A few things on my mind

Archive for February 2014

wet towel on bed

My family wakes up at 6am, even Pompies who I believe wakes up every morning thinking today is the day that something interesting happens in his life. I wake up half an hour beforehand. I need the time to gather my thoughts. Mostly because my mornings are unbelievably hectic, but most importantly I need to have gathered my thoughts so that I am ready to address the life critical issue/challenge that my husband is going to pose at me as he opens his eyes to greet the day – issues ranging from my plan to curing AIDS, solving the high unemployment rate in South Africa to the not so critical things such as advising NASA on its next launch to the moon. As you can see I need to be prepared. Unlike him, I need time to gather my thoughts and formulate a plan.

Once everyone is up, I then take up my other big tasks for the day, finding limbs, finding ‘Where is Floppy’, saving lives – my son’s normally, who in a swift moment has found ‘Finding Floppy’ and is about to tear the book into pieces – risking his short stupid life. Of course the potential killer is cranky because once again she did not heed the call to go to sleep on time. A lecture that I am once again privileged to hear my husband deliver with the same fervour as yesterday morning, the morning before that, last week, dare I go on.

In between all of this, is my husband showering and my picking up after him. My favourite thing to do though is picking up the soaking wet towels off my bed. Then it’s picking up his clothes from the bathroom floor into the washing basket which is miles away from where he dropped his clothes. It is picking the shower gel, bath soap and shampoo off the floor and putting them back on the gel/soap shampoo holding thing.

We are now late, again so getting everyone in the car, we share a car – is another crazy experience. This means him opening the gate, strapping our daughter in and closing the gate behind me. We are going to be stuck in traffic. My daughter’s school is six minutes away, and in that six minutes, she has asked me twenty fucking times if she is going to be late for school. Which I respond “No baby, your school start 45 minutes from now, you are fine, its daddy and I who are going to be stuck in traffic and possibly be late”

Traffic in Joburg is a nightmare, so you need to be able to catch either the beginning or the tail end of it – minutes matter here, get it wrong and you are screwed. Of course we always get it wrong. This means an hour of us bickering in the car about the best route to take. If you have not noticed I am a creature of habit. I believe that having a routine enables you to plan. Tried and tested methods leave no surprises – a philosophy my husband does not share. Therefore every morning we each try out this philosophy to prove either one wrong.

Then it’s the evenings, supper with its normal threats, the begging and pleading and then shouting to get the two into bed. Followed by the terrorist’s refusal to sleep and the more tired he is, the crazier he get. At 20:30 there is dead silence. My daughter is in bed in a position that would put any contortionist to shame. My husband passed out on the couch – defeated again. My Pompies in my arms – boob in mouth – all is well in his world.

There is a reason I am telling you all of this. Two weeks ago my husband spent 10 days in hospital. And all of the things above, that have been the biggest issues in my life became the small things I missed. Even the biggest event of my life this month, where I came home from hospital exhausted, left the gate unlocked and my car door wide open, resulting in my waking up to find my car emptied out – did not compare to what my life would be like without him in it.

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A day before I went back to work, I went to my friend’s house for lunch to try squeeze out the last bit of our holiday. You know once back at work – there is no more time for leisurely lunches – even on weekends.

So as I am about to leave she says to me in Sesotho “Oh back to work, to go speak English, write in English, hell think in English” While watching TV that night – my welfare channels aka SABC, eTV and Soweto TV – I noticed that all the black people speak English – even on programmes that are predominately targeted at the black population.

 Back at work – I overheard a conversation between two of my colleagues – and the one said “If it is the last thing I do, I will teach you Afrikaans” And then during drinks on Friday – we were sitting 10 of us (9 black and 1 white) and as would be expected, we started speaking in vernacular, to which our white colleague said “Guys I am here” to which we apologised and duly went back to speaking English.

Looking around I thought – I have white friends that I have known for twenty years, some of my closest white colleagues I have known for over 6 years and none of them have ever greeted me in Sesotho. What is this democratic South Africa we make reference to?   

As we are about to celebrate 20 years of our democracy, our freedom and transformation and economic inclusion – hope you can see that I am using all the buzz words – how included and transformed is this country? This transformation and inclusion is legislated – there are policies that we have to implement, quotas that have to be reached. However, unlike learning my language if it’s not legislation – don’t worry about it. No one is doing it just because it is the right thing to do.

Our transformation and inclusion seems to have come with the same conditions as buying an insurance policy. A grudge purchase, but you know you have to have it. And just like an insurance policy, you don’t have to know it well; just enough to make sure what it can get you. You will never bother to get intimate knowledge of its workings, and if it does not work out – take it or go.