Monthly Archives: November 2011

De naakte waarheid

“En nu zal ik je eens iets heel ingewikkelds uitleggen.” 
Sprak ik tot mezelf. 
Zo kende ik mezelf helemaaaal nog niet. Maar ik zit blijkbaar vol verrassingen.
Mijn ene helft zette zich direct vol overtuiging op de plastic bureaustoel achter de computer. Was die helft even benieuwd naar wat komen ging. Mijn andere helft daarentegen, ging heus wel zitten, maar checkte liever even Gmail, Facebook en Twitter. Als ik dan toch achter de computer zit, kan ik net zo goed even alles tegelijk doen, moet die helft hebben gedacht.

Mijn andere helft leidt een nogal dwingend afleidend bestaan. En zo trok op Twitter een hele sliert berichten aan mij voorbij. Mijn ogen bleven hangen bij tweets waarin iets werd gevonden van een overlijdensadvertentie. Volgens twitterend NL (en ok, België) liet de overleden Mariëtte zich – postuum – van een heel andere kant zien. In de advertentie stond zoiets van: Er zal geen koffietafel zijn, want degenen die koffie wensten, hebben daar volgens Mariëtte tijd genoeg voor gehad. Heel cool vond iedereen dat van Mariëtte.

Terwijl Mariëtte misschien gewoon een takkewijf was. Dat niemand überhaupt koffie met haar wilde drinken, ook al omdat ze nooit eens zelf iets organiseerde.
In plaats van cool vond ik Mariëtte een beetje zielig. Omdat ze nooit open was geweest en ze tot aan haar dood last had van al die opgekropte verlangens omdat eerlijk zijn zo moeilijk bleek.

Daarna keek mijn andere helft de herhaling van DWDD en daar zat Vrouwtje Theelepel. Die had ik nog nooit in het echt gezien. Maar blijkbaar presenteert ze tegenwoordig en altijd al (maar nooit eerder in deze uitvoering) tussen kunst & kitsch en zat ze bij DWDD ondeugend te wezen. Dat laatste was alleen zo volgens Matthijs van Nieuwkerk.

Matt Hijs bedoel ik natuurlijk, maar alleen Jan Mulder kan zijn naam goed uitspreken. En toen dichtte Nico Dijkshoorn iets over Rien Poortvlietjes met naakt en konijnen en daardoor kreeg ik dus het beeld van een bloot Vrouwtje Theelepel niet van mijn netvlies, terwijl, dat staat dus echt MIJLENver van elkaar af. En bovendien, gadverdamme. Nog los van dat de kaboutertjes het sowieso niet doen.

Mijn ene helft zei: “En nu is het wel een keertje genoeg met dat gelanterfant, ik moest je nog wat uitleggen.” Dus ik sprong in de houding, gevoelsmatig althans, want ik zat nog steeds op die plastic stoel.
Het ging over de Zuid-Afrikaanse Protection of State Information Bill. Deze bill (wetsvoorstel) perkt de vrijheid van meningsuiting in. Steeds meer informatie wordt ontoegankelijk voor het publiek en in weerwil daarvan toch publiceren, wordt flink gesanctioneerd. Zuid-Afrika is natuurlijk een walhalla voor corrupte praktijken etc. en de vraag is hoe dit soort misstanden nog worden blootgelegd als deze bill straks een wet is. Want daar werd door de National Assembly (volksvertegenwoordiging) over gestemd op de dag die de boeken ingaat als Black Tuesday. Zie bijv. http://bit.ly/tb9Zcf
Hij werd aangenomen en dus is de kans dat de bill een wet wordt aanzienlijk.

Dus ik dacht, Yah! voor mijn ene helft die me zo betrokken houdt bij het fijne overzichtelijke, kneuterige Nederland. Hoera voor niks aan de hand, eerlijkheid, transparantie, Mariëtte op twitter en Vrouwtje Theelepel prime time.

Lost in translation

“Did you experience a lengthening of your upper body after your pregnancies?”

I have a glass of wine in my one hand and a plate of curry in the other. These are not exactly the right ingredients for a good conversation about the physical decline that comes with age. But my über-slim South African, prospective new friend, asks me very seriously. Honestly, I also do really think my body suffered from my pregnancies, but that elongation aspect of it is something I hadn’t yet worried about.

In order to say that, or even improve on that, I tentatively ask: “What are you whining about, your body isn’t that bad yet, but you may need to look at those wrinkles!”

