Here I am.
Sitting at my desk.
After last week’s tense, stressful wait for the prof’s immigration status to be legalised when his first visa reached its end date. (Normally done without too much hassle by contacting immigration, signing papers and paying payments.)
After panicking when he was silent for 24 hours, during which I thought he may have been arrested by the immigration police. (It has happened before, I was with him, well, until they took him away to a police vehicle by the side of a road at a road block, that is. Just so you know this is not my idle imagination at work.)
After finally seeing it all come out right in the end…
… except it hasn’t.
Let me explain why I get involved, for those of you who think I should just stay out of it, let my best-beloved sort out his own problems in the field. Aside, of course, from the fact he is my best-beloved.
First of all, I have no choice but to keep an active eye on our bank balance while he’s away. The Zambian Kwacha is not what you might call a widely recognised currency and he has to pay his way, largely in cash, by taking out large quantities from working ATMs.
I have not used our joint account since he left, so he could have free rein. And luckily I have a small separate one of my own for just this reason. From which I can top ours up if necessary.
I also keep a weather eye on his inbox – with his permission – so I can see any bear-traps in the offing. Sometimes it’s impossible for him to communicate across continents in a timely enough way to get things done when a famed Zambian ‘just now’ fails the upgrade to ‘now now’ .
Which is why, on Friday, when I imagined all was well, I did wonder about the emails about exports, about invoices, about … university finance replies unopened.
And sure enough, this lunchtime, an email.
Please contact [names supplied].
Tell them the invoice for import agent clearing (an invoice a month old in Kwacha, only on Friday deemed unacceptable, must be in dollars or pounds) and a so far non-existent one for export, have to be paid or he can’t bring any of the valuable kit he imported with great difficulty – and at great expense – back home again.
Which I am guessing means he would have to leave without it as his new, temporary visa says he must “wind up and leave”. See his latest post here. [Done on Sunday when the bandwidth stretched far enough to cope]
I am always willing to help, if not always happy.
And what I am definitely not happy to do is to sit here doing nothing except metaphorically biting my nails (there’s nothing real left to bite – thanks to all the cleaning 😉 I’ve been doing) while receiving ‘helpful’ advice.
Which is why I don’t usually share such hassles. Because then I get:
“Have you tried…”
“Why doesn’t he …”
“Why do you have to…”
Well, you know what? It’s just not that easy.
If there is no bandwidth there is no email.
If the Zambian phone (which makes lousy connections anyway) doesn’t have enough credit it won’t accept my call.
If he doesn’t have his UK phone on I can’t call that and of course, ditto.
If he’s not in his backpacker hostel (yes, I rang their landline and he isn’t) then I have run out of options.
Forget WhatsApp and Facebook calls and Skype everything else.
We’re talking a place where you can’t depend on electricity at all times, let alone communications.
And today we cannot communicate.
So, yes, I call university finance. They are sympathetic and helpful.
Yes they are ready to jump through hoops to get the things paid. But there are no invoices that are payable.
They cannot pay non-existent invoices.
And the prof cannot write them, the export/import agents have to do that.
And the time is an hour different in Zambia. An hour later there, so the afternoon ticks away…
And I am tired, anxious, fed up and have done next to no creative writing in over six weeks. Haven’t even submitted the novel, the first planned task of this stint ‘alone’, to more than two agents.
‘Real’ writers say, I can’t not write, I will always find time to write, come what may.
Well, I’m obviously not a writer.
Yes, I have set up a website, created a couple of items – words in hardcopy for sale. Organised ISBNS. Bought specialist packaging and all that stuff.
I’ve blogged for six years (though only once in the last six weeks).
I compose in my head the whole time.
But if I were a ‘real’ writer I could be writing.
And people wonder why I call this memoirs of a husk.
But fortunately there’s a remedy for temporary huskitis.
“Tea tempers the spirit and harmonises the mind, dispels lassitude and relieves fatigue, awakens thought and prevents drowsiness.’
Lu Yu, the Sage of Tea, born 733.
Now, just to choose which one.