Ken jy hierdie skrywer, Mevrou?

Soos 'n skilpad

Soos ‘n skilpad

Verlede week woon ek ‘n sessie by die Kleinmond Boekfees by.

‘n Paneelbespreking : “Om ‘n boek te publiseer”.

Daar sit ek in die geselskap van bekendes en kundiges en dit voel my Kleinmond se see kom woel in my gemoed.

Want sien, ek loop met stories in my hart.  Al vir jare lank.  Dis erg persoonlik en tog (so vertel die geleerdes) ook universeel.  Daar is glo niks nuuts onder die son nie.

So luister ek na die mense wat al jare in die publikasiebedryf werk en wat hulle te vertelle het, krap my behoorlik om.  Die hoop is min. Publikasie is maar vir ‘n uitverkore minderheid bestem. Dit wil-wil my moed breek.

Ek bewonder hulle vuur en drif en die herhaalde klem op professionaliteit.  Daar is selfs van hulle wat ook die pad van die skrywer stap (of al gestap het).  Ek wonder heimlik of hulle paadjie soos myne voel. Dit klink tog so.

Theresa Papenfus se: “Die angs het ‘n wonderlike werking” klink en voel vir my so reg.  Ek moet voortdurend waak dat die angs my nie lamlê nie. Dit kan my so maklik verhoed om selfs te probeer.  Dit kan my vir dae muilband.

Genadiglik is dit nooit vir té lank nie.  Daar is iets in my wat moet – ten alle koste wil skryf.  Dit dryf my.  Ek is eenvoudig nie myself as ek nie skryf nie. Dis beter vir al wat leef en beef dat ek na hartelus kan tik.

Ek worstel met my gevoelens oor die gesprek.

Dan onthou ek die skilpad.

Op ‘n dag lees ek dat ‘n skilpad die simbool van ‘n skrywer is.  Dit maak vir my volkome sin.  As skrywer steek ek my kop uit.  Ek waag dit om iets te probeer verwoord en neer te pen –  vir die wêreld om te sien en lees. Kom daar positiewe terugvoer, is die vreugde groot.  Is die kommentaar minder vleiend, trek ek summier terug in my dop, waar ek mooi met myself moet praat voor ek dit weer huiwerig uitwaarts waag.

Ek lees graag oor ander skrywers en hulle prosesse. Onlangs verslind ek onder andere JK Rowling en Stephen King se top tien wenke vir sukses en sug van verligting.

Want sien, ek herken tog myself daarin!

Ek herken my gedurige stryd om te glo dat ek kwalifiseer om myself “ ‘n skrywer” te mag noem.

Al die aanmanings van die groot geeste oor wat skryf nou eintlik van ‘n mens verg, laat my glimlag, want ek kan vasbyt!  Ek kan torring en oorskryf en weer oorskryf.  Ek kan ook, deur die genade, terugstaan en met verwondering kyk hoe ander dit wat ek begin het, neem en daarmee toor. Ek kan my verlustig in die skeppende samewerking wat uiteindelik tot ‘n finale produk lei – een wat hopelik betower en verryk. Iets wat ek wil beweer die wêreld ‘n beter (of sal ons maar beskeie wees en sê “‘n veranderde plek”) maak.

Ken jy hierdie skrywer, Mevrou?

Ek skryf omdat ek nie anders kan nie.

Ek wil iets wondermooi skep wat ander raak en verander. Dis my geskenk aan die wêreld.

Dit maak my gelukkig.

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Toi-toiende beskermengele

Daar was hierdie week twee prentjies op “face boek” wat my gees laat wandel het.

Een was van ‘n voeding-stellasie vir kalwertjies en die ander van ‘n Aga-stoof  en varsgebakte plaasbrode (Fotokrediet – Die Goeie Ou Dae – https://web.facebook.com/Die-Goeie-Ou-Dae-411664659032082/)

Die Goeie Ou Dae

My Afrikaanse plaashart roep my en ek moet antwoord.

Jare gelede het ons op Tulbagh gaan boer.  Hoe ons daar beland het, is ‘n lang en ingewikkelde eg Afrikaner-familie-saga-storie.  Kom ons los dit eerder net daar en sê net dat ek en my gesinnetjie vir ons ‘n mal (maar bittermooi en opwindende) perd opgesaal het.