After that we would look at each other, laugh out loud, delve into a kind of philosophical discussion about global issues, thereafter dance in the middle of the room because what the heck, life is short and we may become friends for life.

But anyway…

My thoughts turn to the bakery where I worked when I was 15. During Christmas time, there was always a huge marzipan pig. The customer selected the size of his slice, and if he correctly guessed the size (plus or minus 10 g) he got it for free. No-one ever accurately guessed. I accidentally did cut off slices that were too thick. Which made the customer to pay a lot of money. Sometimes they gave me a somewhat desperate look. Then I gave them my 15 year old somewhat silly and convincing smile. Showing that I was very sorry that they had to pay a lot, but that they had chosen the size of their peace themselves.

And that’s what pops up in my mind right now. A slice of marzipan pig.

The South African lady started chatting about chemical supplementation that I would definitely need to swallow to slow the aging process. I would like to say something funny about the marzipan pig to put things into perspective. But why on earth can’t I find the right words in English when I need them most.

I can only think of, ‘mashed white bean biscuits’, which brings me back to the cafeteria at the school, where they filled cakes with those mashed beans. (And there I ate about a million pink cakes.)

However, the moment when it was a joke already passed.

Perhaps, even better, is that my English vocabulary let’s me down once in a while. Since the combination of ‘looks’ and pigs is obviously quite a sensitive one, it definitely restricts ones choice of friends. 

Of je worst lust

Lucie en ik doen samen boodschappen. We kopen strooigoed.

“Geeft niks mam, dat ze geen pepernoten hebben, Sinterklaas kan hier genoeg ander snoep kopen.” Aldus Boris.

Ik doe goed mijn best, want Sinterklaas heeft vanochtend bij gebrek aan voorraad een circuspaard met een circusdame gehuld in een rose jurk in Boris’ schoen gestopt. Hetgeen resulteerde in een bijzonder verdrietige Boris omdat Sinterklaas denkt dat hij een meisje is.

Als we de supermarkt gedaan hebben, racen we met winkelwagentje nog even door Mozzies, de slager van Durban. Ik gris snel wat voorverpakte dingen, want we hebben haast, en we lopen naar de kassa.

Achter ons staat een beetje een slonzige, stevige dame met twee zakjes in haar hand.

“Ze hebben kleine worstjes”, zegt de stevige dame met een doorrookte stem.

Ik zit op zich niet zo te wachten op een gesprek over worst, maar ik kijk de mevrouw per ongeluk al aan.

“Zo zo.” Zeg ik bij gebrek aan meer kennis over kleine worstjes en om het gesprekje zsm te beëindigen.

“Ja, mijn dochter vindt ze heel lekker, misschien vindt zij ze ook lekker?” En de stevige dame wijst met een stevige vinger eerst naar ergens achterin de winkel, dan naar mijn dochter en vervolgens begint ze te frummelen aan het plakbandje waarmee het zakje dichtgeplakt zit.

Ik voorvoel een loopje naar ergens achterin de winkel om een zakje te halen met kleine worstjes die de dochter van de stevige mevrouw zo lekker vindt. Dan ben ik er maar van af hè.

Ik bedenk me dat haar man de worstjes vast ook wel lekker vindt. Ik zie al voor me hoe ze aan een tafel zitten met de worstjes in een schaaltje in het midden. Op een Perzisch tapijtje. En dat ze dan tegen elkaar zeggen dat ze er heel veel hebben en dat dan het zakje ineens leeg is en dat ze dan zeggen:

“Nou het lijkt wel of ze steeds minder worstjes in die zakjes stoppen.”

En dat zich dat dan elke week herhaalt tot de dochter als ze 16 is, nee 15 (15 is het nieuwe 16 heb ik laatst gehoord) ineens zegt: “En flikker nou maar eens op met die worstjes, ik ga naar de disco en ik vond ze bovendien altijd al goor!”

Hele sprookje in duigen.

Eigenlijk wil ik helemaal geen worst kopen en ik heb dus haast.

“Misschien wil ze er één?” Gromt de stevige mevrouw en ze zwaait een worstje voor Lucie’s neus heen en weer. Lucie kruipt bijna in mij.

“Nou, ik geloof het niet.” En ik kijk verontschuldigend naar de stevige mevrouw en vervolgens naar de jongen achter de kassa die zijn met goud omhulde voortand vriendelijk bloot lacht.

