Tag Archives: skool

the present

Cara Meintjes, soos Zapiro, hou partykeer blogvakansie en dan post sy ‘n rerun!

The Present

Silence is not when the sounds of people reside, but when the land around the people is quiet – when trees do not rustle, wind does not blow and no birds sing.

There were no trees here, nor any birds. The wind, though not affected by all that had happened, was also quiet today.

The silence that descended upon the small caravan of military tents gave rise to a collective self-consciousness. Some were talking, chiefly about short-term things like food and the following day’s traveling plans. But their voices did not give the slighest echo as there were no mountains – the emptiness of the plains gulped their words as if they were water, quenching the parched earth.

Some children were playing in the hard sand. Were they battling the eeriness of the morning, or did they not sense it, as did Johnathan?

They sang a song that Johnathan had taught them: “Hey Jude, don’t make it bad, take a sad song and make it better…”

The girls drew a few blocks in the sand. As they sang they jumped from square to square, sometimes with both feet in a square, sometimes balancing only on one leg. They lifted the ragged dresses to their knees as their friends demanded in order to make sure that they did not cheat.

Johnathan watched them from a distance and sipped the soup Miranda and the other women had made for the group. Apparently Miranda had dug up some edible roots. She boiled them in some seawater that they carried in their flasks and then added some precious fresh water. The sea minerals provided some extra supplement as a varying diet was not always possible.

Johnathan remembered when he could say “Pass the salt, please.” Laura at the dinner table. Oh, God… Back then, he thought planning a summer holiday was difficult. Laura had been looking forward to summer. But it became the summer during which the whole world was changed and during which she died.

How could they have been so stupid? he wondered for the millionth time. He had followed this path of thought so many times that he could anticipate the emotions that came with each idea, but he followed the path nonetheless. Amid the children’s 1960’s song, the thoughts – concise but laden with a wandering sense of loss – mingled with fresh nostalgia.

They had been able to ignore the facts because it had not touched their lives until it was too late, he reasoned. The problems – cold wars that were gaining momentum daily, the economic upheavals, the religious battles… nothing had a very direct influence on the US. The price of petrol rose at most, when workers went on strike yet again.

He remembered the suddenness with which the Third World War started. One day he was a citizen who prided himself on his nationality and the principles that his country upheld throughout the world. The following, he was a fugitive, taking the fastest road out of Washington, DC. And not a moment too soon. The bomb blast could be seen in his rearview mirror, or so Laura had told him. She had found the strength to look.

The children had tired of their song now. They gathered around Johnathan, hoping for another story of the olden days. “Don’t you have a different song for us?” One girl asked, one almost old enough to start helping to prepare food and make clothes.

“But I’ve already taught you so many!” he protested laughingly. “If you’re not careful, I’ll exhaust my supply!”

They begged again and he gave in. “All right! All right. But what kind of a song?”

Some of the ladies were looking at him, interested. “What could I teach them?” he asked Miranda. The sun had rendered her hair light and her face dark. “How about a nursery rhyme?” she suggested. “But which one?”

She thought for a moment and then grinned. “I bet they haven’t heard Little Miss Muffet!”

The children burst into chorus instantly, and she laughed at their proud faces. “I don’t know, Nathan. It seems we’ve taught them all the songs there were.”

She was attractive when she laughed; even more when she was thoughtful. She caught his eye and he tried to hold her gaze; tried to find some hint of how her loss might resemble his. She smiled a sheepish smile in an effort to relieve the sudden tension. Attractive.

The words sprang to his mind suddenly.

“Hey, diddle diddle…” he began, then stopped. Would she join in? Her face lit up and she smiled again, this time warmly. “The cat and the fiddle,” she answered.

A warm, dry wind came up and Johnathan forgot how silent it had been. He was singing with Miranda. “The cow jumped over the moon… the little dog laughed with all his heart and the dish ran away with the spoon.”

“What’s a fiddle?”

“Did dishes and spoons have legs back then? Could they run?”

“Wow! Did they put the cow in a spaceship?”

Johnathan and Miranda grinned. She came to sit next to him and together they explained – as the wind began to blow in earnest – that the past might resemble the present more than we imagine.

spoke

“Alles wat ons was, is vanaand weer skielik hier

Verf dit met ‘n kwas of staar dit uit die vuur

maar onthou dit

maar onthou dit:

ons was hier”
Ek het ‘n obsessie met onthou. Ek het ‘n fobie vir vergeet.