Die plaas het vir ongeveer twaalf jaar braak gelê, die kweek was die wingerd vol en ons het geen kapitaal gehad om mee te boer nie. In ‘n poging om die nodige fondse te genereer, het my man in Johannesburg as ‘n konsultant gewerk en net vir ‘n paar dae ‘n week huis toe gekom.

Toe ek my oë uitvee, is ek die boer.

Gelukkig was daar ‘n baie ervare span werkers. So kon die groentjie Mevrou (en die plaas en sy mense) oorleef tot manlief weer tuiskom met opdragte oor wat volgende moet geskied.

Daar was dierbare bure wat die nuweling jammer gekry het en allerlei maniere gevind het om onopsigtelik raad te gee.

Die dierbaarste was oom Japie, my ses-en-tagtigjarige buurman se manier van doen.  Sê die oom : “ Ek sien Pieter Oukloof ploeg nog nie!” Dan weet ek, ek moet aanstaltes maak om te ploeg.

Oom Japie het vir my hanslammers aangedra tot ek ‘n fris troppie gehad het.  Net die eerste een het ‘n naam gekry – Mêrie.  Die werksmense het ‘n stellasie geprakseer. Dit was ‘n lang plank hout met gate in met onderstebo Bashew-bottels (op die solder gevind) en koöperasietiete sodat die lammers op ‘n streep langs mekaar kon staan en melk drink.

‘n Mens moes net bystaan en die gulsiges ‘n raps op die boud gee as hulle eerste klaar was en dan hulle mater uit die pad gestamp het om ‘n tweede tiet te gryp!

Die melk is deur Bonita verskaf. Later was dit ons plaas se trots, Elektra, wat op 27 April 1994 gebore is, wat die lammers van hulle voggies voorsien het. Ek was nooit self regtig ‘n wat wafferse melker nie (al het ek probeer!) en moes my ook daar op die vaardigheid van die span beroep.

Bonita was dragtig met Elektra,  toe ek, vergesel van oom Japie en sy seun, Anton, op my heel eerste BKB veiling die geluk gehad het om die regte koei te kies!  Meer geluk as wysheid! Genade en dierbare bure was volop!

Ek moes baie dinge leer en vinnig ook.  Ek was terselfdertyd ook die meestal- alleenma van twee laerskoolkinders met al die karwei ensovoorts wat dit behels.

Ons het elke week twee maal Kaap toe gery om manlief te gaan haal en weg te bring, soms saam met ‘n vraggie groente vir die mark.  My bure was erg besorg oor die ryery, maar ek het altyd gespot en gesê my beskermengele toi-toi waarskynlik vir oortyd, want ek het nooit eers ‘n pap band ervaar nie.

Hierdie week (‘n goeie twintig jaar later) sit ek by my boeklub en die vrouens praat oor hulle ervarings en gee mekaar raad.  Ek onthou skielik ‘n heel oomblik op Tulbagh.  Ek en my buurvruens hou bybelstudie en skielik is daar ‘n ongemaklike geskuifel en ek sien hulle kan my nie lekker in die oë kyk nie.

Hulle stamp so liggies aan mekaar tot een brawe siel kug en sê: “Ons mans het gesê ons moet jou vra of jy bewus is dat die man wat jy so bestuurslesse gee in die tronk was vir manslag?”

Hulle het na my voorman verwys en ek het gelukkig wel sy geskiedenis geken – dit het alles op die lappe gekom toe ons onderhoude met elkeen gevoer het toe ons by die plaas aankom.  Wat ek altyd sal onthou van daardie oefening, was nie Dawid se bende- en tronkgeskiedenis nie, maar die totale onbegrip in sy oë en gesig toe ons gevra het wat sy drome vir homself is!

 

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Praying our goodbyes!

Chased by a tolbos

The day we were chased by a “tolbos”(tumbleweed)!

Many years ago during a period of great transition, I was introduced to the concept of “praying our goodbyes”.

Now, as my love and I are poised to embark on new (and as yet unknown) adventures, I find this phrase dancing in my heart.

It is about consciously letting go what was, to make way for the new. Also about examining each experience, place or relationship whilst savouring it’s essence and marvelling in the gifts it has brought into one’s life.

