The light blue envelope was lying on the kitchen table when Anu got home from school. Its edges were worn from the journey. On the front were the words “Aerogramme” in English and Hindi and their name and address in neat, block, capital letters.
The aerogrammes came once a month like clockwork.
“Why doesn’t Thatha just call?” Anu had asked her mother once.
I had returned to my hometown a few months earlier, and was trying to meet new people. Expat life had taken its toll. My relationship to the place I was born was tenuous. But I was doing everything I could to remember that I belonged there. Rediscovering the places that I vaguely remembered from my childhood. Going to parties. Making friends with other natives (we were a dying breed).
Luanda has the best beaches on the Atlantic coast. Like Lagos, it has the benefit of a bay and an ocean, but the bay's waters are calm; perfect for swimming and boating.
We spent every Sunday at Chevron's beach house. We'd drive from the house in Miramar down to the dock. Somewhere near the Esso compound in Luanda Sul our driver would call the Whiskeys manning the dock.. It wouldn't be just us, 6 or 7 people would converge on the boat launch at the same time. Lifejackets on, we'd climb into the motorboat that would take us to the part of the Ilha that Chevron had claimed as its own.
Sunday morning, 8am. Ten of us meet in the parking lot of the guest house. The van pulls up and the driver hops out to open the side door. We duck our heads in and find our seats. It still smells like new plastic. It will probably always smell like new plastic.
Out the gates and up the expressway we go. I try to pay attention to the land whizzing by, but my eyes get drowsy and start to close. Twenty kilometers into the city, we slow to a crawl. The shift in speed jolts me awake. Stop and go. Stop and go. There are honks and shouts. It seems like everyone in the city is out.
As humans we look for people to understand us, to see where we're coming from, to "get it". Having a nomadic childhood or being mixed, can be particularly isolating, especially as mixed TCKs. So many times we just don't talk about our experiences and how we've learned to cope with the world. Which works (sort of) with friends, but not so much with significant others.
Boarding has begun. You look around the airport terminal one last time as the line slowly inches forward. It is as hot and sticky as it was when you first landed here five years ago. The AC has never worked.