A midsummer night’s scream, camouflaged as a mild summer night’s eve, ascends with promises of good dreams and sleep induced by The Sandman’s magic dust but instead it delivers obsidian wretchedness. Nevertheless, I am hopeful as yawn number two has yet to make an appearance.
No sooner thought and my flaccid arms extend above my head and my mouth – wide open – emits a protracted, barbaric growl that my mother has labelled my bear yawn. My yawning is often characterised by comedic intonations.
Ordinarily, a second yawn preludes the luxurious comforts of a three hundred thread bed sheet and a comforter enveloped in unblemished Egyptian cotton cocoon, as dreamland welcomes me before my mind can fathom a third yawn.
From the property next door, a familiar strangled caw breaks the veil of silence, sounding more like a seagull squawking for hand outs from the fishermen as they tug their boats ashore, than a rooster crowing to the awakening of a new dawn. Stuck in a sort of time apocalypse, that rooster is not conforming to what movies and books depict about his species – a wake-up alarm from nature by which one can set the time. Hence I’m doubtful of this pest’s activities being, like mine, a bout of insomnia. Morning, noon and night is his routine, consequently rendering him about as useful as a sundial in Iceland during that country’s six months of dark days. Putting aside rooster behaviour, I ponder how Icelanders survive this extreme weather condition…
Google me this, Google me that, share your findings – whether myth or fact.
FunDza should be sending me a notice or three regarding the poems I’d submitted for publication any day now, so let me check my email as well.
‘Hello again it’s me…’
That’s the soporific murmurs of the alarm I’d set when I knew a sleepless night was more than glancing over the horizon, and Basia’s New Day for You, while a very old song, produces a syrupy melody to wake to, and has often accompanied me into the land of Nod.
Anyway, back to midnight! Midnight Friday morning showers me with mind-altering relief as FunDza’s Friday story appears on time; unlike Metrorail trains. Moreover, it gives me something to do besides yawn.
Reading as a form of escapism drives my covert affair with the written word – allowing me to escape from my reality and learn more about the fascinating world around me.
Engrossed in the story, a cacophony of night-time noises won’t distract me as I merge myself with the story, becoming the author, the protagonist and the antagonist – a little bit of everything rolled into one ravenous reader.
Every Friday I hope for one of those long FunDza stories like That Kiss in Egypt – but no luck this time. Consequently, I’m soon flopping around like a proverbial fish out of water, trying to fall asleep – right side, left side, on my back, then my stomach. Saying it in a sing-song voice makes it sound like a dance move and that’s not going to help me fall asleep. Now I have this right side, left side tune playing inside my head. Counting sheep won’t help either, as their constant bleating would just add to the voices already in my head.
Right side, left side…
Another odd-sounding yawn erupts from my mouth and I laugh at myself. That one starts off like the roar of thunder and ends with a dejected sort of thud. Even my yawns know they’re working overtime tonight.
An ambulance or fire truck flies pass on the main road, the urgent plea of its siren sending shivers down my spine. I pray there are no lives lost at the scene to which it’s speeding.
There’s a history to everything; even the ambulance’s siren has one and it’s called ‘The Doppler Effect’. The sound we hear is a phenomenon to do with changing wavelengths identified by Australian physicist Christian Doppler way back in 1842.
Online trivia not only alleviates my boredom, I’m overflowing with what some people call ‘useless information’, but there are some real benefits to it.
During an abnormally quiet Friday at my last job, the manager announced that anyone who can answer his question could leave immediately and start their weekend early.
Glowing eyes twinkling with excitement, I seemed to listen with three ears.
The question: What was Mahatma Gandhi’s full name?
Easy blooming peasy.
Answer: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.
Answering questions over a period of time is literally like sticking the knowledge onto your mind with tacks because I also remember Gandhi was born 2 October 1869 and assassinated 30 January 1948. See what I mean? Hello weekend!
During my childhood, my friends and I would mimic the sound of the ambulance’s siren as we sped around attending to a myriad of imaginary broken limbs. Those were the innocent days of peaceful, sleep-filled nights – when the tooth fairy left money in exchange for a tooth placed beneath a pillow.
Yak, yak, yak…
Stealing through the lane, muffled footsteps place the opposite neighbour’s dog on full alert. A plague of petty crimes have invaded my neighbourhood and I wonder whose car or house is next on the list as I listen for the faintest sound advertising an intrusion to property, but the footsteps carry on and fade away.
There’s a drug peddler – scum beneath the pond scum – further up the road who is now aware of an approaching ‘client’ – undoubtedly the cause of the dramatic rise of anti-social behaviour in my area, if one judges from the presence of police vans patrolling the streets. Dregs of society avoid detection by slinking down bleak alleys, under poorly-lit staircases and crouching between cars.
Now it’s deadly quiet. So quiet that if one of my neighbours let off a silent fart, I’d surely hear the rise and fall of the blanket covering them.
Stifling a giggle, I recognise the signs of tiredness – that’s when silly thoughts form a cosy nest between my ears.
