Writes is a collection of new work by writers from Melbourne’s
West and beyond, published online. Curated by Bigoa Chuol.
About the Author
Adut Wol is a south Sudanese writer and poet currently based in the Northern Territory. Her aim is to write stories that are relatable. She is a contributor in Growing up African in Australia.
Image provided by Adut Wol.
Writes is supported by Malcolm Roberson Foundation.
In October 2019, I saw a psychic who was fortuitously recommended by a friend. Excited about all the positive reassurance and clarity she was offered. I needed some for myself, because hey, why not. I was due some serendipity.
So cautiously optimistic; I barely took in the surroundings, let alone what she looked like. She told me what age I would be married – I played it cool of course, how she saw me engaging with people and inspirationally speaking from a stage. But, my attention was irrefutably caught when she mentioned my cousin who had passed, who still communicated with me through animals.
This all clicked to me, we had a stubborn crow who would come to our house every day and just starkly watch, my relationship to the crow eventually intensified, I remember walking up to them one morning and asking them who they were and what they wanted. It was exasperating!
The rapport was definitely building now.
When she began to speak about this ‘new change’ on the horizon that really got me going. I had been feeling stuck for a long time. I worked in numerous jobs I didn’t enjoy in the slightest. My love life was verging on none existent, and it just felt like I was moving in a self-replicating circle from one underwhelming job to the next. Jobs I was only hired for after I changed my name.
Okay, it wasn’t made certain whether it would be a good change or a bad change.
Change, ‘the process of something becoming different – altered – new’ I imagined.
This was going to be a huge leap of faith and obviously, desirable to want a good change. February and March was when it was all set to take place.
There was also a deep bog called the mid-twenties that was despairing and inescapable. If there was a centre to this abyss, it was clinging to me.
I was having a hard time with everything. What could lessen the proverbial pinch of failure? Constantly wading through a mental fog for a sense of direction was exhausting.
What did happiness mean for me? Happiness FOR ME, not an extension from my loved ones, which seemed to be the only way I saw myself, who was I outside the entanglements of familial relationships?
I should mention, I have a disposition for not asking for help. Maybe a deeper truth is, not knowing how. Now that I think about, I should have probably seen a therapist first, instead of a psychic.
The visit with the psychic did feel therapeutic. Was it probable that a mere stranger could woo destiny in an hour? With a bit of compensation, expand my possibilities a little more.
I was flat and low on vigour for life. A small peak, a scrape at insight, surely, cannot be too much to ask.
Short-term plan: Daydream a bit, wait and breathe.
So, Alice Springs it was, I moved 2 months after my reading. Not for any symbolic reason, a good friend had moved there months earlier.
I got a job by December, not the job the psychic had implored me to figure out. But one as a Disability Support Worker, I thought about my whole ass degree for a second, that I spent years begging myself to finish. Environmental Science. I wonder how heavy the HECS was in 1 litre tubs of Farmers Union yogurt. Yup – heavy!
There is dull heaviness all through my body; I push it to the back of mind. Avoidance, also a common disposition we will come to later.
Alice was hot. By 10am it was already 37 degrees, by noon a Kakuma hot 45 degrees. The intermittent breeze flowing through the house offered much needed reprieve.
I was living with two friends; we shared one car between us and triumphantly managed to coordinate our varying job schedules. A drop off here, a pick up there, seamless.
So, everything was definitely going according to the readings. We moved houses that December too and I was excited, I could almost taste the edges of February. The new house was a dream, it looked like the kind of house a South Sudanese first generation migrant parent would be proud to visit and drink shai in. It daunted on me quickly, that in the entire house we had one air conditioner in the living room.
Before long it was routine, by 7am I would stumble wearily from my room and move there to sleep under it. It would be a nice nap before I had to go to work.
After a couple of weeks, I could not sleep in my room at all; it felt stifled though I slept with the window open.
The sleep in the living room was ok at first. I would wake up at least three times at night to turn the aircon on and off. Turn it on when the coolness had dissipated and off when I started to cough too insistently.
My nights in December felt so long, as if they were conspiring against me; I wanted my new beginning to quit dragging.
Eventually, the aircon was on all night long.
What I could only describe as a dullness was intensifying.
I couldn’t keep cool.
I couldn’t feel the air on my skin anymore.
I couldn’t keep from sweating.
I asked my friend one afternoon, if they were having trouble ‘feeling the air’…which sounds like a ridiculous thing to utter so casually. Between a lifted brow “what?’ and “huh” we laughed it off and fixed our attention back on the television. My body was becoming increasingly senseless. I swallowed the building anxiety heavily.
By this point, I was drinking a Nile River amount of water night and day. And still sleeping with the aircon on and high. It would make sense that it was drying up my throat, the scaffolding for an unquenchable thirst.
