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A sequence of events at the SuccessSpark Retreat

By Maria Birungi

 

22nd November 2018- Morning.

It is the morning of 22nd November 2018. I am seated in a blue boat with a motor engine, whose sound is slicing through the quietness that engulfs Lake Victoria. I don’t know what I expected but I am surprised that the lake is silent; even the fishermen lack the boisterousness that I thought was a parcel that they carry with them to the water. Instead, they are serious. Everything is serious. Rather, every living thing seems to think that quietness is seriousness. Even us, in this boat. We are so serious that the jokes being made are about the possibility of goonyas and other terrifying underwater creatures. I look up at the cloudless sky and imagine that if someone was to look down at this boat in which I am seated, it would look like a small toy, leaving a trail of ripples in its wake; a child’s toy to be indulged with when the water loses its playful appeal.

22nd November 2018 (afternoon)

In the afternoon of that very day, after we arrive at Lagoon Resort; an establishment with quaint cottages for rooms, a white sand beach and a garden with tall trees which we would later be encouraged by the owner to go and explore in what he called ‘the nature walk,’ Zaina, Isabella, Sam, Flavia and I are seated in a tree house.  We, together with Jackee and Crystal (the facilitators) and Zahara, have just had our first meal in the dining area. The general consensus is that the chef was overwhelmingly good and generous with the portions that we each partook of our meals.  Jackee and Crystal are taking us through the different writing techniques and how each of them would best apply to our individual writing projects. Zahara is holding a camera and focusing it on objects, Haribu-the resident dog, texture, fabric, colour, faces, emotion. The click-click noise that I almost expected to hear from her camera is absent and I soon forget to be self-conscious for the photos.

23rd November

I am doing my assignment given by Jackee, on imagination. I am supposed to be imagining a character’s emotions and feelings. Earlier on in the day we were given texts to read, from which we could borrow a few techniques. They were both very intriguing especially since they were real and yet the events felt like fiction. I guess its true what they say ‘reality can read like fiction.’ My favourite thing about the location is that the quietness is a trigger for thought.

I am walking down towards the lake with Isabella and Sam. The sun is setting; it makes the sky looks like an artist spread an orange hue across it. I walk towards the two small boats that are lazily bobbing up and down. Zahara takes silhouette photos of us. She lets us do whatever we want.This is what peace is. This is what peace feels like.

24th November 2018.

On the night before we leave the resort, everything is slower.  The conversation rises and dips like waves and in some moments, stills. Earlier on in the day, we had individual sessions conducted by the facilitators. My session was conducted by Crystal. she asked me about how I got to know about the Nevender Legacy, which sponsored my attendance at the retreat and my understanding of its objectives. We talked about my writing habits and my goals and how best to improve them. we talked about life’s numerous paths too, where I would like to see myself, where I am and where I am from. As the evening’s light wore on into darkness, we all gathered for one last dinner meal at the dining table.

As the sounds of voices around the dining table dance to a slow rhythm, the darkness thickens. Haribu-the resident dog lies on his tummy next to a sculpture of a man and woman at the entrance of the reception. The candles on the table glow on.