The purpose of this examination, I suppose, is to become aware so that the letting go and the inevitable grieving that forms part of any change, is experienced fully.  This is certainly a good ritual for someone like me who is inclined to the sentimental and soulful way of being.

It might seem to some that this process is maudlin and that it is unhealthy to wallow in sadness and feeling.  I know my partner will almost certainly see it that way.  He is made of sterner stuff and prefers (or so it seems to me) to close the door firmly without so much as a backward glance.  He is also the one who loves change and thrives on the thrill of new challenges.

For me though, this ritual replaces a practice I had for many years of collecting things objects , pieces of paper , train tickets, feathers – you name it, I collected – countless reminders of places visited, people met and experiences had. Whenever I had to move, there would be boxes and boxes of these tangibles mementos that needed to be carted with me.  At the new dwelling, however big or humble, space would have to be made for all these boxes.

At some point, I decided it was enough.  I let them all go. I unpacked them one last time, handled them with love and care, said goodbye and moved on.  Some of the mementos were passed on to my daughter, son or to others that might enjoy them, but most were burnt with the certain knowing that whilst the object might be going up in flames, the experience never would.

It seems Life had taught me, at long last, that we are the sum total of all our experiences: the good, the bad, the ugly (yay …soundtrack!), however we may label them.  With each new encounter, we are transformed whether we are aware of it or not.

So, as I pack up my worldly possessions to leave the beautiful place I have called home for the past four years, I gently and tenderly embrace the starlit skies; dew speckled morning walks; the sunlight glinting on the dam / the sea as we look out to the horizon bumping along on the road; the jackal buzzard’s gliding flight; amazing surprise sightings on the road of leopards, porcupines and so much more.

I reflect briefly on the people and happenings that have become part of my life as is my bent. Some will stay in my heart forever and others will gradually fade from my memory having played their part in changing me.

And for all of this, I am truly grateful.

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To write again!

We have been on leave for the last three weeks. Tomorrow we head back.

To real life. To the hospitality industry that challenges me in so many ways.

Time is up and I have not written at all.

Not one word!

So here I am ready to try  before everyday demands attempt to devour my time and energy again.

I have not spent a lot of time on Facebook whilst on leave, but there was one post that spoke to me on so many levels.

I love the “Ravenous Butterflies” posts that come my way from time to time. The posts  consist of beautiful, I mean simply exquisite, images…often paintings filled with colour, delicate feminine figures and the like.

Invariably , I feel my soul respond and I share it to my timeline so that I will find it again in the endless stream of posts and impulses that is social media.

This particular post was no exception.

Posted on 26 January at 9h44 pm was this  painting by Anders Zorn with the quote:

“ In such ugly times, the only true protest is beauty”.

ravenous-butterflies-anders-zorn

I felt my soul cry out in recognition of a sense I sometimes experience when watching a wonderful movie or reading a really gripping story. It visits me too when I listen to moving music or see actors perform from the magical place where their true Being resides.

This longing, this urge and compelling desire that wells up in me , I realized, is exactly this: to create something of beauty.

It is not necessarily “pretty” or particularly easy- this thing I want to create. It is often raw and real rather than pleasing.  The  beauty lies in the authenticity. The honesty that calls to my soul and hopefully also to other kindred spirits sometimes. It is one of recognition and response which makes me feel less foreign and different in this world.

I had not made the connection, though. That this urge that we  have to create,  can be  our protest in “such ugly times”!

Often when I feel the call, there is a distinct , yet nebulous , sub-text of wanting to make a difference .  My Inner Mean Girl immediately dismisses this as grandiose  and narcissistic !

Here’s the thing, though.  For me ,  part of wanting to create,  is being thin-skinned, sensitive to impulses and images, tones of voice and even , dare I say it, energies  that seem to pass others by.

Seeing this need of mine to create “beauty” , as a protest,  really works for me.

On a deep and profound level.

Being  more  sensitive, open  , exposed  and instinctual  than some others (or at least feeling that this is the case) means that I often feel overwhelmed and despairing about the state of the world and man’s inhumanity to man (and women , of course)!

Tend to lose my precious sense of humour,  when I need it most.

So ..Inner Mean Girl., guess what ?

My desire to write, to create,  is a protest. My humble protest against the ugly times we live in.

