I have looked forward to my holiday in Mauritius arguably for 9 years but more accurately, 9 months, from the moment we booked and it became official that I was going.
The sun shone, and when it rained, it didn’t fill me with woe like it always does when I peer from behind my curtains in Manchester knowing that I’d have to don my East is East parka and and sometimes did, when I spied it drizzling over London knowing that I’d sit soggy on the tube. Everything tasted amazing. I ate bread every morning with gateaux piment, their much better version of falafel, and didn’t think about carbs once. I washed in showers with a bucket and a jug and never felt cleaner and more refreshed. I shared a bed with my sister for two weeks straight and never resented it whilst at home, I’d prickle if she’d been in my room even if nothing had moved.
I got up early every morning to have tea with my uncle who inexplicably says I’m his favourite despite the fact we don’t often chat or spend time together and laughed uncontrollably with my cousin getting up to no good like we’d been best friends for years. My very old grandma scolded my dad in front of us to our delight and told us stories of her father and the sugar cane fields and the ‘blancs’ who would visit. She applied cream to a burn I had and I mourned for every bit of grandmotherly affection I’d missed out on for 26 years, my parents being immigrants. I relished the role of being the oldest cousin and the respect and wonder it brought with it and was delighted when an actual Mauritian thought I was a real one of them because my Creole was so convincing. I threw my self into the traditions of Mauritian weddings as my cousin got married. I danced sega and ate pineapples with chilli and salt and felt the sun on my back.
Every day, in England, where the streets are paved with gold, and you can buy everything in a supermarket and careers and Pret and instagram rule supreme, it’s easy to get lost in painting Mauritius as an idyllic isle without it’s own set of problems, but I still can’t help it. Always being stuck here and not here, straddling seas and borders and cultures and otherness and sameness and family and thinking of YOU and being selfish whilst struggling with the cultural implications of that, is frankly exhausting. As is trying to maintain relationships via whatsapp and Skype and a time difference. It’s strange though how you click back into the puzzle as soon as you arrive back and get over that initial bit of shyness, but you’re never really meeting a stranger going back. They know you without having met you cos you recognise so much of yourself.
What I’d give to be in that blissful state of holiday for a few more weeks.
I won’t leave it 9 years again but even 9 months right now seems a stretch to wait to feel as if you’ve gone home and on holiday all at once.