De stevige mevrouw twijfelt even wat ze nou met het worstje moet. Ze stopt het zo’n beetje half terug in het zakje, maar dat is slechts een schijnbeweging. Wij zijn natuurlijk gewoon het alibi voor haar eigen kleine worstverslaving en ze stopt het dan ook zichtbaar opgelucht in haar eigen mond.

Anyway, Sinterklaas. De oude Sinterklaas riep steeds de tune van Medisch Centrum West bij me op. De nieuwe doet me steeds denken aan ma Flodder. 

Bleu

I carefully ease myself into the car in the parking lot at school. I parked my car near the playground which borders on Lucie’s class and I don’t want her to see me, because then she might cry as school is not yet over.

So I sink into my seat, partly crawling under the steering wheel, to increase my invisibility.

Then I realize that she might recognize the car. I’d better reverse as quickly as possible and then ‘swish’ away.

So, I start, throttle, think ‘swish’, hear ‘boom’ and don’t move.

I kind of pull myself erect from my slumped position and say aloud and with amazement (the latter only to give myself the benefit of the doubt I guess, since nobody ever complimented me for my excellent driving capabilities):

“What have I done now!?”

And it is this. I have rammed the cricket coache’s tiny Opel.

Perhaps it’s not so bad, I think to myself. But that is rather disappointing. There is a buttock shaped dent in the hood. It looks like I have been sitting on it. Which is of course not the case. Fortunately, because then I would probably have hit my own legs and that would have really added fuel to the fire. How on earth do you explain either eventuality to the police and arrange that the car will be repaired? Pretty hard indeed. For a moment I feel relieved that I’m unharmed, but then the problems start anyway.

I need a quote from two different dealers for insurance purposes.

The man from the Toyota dealer has a large, bluish nose. This of course is not relevant, he is probably very kind and good at his job, but it is distracting. And I have to concentrate, because I have difficulty focusing when the topic ‘car’ is under discussion.

“What can I do for you?” he asks.

I say, “Well, I hit another car.”

Then, by chatting: “Yes, I have the car only for transport reasons, because you can not do without it in this country, especially if you have children. And I’ve got it to bash other cars, so it seems.”

No-one is really interested in this additional information, but apparently the subject of a car, brings out the Smurfette in me. And not even a modern one, with a feminist bob-cut, leather pants and painted fingernails, who knows it all and with some aplomb answers the gentlemen on a variety of topics with an occasional oblique joke in between.

(This is perhaps a blessing in disguise however on the other hand, because we have already got more feminists than we ever needed and if we run out of real smurffettes, you might say the job is done).

After walking around my car and writing down a lot of numbers, I’m given the quote for the bumper. The thing missing is a quote for the labor to be done.

“Do you think I will smurf the bumper to the car myself?” I ask.

“Oh, you want someone else to smurf it to your car?” he asks.

So I say, “Yeah, sure! What did you smurf yourself?”

The bluisch nose gives me two addresses where they can fit my bumper. I say sincerely: “Well smurf you soon!” and I manage to go to the other addresses quite quickly. Thereafter I haste myself back into the normal world. Of which I understand nothing at all either, most of the time.

Bleu

Op de parkeerplaats van school wurm ik me behoedzaam in de auto. Ik sta vlakbij het schoolplein van Lucie geparkeerd en ik wil niet dat ze me ziet, want dan gaat ze wellicht huilen en school is nog lang niet afgelopen. Dus ik zak weg in mijn stoel en kruip half onder het stuur ter verhoging van mijn onzichtbaarheid.

Dan bedenk ik me dat ze de auto misschien herkent. Ik kan het beste zo snel mogelijk achteruit rijden en dan ‘zoef’ weg.

Dus, ik start, geef gas, denk ‘zoef’, hoor ‘boem’ en sta stil.



Ik veer op vanuit mijn ondergeschoven positie en zeg hardop en verbaasd (dat laatste alleen om mezelf het voordeel van de twijfel te geven ofzo want ik heb niet bepaald een schadevrije reputatie):

“Wat heb ik nu weer gedaan!”


En het is dit. Ik heb het Opeltje van de cricketjuf geramd.