The revenge of the bookworm, the nerd, the “over-emotional” me!

And I’m gonna do it! Whether you like it or not.  I’m gonna write. Protest my little heart out.

So ,put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Stand aside …this gal is ready to toi-toi!

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Lat jy gan, Vrou!

lat-jy-gan-fotos-bruid

Facebook sent me a memory recently : a loving message from a friend who has since passed away from cancer.

Wim loved to refer to “impulses” when referring to writing and Life!

So his message from Beyond became my impulse to post this bittersweet sketch I wrote years ago before the “rinderpest” as I jokingly refer to the time in my life when things changed, never to be the same again.

Lat jy gan, vrou – lat jy gan!

Oftewel: ‘n Bruidskar het nie brieke nie.

(‘n Storie vir middeljarige voortelevisiekinders)

Ek en ‘n vriendin sit anderdag vroe more en filosofeer.  Dis iets wat ons al hoe meer doen nou lat ons so raak-raak aan die middeljare.  ( Net raak-raak, gehoor, nog nie behoorlik vat nie!).  Daar kom die gewigtige onderwerp van die huwelik ter sprake.

Ons praat toe ewe oor die gewaarwording wat ons albei gehad het die dag toe ons vir die eerste keer die bruidsgewaad en sluier aangepas het.  Daar staan ‘n mens voor die spieël en ‘n vreemde vrou staar terug.  Jy ken jouself nie – dis “die bruid”, die universele vrou wat so misterieus vir jou loer.  Kom ons wees maar eerlik, sy’t so ‘n effense selftevrede Mona Lisa-glimlaggie om haar bakkies en daar’s drome in haar oë.

Sien, of sy nou wil of nie….. sy’t verwagtinge van die eg.  Sonder twyfel (ja, selfs in die een-en-twintigste eeu.)  Ten spyte van al die artikels wat sy lees en die praatjies wat sy hoor, bly daar maar die ewige hoop op die sprokiesgeluk.  Dit help seker ook nie juis dat sy gewoonlik ietwat verlief is nie, alhoewel synde ‘n voortelevisiekind is ek nou nie heeltemaal seker hoe dié wat so voor die tyd saamwoon se verliefdheidsfaktor staan nie.

Kom ons sê dus, hoe dit ookal sy, daar’s opwinding in die lug!

Nou wonder ek net of dit nie genadiger sal wees om die arme witgewaad sommer by voorbaat ‘n paar dinge mee te deel nie. Soos lat dit my smaak dis eintlik hemel en hel so in een bondel om met ‘n man(s) (mens!?) te leer saam leef.

Die ergste wat ek kan onthou , is die ontnugtering oor die alleenwees – die eensaamheid.  Ek is baie seker toe ek besluit het ek gaan trou, was “om nooit alleen te voel” beslis deel van die pakket.  Foutjie!  ‘n Mens kan toe al die tyd op jou heel alleenste voel so saam met jou geliefde in die huweliksbed of wat praat ek alles?

Ek het seker nie die storie mooi verstaan nie, want ek kan nog onthou lat ek gedink het die raad wat my ma se suster vir my gegee het, is maar raar:

“Dita, daar twee goed wat jy moet onthou.  As jou man sy klere op die vloer lat lê, is enige geld wat jy in sy sakke kry terwyl jy optel, joune.  Noem dit maar ‘n ‘pickup tip’.

Jy moet ok vir jou ‘n tas kry en dit vol ou skoene of ander goeters wat jy nie gebruik nie stop.  Dié skuif jy summier onder die bed in .  Wanneer julle die eerste keer so vassit, lat jy besluit  jy loop, vat jy net die tas en wanneer jy oor ‘n halfuur of so terugkom, sit jy dit net weer terug.  Niks ge-in-en-uitpak nie.”

Ek moet bieg, ek was eers in die war. Gedink my huwelik sal vol gemeensaamheid en ander erg verhewe konsepte wees.  Niks van die ondermaanse geploeter van ander mense se klere optel of agter hulle aan skoonmaak nie. Tot ek die eerste  keer in die middel van die nag wou loop en met ‘n skok besef het waarheen dan nou?  Toe tref dit my!  Die vrou weet waarvan sy praat!

