The last couple of days have been a time of waiting for Cyclone Gita to turn up; a little different from Waiting for Godot – we know Gita will arrive. Now it’s Tuesday morning, the day it’s supposed to occur. Nothing yet. A gentle rain, that’s all.
I spent yesterday in Greymouth at the ambulance station. It was a day devoted to preparing for disaster: getting fuel for the generator, deciding where to park the ambulances in case garage doors get blown in – that sort of thing. The service stations were busy, as were the supermarkets.
It made me realise how appalling it must have been in Iraq, waiting for the Coalition to begin its bombardment. Or any other war situation for that matter. Crouching in trenches waiting to attack.
I brooded on other forms of waiting. Waiting through the Cuban missile crisis as an adolescent. Waiting in refugee camps for some door to open and the growing hopelessness as nothing happens. Or waiting for the SS to arrive and cart you off to a death camp.
Waiting to die if terminally ill and the different quality of waiting for family and close friends.
Fundamentalists waiting for the second coming.
Pregnant women waiting to go into labour.
The waiting time when you know a relationship’s finished but no one quite knows how to end it.
Parents of young children waiting for the child to fall asleep, or wake up.
Waiting for the toddler to catch up. Caring for a young child taught me to wait.
Village people know how to wait. When we performed in Tokelau the audience might turn up an hour before the scheduled start. And happily sit there, waiting. On Sunday waiting for the sermon to finish. A lot of waiting on Sundays. Perhaps the waves on the reef cancel time.
Coral atolls waiting to be inundated.
The extraordinary waiting time of the galaxy. Light that began a thousand light years ago falling on the retina. Unbelievable.
The waiting time on a bank or government department’s phone line. Ten minutes. Twenty minutes. A busy time but we value your call…
The rain gets a little heavier. A neighbour’s got a funeral to go to.
Will the Yanks attack today? Will the SS arrive? If we charge will I die?
The Frank’s family extraordinary wait. Julian Assange in the Ecuador Embassy.
The first gust of wind. The rain’s a little heavier. Will the houses in Granity survive? Will the power system dissolve? Better locate the candles.
Waiting to hear about the job, or the grant application. Or the test result. Waiting to go on stage.
A hungry baby crying for the breast. The dreadful waiting in Gaza each night, as the drones hover. Anxiety.
John Metekingi once said to me, ‘Those fullas sitting on the beach in the old days, staring out at the empty Pacific, were waiting for something to turn up.’
The sail on the horizon? Or the cyclone of climate change?
The air stirs. Something’s happening.
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