Misschien valt het wel mee, denk ik nog. Maar dat valt nogal tegen. Er zitten een soort billen in de motorkap. Het is net alsof ik erop heb gezeten. Wat natuurlijk niet zo is. Gelukkig maar, want dan was ik waarschijnlijk ook tegen mijn eigen benen aan gereden en dan hadden we helemaal de poppen aan het dansen gehad. Want hoe regel je dan nog de aangifte bij de politie en de reparatie van de auto? Knap lastig inderdaad. Heel even ben ik opgelucht. Maar ja, dan begint toch de rompslomp.

Voor de verzekering heb ik een quote nodig van twee verschillende reparateurs.

De meneer van de Toyota dealer heeft een grote, blauwige neus. Dat is verder natuurlijk niet relevant, hij is vast heel aardig en goed in zijn vak, maar het leidt wel af. En ik moet me concentreren, want het onderwerp ‘auto’ boeit me toch al niet zo heul erg.

“Wat kan ik voor je doen?” Vraagt hij.

En ik zeg: “Nou, ik heb dus een andere auto geraakt.”

Om vervolgens door te ratelen: “Ja, ik heb de auto alleen als vervoermiddel, want je kunt niet zonder in dit land en helemaal niet als je kinderen hebt.  En ik heb ‘m om mee te botsen. Blijkbaar.”

Er zit echt helemaal niemand op deze informatie te wachten, maar blijkbaar brengt het onderwerp auto, smurfin in mij naar boven. En niet eens een hedendaagse met een feministische bob, leren broek en gelakte nagels, die vervolgens met verstand van zaken en hier en daar een schuine grap, de meneren snedig van repliek dient. 

(Misschien toch een geluk bij een ongeluk aan de andere kant, want we hebben wel genoeg feministen en als er geen echte smurfinnen meer zouden zijn, dan is de klus wel geklaard zou je zeggen).

Na het lopen rond mijn auto en noteren van heel veel nummers, krijg ik de quote voor de bumper. Zonder opgave van arbeidsloon.

“Denk je dat ik ze er zelf op ga smurfen?” Vraag ik.

“Oh, je wilt dat iemand anders ze erop smurft?” Vraagt hij.

Dus zeg ik, “Ja, hè hè, wat smurf je zelf?”

Ik krijg twee adressen, zeg gemeend: “Nou tot smurfs maar weer!” en handel het hele reparatiezaakje gelijk af. Om vervolgens  als de sodemieter de normale wereld weer binnen te stappen. Waar ik de helft van de tijd overigens ook niks van snap.

Big things

“You can keep on doing this for 20 minutes and we have only done it for 3,5 minutes!” our yoga teacher exclaims cheerfully.

We are busy doing an exercise swinging our arms, while we are doing squats at the same time. It resembles a collective take off. And it’s not only my imagination. I see it proven in the reflection in the mirror next to me.

I don’t make fun of it, and I do not even whisper to my neighbor saying,

“look in the mirror and see how ridiculous we actually look”, because Yoga is a serious activity.

Maybe it’s because of this sombre atmosphere that my friend and I afterwards discuss whether or not we believe in something Bigger than ourselves.

We firstly exchange initial perceptions like: “I can’t believe in something without any scientific basis” and “Religion is the cause of every war.”

We conclude that it would be nice if something bigger than us does exist.

Reincarnation for example.

Then friend B says: “I try at least to live by the 10 commandments. But I never succeed. Well, I do manage not to murder.”

“Yes”, I say.

To continue: “No, I lie (oh no, that’s just great!). I kill at least 28 ants every day and everything else that moves around and is larger than an ant, such as spiders, etc. are DOOMed to die as well.”

“And what if that spider is the reincarnation of your deceased grandmother?” she asks.

It reminds me of the census volunteer. One day he stood at my door, in full regalia, red hat and a clipboard with many forms on it. He didn’t look as if he was very important, rather dull. Like he wanted to say: “Well, I can’t help it, I just have to do this. I actually couldn’t care less how many of you live here.”

While those forms are all about the number of people living in a household. A snapshot is taken of the current situation, to gain insight into the number of people living in South Africa and their gender, age, living conditions, access to facilities etc.

It feels strange to fill out forms regarding your personal circumstances in a country where you will live only temporarily.

You are the passer-by, the one making statements from the sideline as if you know it all:

“No, it’s nothing now, it will take generations before the aftermath of apartheid has died. It will definitely take a while to outgrow this period. Of course, I would like to do something, but that is almost impossible. Why? Well, the insecurity. Yes, it really is a balancing act that this country is performing.”

I tend to fill out the form as quickly as possible. But then I become engrossed in the form because the questions give me an insight into vital issues.

