She just said “I’ll pick you up at the airport”. But she’s not here yet. I’m almost twenty nine years old and this is all I have. Two pieces of luggage – that’s it! I packed some of my things into boxes and asked Martin to drop them at my parents’ when next time he will be going home. He didn’t answer. He still has a car and all those gadgets he bought and I have nothing. (Sarcastic smile) SCENE 2: The same woman, wearing a headband, black trousers and a blue company shirt. It is some sort of uniform. The scene is set centre stage. She is in a brightly lit room. There are some cabinets and a double bed.
There is a washbasin with a man’s shaver, aftershave and a plastic cup with two toothbrushes in it. She is sitting on the side of the bed holding a photograph. It has been just over two years since I became an “Islander” and I had to start again. I met Willie a few months after I landed. Tania found me a job where she used to work and he started soon after. Because he was going out with a young girl, we called him a “virginator” (laugh). Tania was still there at the time, doing a few hours a week and knowing that he liked me she told him “You broke Sonia’s heart. She will never forgive you for that”.
She was having a good laugh and I was really annoyed with her but it didn’t take Willie much longer before he asked me out. At the beginning I wasn’t serious about him at all and … It’s already six months since we went to South Africa with him. His Mum and Bernt had been waiting for us at Cape Town airport. I was so stressed; I didn’t dare look at them or wave. I was going to spend the next two weeks with them, but I hadn’t met them before and my worry was they may not like me, or I may not like them. They were standing there with smiles and excitement on their faces.
Tania waved to them. She laughingly said to Nick “Sonia won’t even look their way”. Very funny, I said, “shut up”. We took our luggage and went towards them. “Don’t you dare shake my hand”, said Bernt, “Welcome to South Africa” and they hugged us one by one. After thirty six hours of travel we felt really welcome. And … they were great. Some evenings we stayed home sitting in the bar by the pool and having a barbecue, chatting, laughing and relaxing. We were always with Tania and Nick and they were treated as a part of the family as well, which was great.
A few times we helped Willie’s Mum with her business, packing ice cubes in the garage. We had great fun doing this, as we had doing everything else. But, in spite of everything, we just couldn’t believe the way they live there. In constant fear I would say. Every house has bars at its windows and doors. Africans lock their cars when they drive. They say it is all “the Blacks” fault. That they are primitive, that they kill for fun, that they can’t calculate distances and this is why they get killed on the roads.
Yes, running across motorways may not be the best idea and yes, you hear about violence every day, but all those things? I mean, to me, Tania and Nick it’s their continent for goodness sake. And we really couldn’t believe that they live in “shacks” because – as Willies’ sister said – “they like it”. After a week we almost start to believe it. A few times we saw “them” getting out of taxis in the early evening when they were coming back from work, wearing normal clothes and simply looking like ordinary people, going into their “homes”. We didn’t know what to think. Anyway!
The Cape was absolutely beautiful and we had a fabulous time as never before. When we thought that it couldn’t get any better we went for a Safari. (Smile). It was like a dream. From the early morning when we were getting up for a ride, till the late evening when we were coming back from a night time trip there was someone to look after us. On our first afternoon when we were lying down by the pool Jafta came and said “the beer is chilled enough to be served Sir”. We looked at each other in silence. Every day was like a dream. Jafta was always there and beer was always chilled enough to be served.
Each day the manager of the farm gave us a bottle of Champagne for the evening ride and we drank it somewhere in the bush at sunset. He always asked “is there anything to celebrate? ” But for us being there was good enough. One day Nick said to Tania “Maybe we should get engaged? ” They’d been together for five years and I knew Tania had been dreaming about this. Nick means everything to her. I had lived with them for over a year and I was always touched by their love for each other. But at the time Sonia said “You haven’t got a ring” and Nick said something like he would make her one out of grass.
(Smile) On the last day I looked at Tania and I could see that she wanted to tell me something. So I asked her and she’d say “yes, there is something… “, only a minute later she’d say “No”. I sat with her by the pool and she kept hiding her hand. I asked her “what is it? ” but she seemed to change her mind every second and she said “nothing”. I new it is something important and then she showed me. She was wearing a ring on her finger! I didn’t know what to say, I was speechless and I cried with her. At our last breakfast I officially announced their engagement.
Only then they told us that it had actually happened the evening before yesterday but neither of them knew how to break the news. The day we got back Tania asked Nick to get her a drink and he said “Babe, you even can call me Jafta if you want”. The four of us burst out laughing like children. I thought that one day Willie would had give me a ring, but now… Every morning he would tell me “I love you” just so I would know if “something happened” to him…. (Tears flow down her face). I thought he is ridiculous, but ……… He was killed by a car on his way to work. I have to start once more …