Wat die klere optel betref – dit werk!  Dit laat ‘n mens beter voel. Veral in daai armoedejare en ook besonder goed as hy rook en die geldjies nodig het vir sigarette.

Oor die weglopery het ek later ook maar gespot.  Ek kon die eerste ongeveer nege jaar van my huwelik nie bestuur nie.  Manlief het baie daaroor gegrommel – gesê ek is nie behoorlik uitgereik nie.  Sy dogter sal glo van ‘n sertifikaat vergesel word dat haar blindederm, mangels, verstandtande verwyder is en dat sy in besit is van ‘n geldige rybewys.  Maar ek het die chauvinis in eie munt terugbetaal met my stelling dat ek oortuig is die Here het geweet Hy kan eers vir my ‘n bestuurslisensie lat kry wanneer ek nie meer die hasepad sal kies nie.

Toe ons al ‘n hele paar van daai alte bekende sakke sout verorber het, kon ek wettig my ry kry, maar daar’s ek nie meer lus nie.  Altans nooit op een gegewe oomblik so moedeloos dat ek dit verder as ‘n paar keer om die buurt waag nie.  Verkieslik laat in die nag en met skreeuende bande vir effek. Maar ek sit altyd weer met die probleem van waarheen.

Die weglopery lat my dink aan Billy Graham, die evangelis wat ander aand op die Oprah Winfrey-show dié bekende grappie as die waarheid vertel.  Hy en sy wederhelf is al vyftig jaar getroud.  Iemand vra haar toe of sy al  ooit aan skei gedink het.  Waarop sy antwoord: “Skei, nooit…moord, baie!”. En dis nogal heilige mense,nê!

Wanneer ‘n mens so lank met ‘n ander mens saamleef, word hulle regtig soos in die Bybel staan “een met jou”. Vriende van ons kuier ander dag by ons.  Hulle trek so agt-en-twintig jaar saam in die tuig.  Ek moes net glimlag oor hoe dié tweetjies mekaar ken.  Sy kan met groot akkuraatheid voorspel hoe hy gaan reageer op vrae – wat sy antwoord gaan wees.  Jammer ‘n mens kan nie geld uit hierdie vermoë maak nie, want dit smaak my, dit kom nie van self nie.  Baie klein jakkalsies moet sekerlik vrek voor ‘n mense ‘n ander so goed ken dat jul gedagtes en woorde só een word.

‘n Wonder voorwaar dat ‘n ander mens jou ten spyte van al jou skete, foute en dinge tog leer aanvaar het soos jy is.  En jy vir hom.

Die manne sal sekerlik getuig oor een groot jakkals wat die wingerd verniel.  Wat daai aanvaarproses mar swaar maak.  Luister ‘n mens na my wederhelf van digby die sewe-en-twintig jaar sal hy beweer dat ek tot onlangs toe vir ongeveer tien dae uit elke maand in ‘n monster verander het.  Wanneer die fisiologie pla, waai die hare.  Dis gewoonlik ou koeie wat die res van die maand rustig wei.  Die vog op my brein lat my al  die dinge wat krap, naderhark.  Probeer Meneertjie toe mos ‘n intellektuele gesprek oor die onderwerp voer.  Terwyl ek huil dat die trane spat, troos hy (ek is seker met opregte bedoelings) dat ek kwansuis nie “ toerekeningsvatbaar “is nie.  Dis soos ‘n yslike, rooi lap voor die spreekwoordelike bul en ek dink daai heilige tannie Graham het ‘n punt beet!

Maar wanneer ‘n mens deur die Genade en die huismense se geduld nog ‘n daai-tyd-van-maand oorleef het, bly dit mar salig om agter sy blad in te kruip en lepel te lê.  Dan’s daar ok daai heel oomblikke wanneer Manlief weerloos sy hart oopmaak en praat oor wat in hom aangaan.  Of jy hom skielik uit ‘n ander hoek bekyk en merk dat die hare al hoe dunner word en die kaalkol op sy kop groter.  Dit maak ‘n mens se hart sommer week sodat jy baie dae se afskeep en gebrom verduur.