I tick that all three of my kids are alive. That indeed, I’m their mother and their father is their father. No, there are no other children living in with me. Yes, my parents are still alive, and I emulate my mother when I touch wood three times after every answered question, followed by: “Oh, this is really testing the Gods.”

Anyway, reincarnation into a spider.

So I say: “Firstly, I am not a huge fan of any relatives – not being immediate family – living cheek by jowel with you. And secondly, my grandmother always said she wanted to return as a brain surgeon or as an elephant, so I think I would do her a big favor if I’d ended this spider suffering as quickly as possible.


Cosmetic change

At four o’ clock (in the morning), the phone rings. It is not our phone, it is the phone that belongs to one of the maids. She has forgotten to take it with her. The man who employs her on Tuesday and Friday was supposed to come and collect it for her. But he didn’t.
I sigh. Because I knew this would happen. Therefore I wanted to drop the phone off at the other address myself. But I lost the debate with my husband, who gave me concise reason not to.

J: It’s an old retired man who has nothing on his hands all day. He will do it.

Me: It’s a grumpy old conservative man. He will never collect a cellphone that belongs to his maid.

J: He will.

I: He won’t.

J: He will.

I: He won’t.

J: He will.

I: No, he won’t. And than I sigh followed by: Whatever.

I sigh so much here in South Africa, that I sometimes think that this sighing thing replaces normal breathing. And that others notice this.

‘Why are you sighing all the time’, I imagine they are thinking.

But I can’t help it. I suppose it’s ‘the new way of breathing’.

Firstly the trend was ‘the new herring’.

And then suddenly ‘the new 30’ popped up. According to everyone between 39 and 44 years old, 40 IS the new 30. This  is of course one viewpoint. My Dutch spellchecker constantly changes “kutterdekut” (fuckerdefuck) to literatuur (literature) when I type the word in. I find that funny in a way, but I do not think fuckerdefuck IS the latest literary catch-phrase. Even if my spellchecker keeps on telling me that it is the catch-phrase, I see clearly that it isn’t. You can try all sorts of things to change this. You could apply cosmetic changes, shout out – preferably all together – that this is the new reality (really!), but eventually this will only increase our level of irritation, however not the credibility.

And so the only remedy is: sighing acceptance.

Furthermore, I sigh because it’s hot, because the children will insist on fighting till the house seems to small, and I sigh when I stand up. Which in fact has everything to do with the aging proces. Everything is related to everything you know. Soon you start thinking that this is because of mysterious forces.

But that would just be a way to explain it. Hello?! It’s just the pull of gravity. And I realise that I can rid myself of the habit of sighing.

Anyway, I say ‘Whatever’, and I do nothing. Well, I do do one thing and it is: getting angry wit J. Perhaps this is to do with the cellphone issue, perhaps it’s unresolved or ‘in the air’. That you look up at the stars, you see the Southern Cross and you can only think: If you don’t concur with me now, I’ll hit you on your head with that damn cross. But it doesn’t make any sense at all, for it is early in the morning and there’s not a single star up in the sky.

So, I say to the maid:

“You know what happened? Your phone rang at about four o’ clock in the morning.”

You try to be calm and collected. Because honestly, who wants to be woken up by a telephone at any time, let alone by someone else’s phone at four o’clock in the morning?!

“No ma’am, that’s my alarm.”

“That early?”

“Yes, I have to boil water for my bath, prepare lunch bags for the kids, wake the kids up (two of her own, one of her sister’s who passed away a few years ago) and than at five o’clock I leave.”

“Aha”, I sigh. Because the idea alone tires me out.  

It wasn’t me

At the gym’s website, I booked a place on a bike for the next Spinning class. This is in itself an exercise, needing quite a bit of time; time I can really ill-afford. I don’t mind where I “Spin” als long as it isn’t the very front. Where I hail from pre-determining your exact bike before the lesson begins is not required. The outcome of my ignorance, is that I am forever changing bikes because it is not long after I start that I am interrupted by a: “Sorry ma’am, I think I booked this bike?”
You mumble under your breath “Oh yes, of course, I should actually make a reservation next time.”

Thereafter you try to negotiate yourself through the narrow spaces, looking out for the next available bike, greeting your fellow sufferer and try and get going again.

What a hassle.

