It was loud! Very loud! And it was coming from nearby on the compound. As I rapidly ascended from deep sleep to wakefulness I really couldn’t explain it. All I knew was that it was loud. Then as I gained consciousness I realised it was a roaring sound, like a jet. It was pitch black I could see nothing, but the roar persisted. It sounded like something rushing out of a pipe. Was it gas I feared? If so then an explosion might follow. Maybe it was steam or water? I followed the sound – it was definitely outside; not inside. Still sleepy I switched on the light and fumbled for shorts and a T-shirt. As I found my sandals, the sound suddenly stopped. Even so I was dressed now and wide awake so I left the house and followed the path to the centre of the compound. There outside a colleague’s house they were gathered. Other colleagues blearily staring through the gloom, gazing at the site, and the family displaced for the moment from their house. The house where it had happened. Around the outside of the Askaris gathered around the site which once was an external water heater – the heater had exploded in the night and the sound we had heard was a jet of water escaping from the damaged pipes.
After a few moments of chat we then returned to our beds – it was 4am.
As I walked back along the path I glanced up at the stars above – expecting to see new unfamiliar patterns, instead I glimpsed The Plough and Orion. Familiar constellations in a foreign land. I went back to sleep.It had been a rude awaking!