Nee wat, lyk my dis eintlik ‘n ingewikkelde storie, dié getroud wees.  Dis harde werk en hartseer werk en nimmereindigende werk.  Ma help ok nie juis nie.  Kla ‘n mens by haar oor hy ses bakke gebruik om een gereg te maak (wat jy natuurlik alles moet was); of permanent (of so voel dit) voor die televisie sit en koerant lees, sê sy net met die wysheid van die jare: “Tja, my kindjie, dis wat dit is getroud te wees.”

Nietemin .  Ek het altyd gedink, die tannies huil by die troues oor die mooigeid van die bruid, die blommemeisies en die dinge.  Nou vermoed ek dis van mooigeid en seergeid en sommer ‘n klomp ander geidte of is dit dalkies guite?

Dis seker nou dié….

Ek en twee vriende (ok middeljarig en toevallig mans) drentel onder akkerbome deur en verbeel ons ons is weer studente.  Die een is al een-en-dertig jaar getroud en die ander nog vry en vlug van voet.  Dié twee steek in hul spore vas en staan my met pure verstomming en aangaap.

Want sien, daar ry ‘n bruidskar verby.  Voor ek ‘n hek voor my bek kan kry, merk ek droog op :’Ai, vrou, weet jy wat jy doen?’

Die twee here se verslae aangesigte, laat my toe maar byvoeg : “Lat jy gan, vrou – lat jy gan!”.

 

 

 

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Mandoza Moment

mandoza

I was sad when I heard about kwaito star, Mandoza’s death this week.  My thoughts have drifted back constantly for the last few days to the day I met him. The Muse has hauled me out of bed to try and capture my recollections as fuzzy and elusive as they are.

It was a brief meeting – as I remember it- a hot summer’s day in Soweto.

I was volunteering for the Reach for a Dream Foundation that works with children who have life-threatening illnesses. The idea is that there is a lot of power in dreams so the Foundations tries to make these brave ones’ dreams come true to help them to fight their illness and bring them joy.

Many of the details are gone, dissolved in the mists of time, and yet they hover in multi-coloured snippets and sound bites in my mind.

Gomolemo was about eight or nine if my memory serves me correctly.

His dream was to have a birthday party. He had never had one before.

Everyone associated with Children’s’ Oncology Ward at Baragwanath Hospital got swept up in the excitement of the planned b’day celebration. Patients and staff alike offered suggestions to make the day memorable and I remember us all trying to keep the focus on the guest of honour : young Gomolemo.

I can’t remember whether Gomolemo specifically requested his presence or whether the other young people decided it was a good idea.  All I know is, Mandoza was invited.

He was late in arriving – that much I do know.  He made an entrance.  Like a star! With razzmatazz, sun glasses, an impressive entourage and lots of gifts.  A huge stuffed cat – either a tiger or a leopard  was one of the offerings (one I found a bit strange!) and bright takkies with colourful trimmings.

As I write this, my soul is filled again with the sound of his music- a pulsating back-track to the festivities. Excited children running around and all the feasting and fun complete with balloons and colour. I sense lots of blue balloons, green grass and the austere concrete patches at the back of the ward as I try to recall it all.

As a regular visitor I was so used to the children, their stories and their amazing spirits that I was quite taken aback when Mandoza suddenly left and was found a little while later crying in the car.  He was overwhelmed with sadness and had to be coaxed out.

I remember this so clearly because one of the administrators, Aida, teased me and asked what I had done to the star to make him cry?  It became an anecdote I have loved to tell: the day I made Mandoza cry.

And now, some eleven years later, social media brings me the news of his death at the age of 38.  I am amazed and bewildered because I can’t believe how young he must have been at Gomolemo’s party.  He seemed so big, so powerful like his music (and yet, so vulnerable too). That’s celebrity for you right there, I suppose!

My heart goes out to his loved ones and I am so glad to read that people consider him and his music to have been a uniting force in our beloved country.

Most of all I hope that there were people and moments – small personal dreams – that helped him in his battle against cancer and that Gomolemo was glad to see him when he arrived Home.

 

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Behind the scenes

the-world-is-your-oyster

A couple of weeks ago I went to Cape Town with my daughter to the Artscape Theatre.

Backstage nogal.

She has been working at a High School for the last couple of years teaching drama and producing plays for competitions. I have followed her efforts from afar and went to see each of the productions at least once.

This year I went twice and the second time I really got to see her in action.