Never before I had logged on to the gym’s website and I notice a little thumbnail of a lady who, I presume, is the Manager in charge of spinning. More than likely employed to inform us that the gym is not responsible for any mishap and probably you may be at fault. There is a lot to say about South Africans but they are always blameless. If a problem arises it is never their fault, but someone else, something else or an unforeseen circumstance responsible for this misunderstanding.

It sometimes leads to a bizarre situation.

Me: Do you have tomato juice?

Waiter: Uhmmmm, we do have tomato cocktail?

Me: Is that the same as tomato juice?

Waiter: Well, I have seen them drinking it. They put Maggi in, and stir it. (He looks as if tomato juice is the stalest drink ever.)

Me: Who are ‘they’?

Waiter: Customers.

Suppose the drink doesn’t meet my expectations, and I share my point of view with him: “Hey waiter, what kind of oddish tomato juice did you serve me?”

Then he most likely replies: “No no no no, not my fault. THEY liked it, you wanted it. “

In other words: ‘Yo bitch, YOU wanted tomato juice (stale) other people drink it, I have no clue why they drink it, but it is certainly not my fault that YOU don’t like it, because I did not say that it tastes good. Here’s the bill!’

The Spinning manager would probably do the same. When I’d ask her why I failed to be allocated a bike, she would state that it’s caused by my computer / login code / password / the weather / this particular time. It certainly is not her or the Gym’s fault. I take a look at the picture of this lady who I just labeled as typically South African. My age, kind face, hair tied in a neat ponytail, not ugly, not pretty, somewhere in between.

And then I take a good look.

It’s me.

Oh no! In the few seconds that I looked at myself as if I was someone else, I described myself as a typically South African lady with an ordinary appearance. What a nonsense!

I should really ask the people at the Gym to take better pictures from now on.

Daily bread

The only good thing about rain is the fact that it’s wonderful that I don’t have 
a dog. Even though I have no intention of getting a dog in any case.

The same occurs just before Christmas, when I always think 
‘Oh how wonderful it is that I do not work as a gift wrapper at Toys R Us.’ 
Or occasionally, ‘Oh how wonderful it is that I do not decorate pies.’ 
Which I did when I was 15. You slice open a cake, put whipped cream in between, then put the two halves together and then put whipped cream and fruit on top of it. Colleagues of mine at that time would probably stay there until retirement. We talked about that (and life in general). They said, as an example:

“Oh yes! Today we are baking fruit cakes!”

And then I said something like:

“Oh, I think this is the stupidest job I ever had, I do not think I will even make it through the week, will you?”

Your ability to be sensitive is quite underdeveloped when you’re 15.

So, anyway, it rains, in the midst of another holiday. One wonders whether children learn something here in South Africa. Which is actually a fair question when you take into consideration that only 12% of South African children have access to proper education.

That makes us a privileged minority while in this country, but I never consciously applied to become ‘Director of Entertainment’. In fact, I would not even consider it, when certain conditions, required to fulfill the function properly (such as a nice indoor swimming pool or playground) are absent. Or, because those two amenities might cause me to put my nose in the air prudishly, the alternative is a museum with ‘fun experiments for kids’.
Believe it or not, I got the job. To my chagrin and after meeting with the CEO, who has bigger fish to fry, I square my shoulders and start tentatively.

I carefully examine my three-man team. They are all quite small, and I do not think they take to my introductory talk very well: “Folks, we’re stuck with each other, so let’s make something good out of this holiday.” They do not even seem to listen. Every conversation ends in a shouting match and they do everything at hyperspeed. They constantly ask: “What do we do next?” They never say ‘please’, self-reflection is absent and their concentration is inadequate at every level. They fly into each other and irritation becomes the latest pastime. It’s not easy to manage, before you know it, you start to scream! Very soon I’m sick of it all.

So what do I do? I first split a wooden spoon in half on the sink and then I call the CEO, stating that I’m taking early retirement starting now.

During this outburst of rage, the maid walks in (it is indeed only 8.00 am).

Oh that’s right! We also have the domestic staff!

“Hello, how are you?!” I roar. You don’t step out of your role immediately

And she says: “Not so good.”

Her sister, who has been ill for some time, passed away. She was only 37, has five children, of which the youngest is only three years old. In a split second I see an extension of the team I just set aside. But then she says the children will be cared for between sisters, brothers and the daughter of the maid.

The reality of living in South Africa strikes me forcibly. And besides that, the meaning of “having children” takes on an entirely different meaning.