Unspoken Words

 

Recently I arrived at my sons’ school to do the usual afternoon lift when he storms through the gate, a white note waving in his hand. “Mom, I’m playing a chess match on Monday! At Fanie Theron Primary school.”

I suck in my breath and with a smile I reply: “Wow, that’s exciting. Granddad used to teach at that school for many years.”

“Really mom, I didn’t know that!” Excitement shines bright through his heaven-blue eyes.

Monday arrives, through a strange turn of events we arrive a few minutes late for the chess match. First we have to drop another friend at home, this is slightly out of our way. Then we get lost and really struggle to find the school - even though as a child I must have gone there with my dad on many occasions. Finally we arrive and as we run toward the entrance to the building my car alarm starts blaring – right next to a netball match. I turn back to the parking lot where the alarm is screaming, echoing the screams of my heart  – I can feel the cold stares of irritated parents burning holes in my back, some of them familiar faces from our own school.

I return to the school building and start to walk slowly down the passage, driven forward by a need inside me so fierce nothing will be able to stop me. I’m on a mission to find my dad.  I know there was a time when my dad walked this same passage, many times, every day. I imagine that sometimes his voice could be heard down the passages as he was explaining geography to his pupils. I imagine that sometimes, when he thought no one was watching, he would walk down this same passage singing – maybe even adding one or two of his spontaneous dance steps before entering his next class.

I don’t know where I will find him today but I know that I have to. I look around me, searching and then I’m looking into the most familiar smile in the world. Dad.

In that moment, all the frustration, sadness, fear, loneliness, longing, tears, horror and love inside me is unleashed. It is real. It is mine. By now I know it well. It’s been there every day for one year, 5 months and 18 days.

As I stand there, staring at a picture of my dad, I lift my hand to touch the face of the man I’ve loved since the moment I entered this life. I stand alone, still choked by grief, caught in a moment that holds a thousand words. A moment where nothing else matters. Dad and me. A need to acknowledge that Dad was here. His footprints forever engraved in the memories caught between the walls of this school, his voice still an echo in the heart of every pupil he taught as it will continue to echo through the journey of my life.

My dad is dead. I am alive.  A thousand unspoken words are held in between.

As die skote om ons klap.

Tygerburger - Letters, Wednesday 27 April 2016

Onlangs verhuis ons na Durbanville. Die nuwe huis is in ‘n pragtige ou gevestigde woonbuurt met groot erwe en hoë bome. Binne die eerste paar dae is ons verlief op die tuin met sy magdom voëls en natuurlik eekhorings. Binne ‘n dag of twee gewaar ek duif vere in die hoender kampie in ons agterplaas. Dit is vreemd dink ek, ons het nie katte nie, wel honde maar hulle het geen toegang tot die hoender kampie. So sien ons elke dag al hoe meer voël vere in ons agterplaas.

Een Sondagoggend staan ek, my man en oudste dogter by die heining van die hoender-kampie toe ons ‘n harde klapgeluid hoor. Steeds onseker van wat dit presies kan wees klap die tweede skoot gevolg deur veer konfettie wat vanuit die lug oor ons waai. Toe die derde skoot deur die lug sing sê ek benoud: Iemand skiet!” Ek sê dadelik vir my dogter om uit die hoek van die erf te beweeg waar sy ondersoek instel na die vere. Ek gryp ‘n ou groen plastiek tuinstoel en bekruip die muur tussen ons en die nuwe bure kompleet soos ‘n rekkie. Versigtig loer ek,neus en oë, oor die muur. Sowaar, daar by een van die agter vensters loer die loop van ‘n windbuks vir my. Ek volg met my oë die lyn van die loop tot by die eienaar  - ‘n jong seun omring deur sy makkers wat aanmoedig terwyl daar vir duiwe en ander voëltjies gejag word. Ek is met afgryse gevul. “Bly tog maar stil”, paai my man van die kantlyn. “Ons wil nie onenigheid met die bure hê nie my vrou.”

So ‘n week of wat later is dit skool vakansie toe die skote weer klap. “Mamma, mamma, hulle skiet die voëls dood.” My kroos se noodkrete, naby aan trane.

Hierdie keer is daar niemand om my te paai nie. Ek gryp weer my groen tuinstoel en die keer staan ek vollengte daarop sodat hulle my goed kan sien. Ek gewaar die jagter waar hy suutjies al langs hul muur stap op soek na sy nuutse prooi, geweer in die hand. Sy makkers loer almal deur die venster.

“Wat maak julle hier?” vra ek. “Skiet julle alweer onskuldige voëltjies?” Met ‘n wip en ‘n skrik draai hy grootoog na my: “Nee tannie, ons gooi net klappers!” Geweer in die hand.

As ons toelaat dat die skote so onverstoord om ons klap wonder ek sommer of die toestand van Moeder Aarde nie ‘n eggo is van al die skietwonde deur ‘n samelewing waar dit aanvaarbaar is vir sommige kinders om onskuldige eekhorings en voëls te jag.

 

-Nadea Victor

Almost too good to te be true.