We travelled to the school in my little red Jimney and even stopped at a popular fast food joint which will remain unnamed!  I only mention this because I realized afterwards that it was an adult version of a ritual she and I shared when we still lived in Johannesburg.  We would sneak away, buy take-aways and sit at the Emmerentia Dam in the car scoffing the guilty treat – just the two of us.

I was amazed when the bus that was to take Marguerite and her cast to the theatre arrived and children appeared from nowhere (well actually from inside the school!). They proceeded to pack the trailer with all their props.  She stood and watched. I was gobsmacked. It was like magic. No cajoling or irritation – just one, two , three and the trailer was packed and the children filed into the bus.

Same thing when we got to the theatre- they unpacked without being told. Everyone seemed to know exactly what to do.  Marguerite put down a bag and a few of the young people proceeded to touch up the props with spray paint. Let me just interrupt myself here to say I happened to witness the creation of said props. As I did the previous year.  In fact, it has become something of tradition for me to help with the costumes and props – even if it is just to provide the space for the operation! Or give moral support in times of stress.

Our shed here at Witvoets Kloof became a factory for the production of little green men one year–well toy soldiers actually. Very effective they turned out to be.

Every year we trawl the Hospice Shops in our various towns in search of just the right outfit for each child. She carries a book with her with their measurements and shows me pictures that they send her by WhatsApp of the clothes and shoes they have found for their role. Her standard reply: “Lovely , bring them all and we will choose together “ or something to that effect. She seems to know exactly what we are looking for. She has picture of what each character must look like.

At the theatre we have two proper dressing rooms complete with a security system with a code that has to be punched in and remembered! Check the age gap – they all (Marguerite included) whip out their phones and tap the numbers in whilst I laboriously scratch around in my handbag in search of a pen and paper.

Inside there are mirrors with lights, lockers and a rail to hang costumes on , even a shower– the whole toot.

At a certain time we need to be at the back entrance to the stage ready for our “technical run –through”.  Here I giggle because my daughter utters the following in a no nonsense voice :

“ Julle is 14h45 hier. En ek praat nie van ‘Ek haat vir Juffrou tyd nie’ – 14h45!! Het julle dit?”

That little inter-change gives me a glimpse of what has gone before, I suppose, but all I see now is absolute confidence, grace and focus.

The run- through is another eye-opener.  They all know exactly what to do and when to do it. The cues flow and the young people responsible for the lights and sound manage to sort it all out in the small slot of time allotted to them. Never having been there before!

Just before I leave them to become a member of the audience, they do their warm-up exercises and again I cannot believe how professional, and dare I say, strict and purposeful my daughter appears to be.  She lovingly calls her cast : “ my kiddies” or ”the kiddies”, but now she treats them like actors- professional performers and it shows in the end result.  I am humbled and amazed , thinking back to my days of teaching.  My beautiful child seems to exude an authority and natural discipline I struggled to elicit at the best of times.

As they all obediently practice their sounds I am reminded of the film “As it is in Heaven” and the workshops Marguerite’s father used to run.  It feels to me, for a brief brief moment, that he is there, in the dressing room with us. As proud of her as I am!

When the time comes, I watch all the performances – theirs and two other school’s efforts. I experience the joy and disappointment of awards received or missed.

My mother heart is thrilled when she receives recognition for the text which she wrote with the children’s input. I am thrilled when one of the judges remark on their level of discipline and the obvious hard work that has gone into producing the play. This he deduced from their ability to do scene changes perfectly in the dark!

Afterwards I think of so many things: little things that touch my soul and bring me back to this experience for days until now. These things that call me to write.

I think of the references she builds into her texts that honour moments in her life: her darling father’s early death and my affectionate nickname for her (“Droomkind”). I realize with awe that whilst she will always be my child, my daughter , born of my womb, the child I dreamed of and longed for, she is truly an adult.  An admirable human being who gives of herself so fully that I can only stand in awe of it all.

I love that she is teaching her pupils to trawl the Hospice Shops in search of costumes and clothes, that she builds a tiny piece of herself , of us, into her plays , her life.

I am grateful that I have seen her like this: purposeful, powerful and loving…oh so loving.  Filled with her ancestors’  love of the youth and teaching, but so much more too.

A beautiful Being inside and out.

A woman born on Woman’s Day!

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