In graad 7 het ek begin dagboek hou en my verskriklik bekommer daaroor as ek vir ‘n paar dae of ‘n week nie skryf nie. Dan het ek soms net ten minste die belangrikste aspekte van die dag neergeskryf. Om nou terug te kyk – eintlik oor my latere tienerdagboeke ook – is soms ‘n nodige reminder dat ek maar regtig onvolwasse was in ‘n tyd wat ek my verbeel het ek’s diep… die onderwerpe waar rondom die dagboek maal, is genoeg om dit te bewys!

Maar uit daardie boekies het hierdie Cara ontwikkel. Om bietjie meta te gaan – ek gaan (eintlik hopelik) eendag hierop ook terugkyk en besef ek’s weer myle ouer; ek het myle meer perspektief. Scary. Want hier sit ek en commit… ek blog vir julle, die publiek! Dagboekies kan ek wegsteek; kan ek quaint noem. Blogs are out there. Dis nogal stupid van my. (Maar gelukkig getuig my blog stats dat julle almal tot op hede gelyk by my huis sou kon kom kuier sonder dat die wyn opraak. Sommige van julle soek anyway net fotos van die Notre Dame of lirieke van Karen Zoid of die Melktertkommissie. Verstommend baie van julle wil iets van julle kinders se loopbaan of toekoms uitfigure en beland op een of ander manier by my blog.)

Buiten die dagboeke – oor my “gewone lewe” – het ek begin geestelike dagboekies hou rondom graad 8. Hulle is bietjie meer ontnugterend om op terug te kyk. Die vrese, die gebede, die feesvieringe daarin… veel meer van hierdie dagboekies eggo nog in vandag se gedagtes. En dit waaroor ek nie meer dink nie, het dikwels onbeantwoord maar net gestagneer. Dit is dalk hoekom ek soveel respek het vir Dorette en Nielen en, noudat ek hom beter verstaan, Bernard. Kyk, die Here gee mens vrede oor goed, maar ek dink soms pluk-pluk die Heilige Gees aan jou hart oor goed waaroor jy opgehou worry het. En soms dink ek ek’s ‘n armer mens wanneer ek nie aan daardie pluk-pluk gehoor gee nie. En hierdie vriende van my is ryker. (Hoe het dit gebeur dat hulle almal fotograwe is?)

Terselfdetyd het ek leers begin maak. (Skuus ek kan nie kappies maak op hierdie keyboard nie.) Een leer per jaar sedert 1999. Briewe, konsertprogrammetjies, soms ‘n merkwaardige eksamen-taalvraestel. Sertifikate. Teen matriek het ek twee leers per jaar nodig gehad. Vir 2005 tot 2009 kan ek tot my spyt net leers wys vir 2006 en 2008. En oor die ander jare worry ek… ek gaan alles vergeet!

‘n Bietjie later, seker rondom graad 10, het ook my skool huiswerk dagboeke in annale ontaard: “Musical. Dit was awesome!!! Jaco het kom kyk!” “Fluiteksamen. Te min geoefen… lucky sy’t nie C mineur gevra nie.” “Hokkieoefening in die hitte.” En digitale fotos het ‘n nuwe vorm van onthou bygevoeg sedert 2003.

Iewers in my kas, in aparte boksies, kruip daar liefdesbriewe ook weg. Net die belangrikes. Net die drie wat my ernstig in die oe gekyk het en laat besef het: meisie, jy het ‘n stukkie hart in jou hande. Ek lees hulle amper nooit. Dis net… te ongemaklik. Om die woorde te sien, werp dikwels my netjiese geskiedenis van my lewe omver. Dinge wat ek se groot was, is klein in die briewe. Dinge wat ek se klein was, is groot. My storie klop nie met die bewyse nie. Ek’s toe nie so connected en deursigtig en braaf soos ek dink nie.

Drie! Watter ordentlike meisie het die voorreg en die vermorsing van drie harte om te onthou?

Maar dis fine, want al hierdie onthoue kan jy op die rak bere; in boksies wegsteek; kan jy cite as bronne in jou lewenstorie sonder om hulle noodwendig te diep te inspekteer. Sonder om die troebel te sien; die vlak bakvissiestories; die verlanges na wat nie kon wees nie; die foute; die geleenthede wat verbygegaan het.

Wat ek begin agterkom, is dus dat ek desperaat wil onthou. Maar ek wil kies wanneer ek onthou.

En nou, noudat ek elke aand droom van iemand anders, hoe prop ek die spoke terug in die kas?