TRAIL MAGAZINE - April 2016

It is 4am Sunday morning and I'm not feeling my usual 'get up and go' self - we are running the Xterra light trail this morning, I drag myself out of bed with a heavy heart and heavy legs. I've never been so unprepared for a race! And why on earth will anyone drive 70km to go and run 6,5km? It no longer makes sense.

We moved house two weeks ago, I got sick, had to go on antibiotics and stop training. Just as I was ready to start training again, I dropped a mirror on my foot and ended up with a swollen blue claw that I only barely managed to start squeezing back into my running shoes two days before. I ended up having to downgrade from my initial plan to run the longer 12km trail. I'm lucky I didn't break anything - that is my foot or the mirror - I could have ended up with a lot more bad luck than just a shorter trail race.

So it's 4.30, my two friends and I, each armed with a Garmin and a banana, are on our way to Grabouw.

In the car conversation is mostly about our different expectations and the differences between trail running and road running and of course a topic most runners can't ever get enough of - we compare past aches and pains, running injuries and miracle cures.

The Xterra is a beautiful event with the start at the Grabouw Country club. Coffee and rusks are readily available, even Pronutro for the more adventurous pre-race eater.

Soon it is 6.50am  and we are getting ready to start the race. Usually the vibe at trail races are relaxed with runners strolling up chatting and sniffing the fresh mountain air.  My friend comments that she's never managed to find a spot this close to the starting line. As a little bit of pre-race jitters take hold we jokingly mention how we didn't come to win and just hope to finish. We remind my friend that she has to make sure to follow the arrows marked for the short course and not the 12km route. (At a recent night race she ended up doing the wrong race...)

We start the race and as usual the Grabouw mountains are gloriously beautiful.

For the first kilometre or two my one friend and I run together, chatting we even manage to crack a few jokes in between our huffing and puffing. All of a sudden there is a fork in the road clearly marked with arrows and I realize this is where we split from the 12km group. The marshalls standing at the side of the road confirms this and off we go.

At this point I'm a little ahead of my friend, as I come around the next bend I hear one of the marshalls speak into his walky talky: 'Here comes another...' followed by my number. I'm feeling good, I'm not tired, I'm over halfway and there is not a soul around. I'm by myself. Is this possible? Either I'm in the lead or I'm second. I start to race, faster and faster. The only person nearby is my friend, by now about 40seconds behind. I'm not letting him catch me. Type A personalities. Both of us. Our earlier conversation about not coming to win flashes through my mind - bulldust - we both knew we were lying. Why else would we have bothered getting out of bed. My mind starts to race faster than my legs. My husband and children are probably still in bed. They're going to miss my big moment of glory. In the distance, about a minute ahead of me I spot another runner. I can't be sure - male or female. I have no choice, I'm racing with all my heart.

The last kilometre is across a stretch of dry sand. I will not let this slow me down. Once or twice I dare a glimpse over my shoulder. My friend won't catch me. Not today. I don't care if it is only a 6.5km, to me, right now, it might as well be the Comrades marathon. In my mind I compose the message to my husband, children, mom and sisters. I taste the glory of my triumph. I imagine the crowd clapping, tears of joy,  the announcement. It is almost too good to be true.

As I enter the last 100 metres or so I hear people clapping, I even smile and wave - I hear the announcement: "Here comes our second runner."  I speed across the finish. Oh sweet glory!

Then, almost too soft for me to be sure that someone is calling me from behind I hear: "Excuse me, what time did you start the race? You were supposed to start at 7.10am, you actually don't count." Confusion sets in. I'm not sure what is happening. With a nonchalant: "We'll sort it out later." I'm waved off. (I start to wake from my euphoria, clearly it's not the Comrades marathon.)

To the side I see another woman sitting. She looks as lost as me. I recognize the colours she is wearing, the person I spotted in the distance. I'm about to walk over when I hear the commentator make another announcement: "Our first mail runner!" As I turn I see it all happening in slow motion. My friend has entered the last 100m strip,  the red tape ready to be broken by this Xterra warrior.  People are clapping, some confused, others oblivious to what is happening. My friend crosses the finish line - a winner! I start walking towards him - I see the commentator waving him off in the same way he did me, I see confusion starting to cloud his winners' smile. Where are the photographers, the big moment of glory.

It dawns on me. There had to be two separate start times for the two different courses. We started 10 minutes early!

Poof! Just like that our moment of glory turns into a disastrous disappointment!

When the 3rd member of our party sails across the finish line she laughs at our shocked faces while we tell her what happened. "You didn't come to win did you, you came to have fun?" she asks us.

Shocked silence, me and my friend stare at each other, no words needed, a Type B personality will never understand. Why else would we show up.

Ten minutes early or ten minutes late, I can still taste the glory while at the back of my mind the saying: "If it seems too good to be true, it usually is." repeats itself over and over, a mimic of my running shoes continuing to hit the trails - of course to win and to have fun - maybe just to be able to tell the story of the trials, tribulations and mostly, jubilations of the trails.

