It probably started in the early morning, with coffee and rusks, last-minute packing, desperate glancing at the watch, and running through a checklist to make sure nothing was forgotten.
Spare change of clothes: yep.
—“Where are the damn car keys?”
There might have been some frantic scrambling to get out of the house. Or none at all. Maybe the start was smoother than a sunrise and just as promising.
—“Hurry up, Kelsey!”
—“Jirre! Kom ons gaan!”
—“Shikukutu mooha shinenguni momupolo.”
The car was loaded. The boot was slammed shut. The seatbelts were clicked into place.
Or maybe they were forgotten.
The gate slid open effortlessly (or maybe a note was made to fix the hitch in the mechanism later, later when they returned home, later when there was time). The tyres caressed the tarmac, slowly, turning left and right in the pre-dawn stillness, navigating the sleeping neighbourhood streets.
An early start—a blessing.
The road opened up. The journey called.
“Where to, traveller?”
Away from the house called home. Away from the familiar street. Away and away.
Maybe to Swakopmund for work. Maybe to Okahao for a wedding. Maybe to Rehoboth for the weekend. Or, perhaps to the family farm out there in the wild for some quiet time.
Away. Always away.
Something started that was cut short.
You can see the little heaped stones, the flowers in a plastic bottle bleached by the sun. The RIPs. The miss-you-forevers. The dates that mark the entry and exit wounds of life.
From This Date—To This Date.
All past tense.
No future but grief.
They are everywhere, on both sides of the road, so common they do not even illicit a flutter of the eyelashes. As Namibian as the heat, the cold, the dust.
But they are here. The lines of a start, the cross of a middle, and the memory of an abrupt conclusion.
Shawn Van Eeden is an award-winning Namibian photographer whose design career started in London, England. After 12 years in London he moved back to Namibia. He worked at Y&R, in Windhoek, before founding CreativeLAB, his own full-time photography studio. Shawn’s work has been shortlisted for the Cannes Lions Awards and won various honours at One Eyeland Photography Awards, the Epica Awards, the Lucie Awards, and the Loeries.
Words by Rémy Ngamije.