So when I walked into master control in the Media Centre at CHOGM (where I spent a hellish 12-hour shift from 8pm to 8am this morning, and where I am now) and got shown to the crew food table, I quickly scopsed out the variety of biscuits on offer: oreos, raisin shortbread, chips ahoy chocolate chip cookies, and a couple other kinds - I knew there would be trouble! Boredom + biscuits = trouble! I managed to resist (except for munching on a couple chocolate chip cookies last night. But then, who can blame me? Somehow, chocolate chip cookies always seem the most enticing; the most worthy of breaking the no-biscuit rule for.)
But I was caught off-guard tonight. I just happened to wander over to the couch (which is right next to the crew food table) with my book, Eat, Pray and Love. (Incidentally, I don't know why I'm stickin' with it - all this simi-dimi transcendental-search-for-God-and-love-in-an-Ashram rubbish is really starting to get to me!) I sat down to read, but got distracted (surprise surprise!) by the view just beyond the pages of my book: the chocolate burbon biscuits (another favourite of mine). I munched on one of those. It was okay. And for the heck of it, I grabbed the ginger snap biscuits and bit into one of them. It was a transcendental moment!!
I was immediately transported to my Granny's kitchen - the smell of it; the familiarity of it; the two tins of biscuits in the cupboard on the left above the glasses and soup bowls. My Grandmother's house was one place in England where I knew I was always welcome. It felt like home to me: I knew where everything was (including the biscuits); I knew what would be in the fridge; which chest-of-drawers the blue serviettes were in; which place mats to use to set the table; where Granny 'hid' the twiglets and bacon-flavoured crisps. Many months after my Grandmother died, when the things my Mum and I had inherited arrived in Trinidad and were unpacked, the most unsettling thing was that Mum's house smelt like Granny's house - like warmth and welcoming and ginger snaps with tea in the afternoon on Granny's ugly gold couch that I'd known all my life.
As I get older, I realise that the list of places that I know with certainty are mine is diminishing. My Granny's home in Godalming; my Dad's house high up in Stony Hill; Auntie Gay's crooked house in West Haddon. These certainties no longer exist, and I know the remaining ones will disappear in time. The day will come when my home, and my sister's home are all that are mine. I suppose that's the way it is meant to be - I'll be a full grown-up then. But those homes are with me always, and getting to them is as easy as biting into a ginger-snap, or hearing the sound of typing on a keyboard.