I had an undisclosed rendezvous with the future; nothing was going to spoil it.
Jubilation was imminent.
Vivid dreams have been a common occurrence for as long as I can recall. During this period, they became overwhelming.
My friends would describe me as someone with a strong intuition. Haply tapped into those difficult to explain ‘feelings’ more than the average person anyway. I dream nonsensical dreams of course. Other times, I will get a strong hunch about something or someone and it happens.
During one of those sweltering sleeps, there was one in particular about a cat. I have always loved cats; there is a certain amount of delight when they approach me.
It was adorable, small, fluffy and black.
In the dream, I am in the front doorstep of our rental, I see her in the walkway as she takes several steps, and then stops to look at me. I take it as a sign to follow. The cat leads me out of the driveway. We don’t get very far when she stops, I stop too.
We start moving once more and come to an abrupt halt again next to a figure, she purrs, and loops between their legs.
I take my eyes off the cat and follow the tall frame up from the feet to face.
A beautiful black man, warm brown eyes.
He watched as the cat and I played together for a moment, before he walked over. We had a conversation, what about what, I cannot recall. I did get the feeling they were special to me.
On another evening as I relaxed on my fifty-dollar mattress under the aircon, I drifted to sleep. The black cat returned, licking the middle of my right palm. She began repeating;
“do you want me to bring your husband now?”
“do you want me to bring your husband now?”
“not right now. I am not ready right now” I muttered.
Give me two years.
I reached out my arms and wrapped the creature up.
It is a funny thing to want something and know very well you really aren’t ready.
January 25, I am on my way to work. The roadside was a hazy green. I couldn’t make out the individual leaves on the trees. It was as if they were being shook very fast and merged into one. Out of focus.
Between the intense dreaming and numbness throbbing throughout my limbs. My skin was beginning to dry and crack. No matter how much lotion I applied, my complexion looked faded in colour and my lips turned grey. My eyes were low and drowsy all the time. I lost 5 kilos in days.
My vision was continuing to worsen and fast.
By the end of week, I could not see my front door; I could not see the three fish we had in the tank. I could not read subtitles on my television.
At this point, I thought I should probably see a doctor.
I told the GP I could not see anything written on the office door, let alone read the eye test board, even though two weeks ago I had 2020 vision. Regrettably suspending my other symptoms, I was referred to the optometrist that same day. My sight was blurry as shit.
She was like “ok, let us give you some eye drops, your eyes might just be dry, if it does not help within the week than come back and we will look into other alternatives.”
After all the apprehension for February, things were literally getting bleaker by the second.
The eye drops did start to work, I could see my fish, read subtitles but not for too long. Otherwise, my eyes would start to feel strained and dry. I was still trying to push myself to work but I stopped driving entirely.
The intense thirst had returned vengeful. Not much was really changing. As someone who was fatigued, and often, it was habitually difficult to discern the difference.
Ribena and naps.
They always worked when I was a youngling. I went to the shops bought myself a bottle of Ribena, mixed myself a cup and took a sip. Sweet, cold, refreshing, yep just like my childhood.
The Ribena was giving me the energy I needed to complete a few tasks, so I decided to take on a hair client. She wanted single strand braids. 6 hours later, I was done and ordering a box of pizza. Three slices in and the food wasn’t settling.
I walked to the kitchen poured myself a glass of Ribena and gulped it down in seconds. I needed to vomit.
My grandmother was standing in the middle of my kitchen.
“Get up my daughter, come get this watermelon”
There as one last slice of yellow watermelon left in the fridge from earlier that day.
I woke up drenched in sweat. If my grandmother showed up in my dream, I knew was in trouble. My grandmother has always been my protector, even with her passing whenever she shows up in my dreams, I have to pay attention. I needed to go the emergence room.
I was gravely ill; it hadn’t quite hit me to what extent.
I was laid down in hospital; lightning the mood with jokes as the doctor and nurses were running around frantic. Probably a tactic more to hold back the tears.
I was diagnosed with diabetes. My blood came back with glucose reading of 28 and ketones reading on 6.6.
They could not conclude what type of diabetes it was, my blood had to be tied to the back of a camel and herded to Perth. Alice Springs does not have the laboratories to test them.
I was taking insulin shots and seeing doctors, dieticians, and diabetes educators all of March.
My vision got back to 2020, I could feel the wind again and Ribena was out of the question.
Come April and we are in lockdown due to COVID 19.
I asked the universe for a small wind and I got thrown into a tornado. Alice Springs was the first time in a long time that I had felt peace; perhaps it isn’t that ironic at all. My body finally felt safe enough to release.
Things are altered.