Thursday, 16 May 2013

Lawn Mower

Fingers are dancing their way across the keyboard, eyes focused on the words that materialized in the wake of each fervent rush of taps, a black trail of prose across a white and waiting canvas.  The 'whish whish' of the washing machine was busy in the background, its familiar sound ignored by the woman staring intently at the screen of the computer balanced purposefully upon her lap as she types and reads, types and reads. 
The typing stops as the woman tilts her head, her eyes no longer held by the tale she is weaving for an audience she imagines exists, and a frown creases her once young brow.  She listens to the sound that has snuck its way under her veil of concentration like the wafting scent of another woman's expensive perfume.  A low rumble is reverberating its way through the closed, lightly curtained windows.

As the noise grows to a roar, the metal door that separates the baking heat of a Saudi summer sun from the air conditioned cool of her one bedroom apartment, begins to emit a metallic 'twing', something it has never done before. 
The woman sits back, and lifts her eyes from the computer screen  'Is that a lawnmower?' she wonders.
She whips the computer from her lap and stands to gaze through the netted curtain, browned by the ever present Saudi dust and in need of another wash.  'OMG', she whispers to herself, a smile of disbelief tugging at the corner of mouth, her unplucked eyebrows raised in astonishment, 'it is a lawnmower! 
The contraption was snarling it's way over the patches of grass huddled between flower beds that would be bursting with healthy colour if the petals weren't limp and leaning under the blazing, orbed sun.  Smoke was pouring from the machines carriage, cloaking the green body driving it in a petrol fumed haze.  'OMG', she says again, exhaling a breath she hadn't realised she'd been holding.  'It's a lawnmower!'

That was last year.
I couldn't believe it.  A lawnmower had arrived on the compound.  It was a crappy old thing in need of a spark plug clean among other things.  And the blokes obviously weren't used to it.  They were having trouble maneuvering it between the numerous landscaped tree trunks and clay brick bench seats that adorn our outdoor common areas.

That fact that progress had come to our patch of Saudi real estate in the form of a lawnmower made me chuckle a little to myself.  At the same time, I wondered what would happen to the Bangladeshi guys that had been arriving en masse each week to hand cut our ever green, well watered grass with hedge clippers?  They would creep over the lawns in little huddled groups, crouched on the ground in their dark green overalls, the only sound a snip, snip of clippers or a word spoken to each other in a language I didn't understand.

These days, the hedge clippers are saved for those hard to reach places the mower can't get to.   I'm wondering when they are going to rock up with a Whipper Snipper, retiring the clippers from lawn maintenance duties.

The garden blokes are well versed in the use of a lawn mower now.  It's not a old crappy thing any more, and it doesn't smoke either.  It even has a catcher!

It's funny the things that can capture your attention, isn't it.  Lawnmowers powering their way over back and front yards is a regular occurrence in NZ, and most other places around the globe I presume.  You hardly pay them any notice, except when you have to turn the telly up because the rip of the lawnmower right outside the lounge windows is disrupting you viewing pleasure or wayward blades of grass wind up in boot shaped splotches on the kitchen floor when the lawn mower pusher trudges his (or her) way indoors for a well earned glass of iced water.

The sight and sound of a loud, beaten up lawnmower that the Old Lawmower Club would probably be proud to give a home (I bet you didn't know there was an Old Lawnmower Club did you?), made me feel a little homesick when it arrived that day, a year ago.  Now, of course, the sound of the mower echoing between the compound walls affects me a little less emotionally though, some days, I wouldn't mind getting my hands on the thing and cutting a few strips in the lawn myself just to make me feel normal again in this, oft times, surreal country.

Ka Kite,

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