 

Written by Nadea Victor

Skatkis van Onthou

Heen en weer
Heen en weer
Op en af
Op en af
Boel wat in die stofpad blaf

Op my rug in die trekkerwiel-swaai
Skrefies oë. Die son flits en wind sing
deur die Bloekombome se blare
Vertel onthou stories van baie jare

Boel blaf by die kombuisdeur
Gryp sy sny brood, fris en mooi
 wat ouma getrou oor die agterdeur na hom gooi
In die kombuis wag daar ook iets vir my
varsgebakte blikkie-brood wat
mens net hier op Karpad kry

Heen en weer
Heen en weer
Op en af
Op en af  
Boel wat in die stofpad blaf

Na ete gaan oupa hoenders slag
My plaas-nefies kom help dit is 'n groot dag
'n afkop hoender hardloop soos die wind 
Niemand kan hom vang, nie eens hond se kind

Ons is uit die vere nog voor die haan se eerste kraai.
In die kombuis koffie en beskuit en ouma wat lewer op die aga braai
Ons swem in die stroompie en maak sieringsap
Later gaan ons wol in die skuur trap
Ons wag vir oupa om die vissies te kom voer
Groot oog staan ons om die dammetjie vir mekaar en loer
Hier kom oupa minwetend - o wee
ons het hul reeds bietjie van ons eie kossies gegee

Ons pluk turksvye met ons blikkie stok
Oupa hou ons dop alewig met pet op die kop
Op oupa se plaas is ons veilig en vir niks bang
Oupa is mos hier om goggas en slange te vang

Ons bou huisies en speel buite onder die maan
Binne sit familie, geen tv, almal gesels saam
Ons hou makietie op die stoep as Ouma verjaar
My hart en tone wat vir ewig in Karpad se stofpad baljaar
- Nadea Victor

 

 

As die Posman Rou

As die posman rou. - Wenbrief, Leef tydskrif, April 2015

Daar is 'n klop aan die deur. My man staan op om te gaan kyk wie dit is. Ons kuier vir die middag by my ma en sit almal met 'n beker boere-troos.

"Waar is daai oubaas? Ek sien nie hom in die tuin nie."

"Daai oubaas, hy is dood!" antwoord my man.

"Haikona! Daai kannie wiesie! Stomgeslaan, sweet wat blink oor sy gesig, draai die posman om, klim op sy rooi fiets en ry weg.

Ek en my ma sit met groot oë na mekaar en loer. Wat is daar om te sê. Ook ons is stomgeslaan.

Dit is nou 'n paar weke sedert my pa twee dae na sy sewentigste verjaarsdag oorlede is aan 'n hartaanval in die kerk. Hoe kan dit waar wees. Twee weke voor Kersfees, vyf dae voor ons almal saam sou vertrek vir ons jaarlikse see vakansie in Vleesbaai. Drie dae voor my ma se groot aftrede waarna ons almal so lank al uitsien. Hoe kan dit waar wees.

Die lewe wat ons voorheen geken het is weg. Vir ewig. Ek voel asof iemand 'n uitveer gevat het en dit oor my lewe getrek het en nou is dit alles weg, daar is geen manier om daarheen terug te keer. Ek het al gehoor hoe mense dit beskryf asof in 'n droom. O nee. Vir my is dit alles ewe skielik net te helder.  Soos om in die vol son te staan in 'n woestyn sonder oease en sonder 'n sonbril. My pa is weg, my vriend is weg, my raadgewer is weg, my eerste liefde is weg, my hero is weg, my kinders se oupa is weg, my veilige plekkie is weg, my lekker lag alles is ok pappa is weg.

Om elke oggend wakker te skrik is die ergste - dit is asof jy elke oggend van voor af met 'n skok besef  - my pa is dood. Ek sleep myself uit die bed, die uitveer het voorwaar 'n spierwit lee bladsy agtergelaat. Elke dag is 'n stryd. Ons moet nou 'n nuwe storie skryf. Hoe skryf jy 'n storie so teesinnig.

Soos ek een middag in die verkeer ry besef ek skielik dat ek na die motoriste om my kyk en by elke kar sit en wonder - het hy of het hy nie...skielik is daar twee groepe mense - diè wat 'n pa het en diè wat nie 'n pa het nie. Die wat het kan nie verstaan nie en soms, diep in my binneste is ek kwaad vir hulle. Dit is my geheim.  Selfs sommige wat nie meer het nie, het vergeet en verstaan ook nie regtig meer nie. Ek wil nooit vergeet nie.  

Terwyl ek so sit en wonder oor die twee groepe waarin ek skielik die hele samelewing wil verdeel besef ek ek is steeds deel van diè wat het. Geen mens, geen ding, geen begrafnis, geen afstand sal ooit maak dat ek nie 'n pa het nie. Ek hèt die beste pa in heel die wye wêreld. Die storie wat ek van nou af vorentoe moet skryf is dalk nie hoe ek dit beplan het nie maar die deel wat ek reeds geskryf het is so vol wonderlike wyshede, liefde en herinneringe! Wat 'n ongelooflike reis met 'n pa soos diè  - selfs die posman rou.

Daar is geen uitveer groot genoeg om die storie van my pa uit te vee. Ek het 'n pa, hy woon nie meer op die aarde maar vir ewig in my hart... en so begin my nuwe storie. - Nadea Victor