I wake up from a deep sleep, startled by silence and a bed devoid of him. I lay spread eagled, entangled in white cotton sheet, a sense of solitude overwhelming me as soon as I open my eyes.
The desert heat clings to my body while a pale moon tries it's best to break through thick, brown silky drapes. I drag myself up, feeling a twinge in my lower back and pull the clawing nightdress down thick hips and thighs.
Middle age bringing unwelcome changes.
My feet hit lukewarm tiles as I stumble the short distance to the window, hanking the brown open to reveal the the mosque the colour of sand. In the distance it's soft lights are alluring against a dark sky.
The call to prayer begins as I stand silently staring out at University City Road. No screeching tyres, honking horns, or irate drivers to disturb the peace. Only an ocassional early morning traveller making his way along the quiet streets of sleepy Sharjah.
The adhan is soothing and I am instantly alert, a sense of urgency guiding me towards my morning prayers.
So much sand.
How did I get here?
The thought flashes through my tired brain as an endless reel of power points and grammar concepts, marks and numbers play on repeat. Over and over again, foreign faces looking up at me speaking at them in a foreign tongue; hearing foreign back:
A plane flies overhead, two ticks and it would bring it's passengers safely to DXB.
So much sand.
The green and the blue.
The rhythm of my African homeland.
The noise and the chaos; the silence and serenity.
I miss my people with their booming voices and huge hearts.
And them, my two guys, and our quiet home where Table Mountain greets me and the sound of the ocean calls me to its shore.
I kneel down in fervent prayer, the longing in me tangible and vast like the desert along the road to Al Dhaid.
I bow down and acquiesce giving thanks for this journey.
I am a thousand miles from home.
On a journey to self.
Finding my way to a better me.
Finding my way home.