Reading about the undercover activities of the derriere might nauseate some people, but it’s a natural occurrence that my mother, when I pull up my nose at one of her rippers, haughtily responds with, “It doesn’t pay rent, so it must vacate my premises.”
Can you believe it? She’s ever so fancy about it. Another favourite justification is: “Must I let it choke me to death?” Seriously! Can it do that?
Guess what time it is?
Perhaps I can find some interesting facts about flatulence and write a piece entitled ‘Unusual Deaths – Choked from Failing to Cut the Cheese’ – another giggle escapes me.
That’s the three o’clock alarm, courtesy of a bus pulling up close by. Whether the passenger is a drop off or pick up is still a mystery to me, since I’ve looked out the window but the bus is not in sight. Stepping out into the nippy morning air to feed my curiosity is a new level of crazy so I consider doing something else to while away the remaining hours of suffocating gloom.
One of my favourite reads on the FunDza site is Trinity Rising and there’s a mix-up with the chapters that I want to report. While I can’t remember exactly where the disruption occurs, my memory flashes around chapter 15, so that’s where I start reading.
Mnemonic practices boastfully demonstrate their usefulness as my memory delivers me to the location of my query.
Chapter 14 should be chapter 16 – it follows the scene concluding chapter 15, where Trinity is introduced to whom she thinks is the wife of her love-interest.
Popping off an email, I feel I’ve contributed to the FunDza experience and I know they correct problems without delay.
Loving something as inanimate as a phone may very well constitute grounds for admission to the loony bin, nevertheless, I do love my phone: an all-in-one mini office and university, on an easy-to-use piece of technology.
Writing up my poems and stories for submission to FunDza on it – check. Reading and replying to emails on it – check. Studying free online courses on it – double check! It’s fan-blooming-tastic; not what is known as a ‘hello and goodbye’ phone around my parts – one that’s good only for making calls and sending SMSs.
Oh my, it’s already four o’clock – that’s the call to prayer from the mosque a few streets away.
Falling asleep now feels impractical – six o’clock is not far away. Moreover, sleeping now will leave me feeling worse than going without sleep. But dissuading my mind is another matter altogether. And, when it’s mind over matter, this matter had better rank high on the practicality ladder.
Growling at me as if to say: When is feeding time at this zoo? My stomach thinks because I’m awake, food is a mere gulp away. But I’m not used to eating this early in the morning, so I put this hungry lion to rest with a tall glass of cold milk. This is my go-to ‘meal’ when my stomach and head can’t come to a consensus on the proper time to eat.
Continuing with my reading on the FunDza site, it takes a while before I realise how much time has passed – it’s half past five.
There’s the high-pitched whistle of Jeremy acting like Clinton’s alarm as he strolls down the road heading off to work. It stops only once Clinton returns a similar whistle – so his whistling can sometimes go on for a minute or two.
Being woken before my alarm goes off would normally irritate me, but on this occasion I’m grateful for the break, because becoming fully awake usually takes me a while. I’m not a morning person. Late morning and afternoons are when I’m most productive, with the odd late-night session when required.
Tweeting birds make the sweetest early morning sound from their nest in the tree outside my house. It’s as though they’re welcoming the new day. Starting off my day on such a gay note is a feat I’ve yet to accomplish.
Stretched out on the bed I’m not yet ready to vacate, I remind myself to enter the shower first or my brother will leave me with tepid water ending in a cold shower. During the height of summer it’s a tolerable experience, even when the icy spray stings my flesh. But the morning feels strangely arctic, even though spring had tipped its hat to summer a few weeks before.
Washing away the burden of my weariness as only a shower can do, I feel refreshed and proceed with my routine by reading the ultra-magnificent piece of poetry Desiderata, my all-time favourite poem, from the huge, framed copy adorning my bedroom wall.
The copyrights attached to the poem have long since expired, resulting in it now being public domain work that can be shared freely anywhere, so I’ve attached it at the end of my rambling for your enjoyment.
Attending hospital appointments are a drag, and today of all the possible three hundred and sixty-five days of the year – I have one. Staying awake stresses me as I’d hate to fall asleep in the waiting area, possibly snoring and drooling – an unintentional display of unrefined behaviour.
Realising that my insomniac meander was not only polluted with the deafening sounds of silence comes crashing down on me like a ten-pound hammer. Instead, walking down memory lane has instead given me a chance to examine my life and reflect upon which direction I should plot a course. So some good will come of having the entire South African Airways cargo hold beneath my eyes.
I’d forgotten – hospital appointments awaken my paranoia, which take a stranglehold grasp on my mind, telling it it’s going to oversleep – no matter how often I check that I have set an alarm for 6am instead of 6pm. So there it is: not only do hospitals make you more sick, the thought of the appointment also has magical powers.
Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to face this day I go! Hi ho, hi ho…
by Max Ehrmann
Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Strive to be happy.
© Max Ehrmann 1927
Tell us: Have you ever suffered from insomnia? Does your mind jump from subject to subject like the author’s?