My House Before It Leaves

A Haibun

By Arushani Govender

Parents chatter about selling the house behind damp walls and under flickering lights. The chandelier hangs above the central foyer with a broken arm, swung downwards. Its glassy, tulip-shaped exterior threatens to crash on heads of guests.

A plug point in the bedroom crackles when switched on. Blisters are plump on beige painted walls, provoking popping. The cupboards do not lock but are jammed shut with the sleeves of old shirts. Vertical, fabric, blinds are tangled together and twisted into the corners of burglar guards. Crevices in the ceiling spill rainwater, collected by old, washing powder buckets.

Armies of ants march sneakily with breadcrumbs upon black, granite kitchen tops. The wooden doors creak. The glass doors squeak. Visitors take departure and the kettle stops gurgling. Chimes clank in the foyer—suns, moons and stars colliding—when the wind comes.

Outside, the triangular roof is hatted with black tiles, wet and dangerous under downpour. Beneath the tip is the foggy attic window, alone at the peak, watching the neighborhood.

wind blows upon thatch

koi swim in flower-filled pond,

cracked window glares

The mango tree in the centre of the yard can no longer hold up after losing many arms. Remaining ones carry pointed leaves, sagging to the ground from brittle bark.

But inside, the laundry room is lined with broken cabinets and sawdust-spewing kists in which mouldy teddy bears and rusty bicycles sleep. Pre-school notebooks enclose smashed crayons, compressed under faulty hi-fis and wicker baskets; smelling of a time never to be had again.

crisp dawn Summer breeze

hard mango leaves rustle

distant rooster cackles