By Shameelah Khan
Working title: somewhere between sleeping and wanting to sleep
When I begin to dream, I stay awake and sometimes, I think of you
When they ask of you tomorrow
I will tell them that you are alive
everywhere inside of me
especially where I love myself
more than you did
where I love myself
almost as much as you did
Lebo Mashile, 2008
The anticipation of sleep beckons at my door for weeks and the insomniac inside of me screams an anthem of familiarity, disdain, and big fat nothings. I think about the negotiations of my past and if I had done a good job in being fair, just, and kind to the ones who entered into that negotiation with me. My body sometimes does a dance, but stays still. I actually heard my neighbour speaking to me once across our balconies, of course that was not really real. If she ever did though, I wonder what I would say, like “hey, do you listen to anyone other than Adele?” I literally sing, “GOD THAT’S GOOD!” Oh Sweeney Todd, I welcome with you Waiting for Godot- is this my life?
My roof still has that leak. Lists-checking- like fact-checking- leaving that up to those annoying, buzzing, cancel culture centennials. I finally understand plant-based eating. I don’t think I want to think about any more of that though, at this hour. I’ve set 7 alarms (just in case). IS THIS WHAT MANIA FEELS LIKE. Ever since the curfew, I no longer hear any cars outside of my window but I look out at the lights on the highway and I think they could be stars. It’s cold all of a sudden. I need an extra blanket. I need more than this. I anticipate dreams… sometimes when I don’t sleep for days, it becomes a dream…. Who am I kidding… anyway, I do love to dream – it is my favourite thing (after sleeping that is).
I wonder what is actually happening in Hillbrow – someone on twitter posted a video, and click, oh wow, someone just shot four people and ran away, I see some blood seeping out of the one man’s head. Another caption reads “there is a civil war right now in Hillbrow.” I remember once when I had taken the wrong turn and ended up in Hillbrow. You know I was actually conceived in Hillbrow, so the story goes. My father was a student, one of the first of colour to be accepted into Engineering during Apartheid, and my parents, who had married quite young, lived there for a bit. In my car, I recalled this story that day and I thought about what my life would have been had I lived there. Some people see Hillbrow as a very threatening space, but it is so layered with history, memory and lives-lived. I saw kids playing outside with their marbles, sandy-feet outstretched arms and un-tucked white shirts and school-grey pants. I saw ladies selling their food along the road. I saw a group of African Muslim women, some wearing their traditional turbans, twists and turns of colour and patterns, and others in those long, cascading colourful burqas. I saw a man sitting on the side of the road, smoking a cigarette selling second-hand books. He was reading the newspaper, minding his own business. Hillbrow has tall buildings of a rich, earthy palette. It has music that catches your ears from every corner and trickles of laughter and city banter. I made sure that my door was locked though and that I was checking over my shoulder. I wish I didn’t have to do that in my country anymore.
I think about the man from the video on twitter, laying on the street. I don’t know what is happening in Hillbrow right now and I really need to sleep. Off twitter.
I don’t know my city as I should. It keeps me awake at times.
Close your eyes and listen to something that helps with the anxiety of it all. THE SOUND OF THE VACUUM CLEANER for some reason, ever since I was a child, this sound puts me right to sleep.
And we’re listening.
This is calming me. Actually.
I keep seeing that man.
I feel too warm now.
Try not to.
I think I should pray.
Just listen to the vacuum.
… I can hear the sounds of the birds chirping now.
Maybe I am//////@@@@@%%%^^^&&&&***Zzzzzzzzzzzz
There are light drizzles on my roof, I smile…
Some morning light touches my wooden-floor…
I didn’t anticipate that.
In this issue:
10 Best Thriller Movies You Need to Watch: — Sam Aberdeen
Odd Mixtape — Amir Bagheri
Collective Anticipations: An Anthology — Alun Robert
hope, in a packet of seeds — Emalisa Rose
The Anticipating Hour — Jessica Robertson
Anticipatory Avoidance is My Mental State — Masoodah Mohamed
Anticipation in Three Parts — Thomas Stewart
Identity/Inertia — Lutfiyah Suliman
Odd Bookers: A tree, a bud and a flower — Radiyah Manjoo
Odd Bookers: Books I Am Anticipating for 2021 — Kelly Ansara
Odd Bookers: The Moralist — Joshua Marcus
Odd Bookers: The Oracle’s Journal — Dimitri Liountris