At Underwater WorldA shark floats above my head. It is as if it were flying. It is alarming when it comes up from behind. I feel like I could reach up and touch its sleek underside. The shark does not look so much vicious as it does stupid, its mouth hanging lazily open. I am wondering why the sharks do not attack and eat the other fish. Perhaps they are just that well fed, or simply do not eat the types of fish they are housed with.
Naughtyman is enjoying the sharks but he does not go too close to the glass. He prefers to run up and down, shouting "hello, hello", anyway. He is a simple, warmhearted boy. He has taken to his granny in a big way. He is always pulling her by the hand, wanting to share with her. He wants to visit their house, he says. I think my children would be happier -- although there is not much in it because they are happy children -- in the UK. But I would think that!
I am not a fan of zoos or the like, but Zenella went to Underwater World on a school trip and wanted to go again. I knew I would be fascinated, even as I didn't approve. But I was even more interested than I had thought. Undersea is truly another planet.
For some reason, Underwater World has a small collection of animatronic dinosaurs. They are not very convincing but they convince Naughtyman. The rubber and plastic T Rex roars at him and he screams and starts howling. "I want to go home," he cries. I pick him up. There is nothing I like more in this life than to be a safe haven for my kids. Naughtyman pulls himself as close as he could, burying his face in my neck. Curiously, I feel safer when they do that. It makes me feel strong and bold, capable.
How much I love them! Sometimes I can scarcely look at them, my heart pounds so hard. I am overwhelmed by a nameless emotion. Whenever I feel sorry that my life has taken twists I would wish it had not, I remind myself that they are the destination it led to.
I remember when the bush down in the park at the end of our road was on fire. The sky was full of smuts, the smell of smoke overpowering. Naughtyman was as scared by it as he had ever been. I made the children tea and sat them at the dining table. Zenella would go to look at the fire, which meant being out of sight on the verandah, and Naughtyman would cry. "Where's Zenella?" he sobbed. He was scared that the fire had come to get her.
In the end, he couldn't take any more. He climbed into my lap and cuddled in. I held him close, and if I moved, he made me move back, so he was cradled just so. Eventually, he fell asleep, and I put him down in his cot. Usually, he will wake in the late evening, and ask for water, or a cuddle. But that night he slept through.