Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Paper Aeroplane

Soft sunlight falls over the city, as though it were a late Free State afternoon and not an early winter's morning in Mzansi. The buildings are carefully folded origami, God playing Tetris badly with their arrangement. Row upon row of trains like tiny pieces of Lego. I try to spot the Nelson Mandela bridge, but we are already passing over Ellis Park Stadium. When the FNB Stadium appears, tiny from this height, I poke my neighbour and say: "Look, it's Soccer City!".

The silly man only replies that the one in Cape Town is prettier, and that we'll pay for these stadia for years. How can you not appreciate the view, Mr Suit? Johannesburg is saying Welcome Back, and you fail to acknowledge her beauty.

You see, I came home, yesterday. It was only one week, but it felt like time had stopped; it felt as though I had been given a time-out from my life just for a week. Here, the news regarding Zuma's painting was still the same, I had missed nothing at the university, and all the people were still exactly as I had left them.

But Paris also felt like going home.  I still know my way around. I still know how to surf the metro without holding on or falling. I still know where to get what I need. Seeing my friends again felt like I had seen them only yesterday, not two years ago. Getting on the plane back here felt like coming home and leaving it at the same time. Sure, Paris is not where my family is, where the house I call home is, where most of my friends live, or where I feel like I know every corner. But that city is not a stranger to me either. It is like being a perpetual tourist and being perpetually home-less at the same time; it is feeling a sense of belonging to more than one city.

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