Homeless for the night…

The caption is weird, I know but it’s actually a funny story. If you live in South Africa and you’re not familiar with load shedding, you’re either really lucky or very optimistic about being left in the dark. If you have a puppy, you’re familiar with the concept of looking for something, being unable to find it and then heading straight to their “hiding spot” to retrieve it. Combine the two and you have a recipe for disaster…I did and I learned a valuable lesson.

Here’s my story: It started off like any normal Monday, i.e. blue, blue,blue…I survived work and headed home for some well-deserved relaxation. Usually I take a bath at 10 pm but not tonight, there’s a Stevie Wonder Grammy Salute on TV and I’m not missing it for anything! Luckily Eskom was kind enough to wait until it was over before it left me in the dark. Sadly enough, we as South Africans are prepared for such occurrences by having candles on standby. As I stumbled to find mine, the lighter hit the ground and Summer, my puppy is obviously on standby to pick it up and run off into the dark. As I followed her, I stumbled over a few things, hit my knees a few times, swear words were uttered…you get the picture.When I finally located her, the lighter was nowhere to be found and I prayed that it doesn’t show up in her poop in a few days as I need it right now!  I decided to take her inside, close the sliding door slightly and wandered outside with the unlit candle in hand, in search for my lighter. As I searched, I heard a sound that made my heart stop for a few seconds; Summer jumped up against the door from the inside and I heard it locked.

Even after hearing that, I still prayed that it was my imagination or maybe a bird that got lost and flew into the door or a neighbour that was sleepwalking into a door or or or…As I slowly made my way to the door, Eskom decided to light up my life again and I realised, as I try to yank open the door that I’m locked out with no cellphone, shoes or even a warm coat. I could’ve went to the neighbours or the security but I felt so stupid, hello I was locked out of my house by my own dog, how ridiculous is that? As I contemplated a plan, I stepped on something, looked down and there was my lighter…a little too late but still it was there. After checking every door andWINDOW I’ve come to the realisation that I’m definitely locked out. My friend has a spare key but that doesn’t help me much as I have no cellphone and since we’re very lazy, we don’t memorise numbers anymore. Long story short, I decided to make a fire to keep me warm (not a big one though, didn’t want to alert the neighbours) and decided to do this like I do everything else, with total optimism. I pulled the jersey that I was wearing over my knees, put my head inside and prayed for morning to come.

It was one of the longest nights of my life, the cold seeped into every fibre of my being but I was able to do a lot of introspection throughout the night. About life, the choices I’ve made, mistakes that I need to rectify etc. Summer showed her support for me for a while by scratching on the door to get out but after a while she got onto the couch and fell asleep. I thought about those living on the street every single day, freezing every single night without a fire to keep them warm, without a flimsy jersey to preserve some warmth, without a home to return to in the morning and I got less angry about my current fate, I felt less colder as I realised that I probably won’t have to do this again but so many others don’t have that luxury that I have. They don’t have a home that’s a spare key away or a warm bath that will destroy the memory of the cold felt throughout the night or food that will erase the memory of the hunger you felt throughout the night. I felt so much shame at my anger and tears, shame at the fact that I take so much for granted, shame that I had to be locked out to realise all of this. When morning arrived, I witness the sunrise for the first time in a really long time and I wept, tears of shame at my ignorance…I want to be happier, thankful for blessings I receive but mostly I want to help…not just by donating clothes and food or giving spare change…I want to make a difference…I don’t know how yet but I will soon.


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