family, being Muslim, refrained from the last weapon and instead wore lighter clothing that kept them cool but still preserved their modesty. She herself wore a flowing maxi dress, patterned with summer flowers that matched the ones that grew in the garden. She had chosen to spend the Sunday afternoon on the grass under the shade of the twin palm trees in the garden, the afternoon too hot to much else.

The aforementioned armour was lost, the fans in particular, as something not entirely out of the ordinary happened (well, for Zimbabwe that is.)  The power went out. ZESA authorities had not been affected by the heat; they simply cut the power for long periods of time and answered customer complaints with practiced ease: “loadshedding”.

Some of the richer inhabitants of the Belvedere suburb had immediately switched on their generators, whilst the more middle class preferred to save their for the evening, should the power fail to return by then (and more often than not they thanked their lucky stars that they did).

Asma had enjoyed the brief moment of silence when the power had cut off. To her, it signalled a force of the world awakening. The insects’ chirping sounded louder, the birds’ calls seemed sweeter, the grass greener, the flowers lovelier, the clouds looked softer and somehow appeared to be more tangible; and each and every one of these aspects drew out the admiring eye of the poet that resided within her. The world had seemed to grow more beautiful, more awake, more alive in that one small fragment of time, and had invoked a sense of peace within her that spread to the rest to of her body. Until the peace was abruptly ended by the whine of the neighbour’s generator, the incessant hum of remaining like a mosquito in a still room.

The drone of the generators irked her and she wished their irritating sounds would disappear like the clouds slowly drifting over her. Yet still they continued as if sensing her annoyance toward them, like small children persisting after being told to cease their exasperating activities complete with tongue pulling and a “You can’t do anything about it”attitude. Asma sighed, a long drawn-out gust of air and resumed cloud watching, her mind idly imagining shapes from the lumpy masses of white. Her eyes soon fell prey to the allure of the seductive sleep, and one last thought passed through her mind as she slipped into its loving arms. It was hot.

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