We were airborne once again. Our South African Airways A340-300 was dashing through the sky like an arrow towards its target. At our easterly route 39,000 feet cruising altitude, the air was thin and a frigid -55°C, but as smooth as a lake’s surface on a foggy morning. Our speed hovered just below that of sound and we’d cover in about an hour a distance that had taken us 3 full days in the Landcruiser.
Soon we’d leave Lesotho far behind the right wing and it would recede into the realm of magical travel memories. Theoretical now were also Constantia and the therapy corgis, the graceful sun birds, the rowdy hadedas, the night time owls, the luxuriant garden, the burning of Table Mountain at sunset, the late breakfasts on the terrace as the day is warming up, the long lunches under the giant plane tree and the candlelit dinners listening to the wind on the greenbelt’s poplars.
What lay ahead in our lives remained uncertain and challenging, future and past echoing in a thoughtful dialogue and carving each another in real time while one unfolded and the other recoiled. Where we went from there was still up in the air, as were we.
So I might have been distracted. When leaving the plane in Jo’burg, I forgot my trusted G10 camera in the seat pocket in front of me. I only realized my mistake two hours later when already seated aboard the following flight to JFK and barely managed to get a flight attendant to communicate with their ground crew. It turned out the camera had been found and sent to the lost luggage department for lack of time to do any better.
I don’t think I’ll ever see it again. A camera left alone in a Johannesburg lost and found department reminds me a bit of a photon entering a black hole. One knows how it gets there but nobody has a clue of what really happens to the particle next. Maybe it goes to a parallel universe through a worm hole. In a way, that would be a consolation. They exist, those parallel universes. We happened to superficially explore one while in Cape Town. It’s called Khayelitsha. It was a difficult trip and back, I will post about it. The strange thing about worm holes is that one comes back out feeling smaller. Some substance is lost, it would seem, or maybe it is just confidence.
Khayelitsha, after all, is the second largest township in South Africa after Soweto.