Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life

(Short Story Compo) – The Confessions of a Domestic Worker

I took part in a short story compo recently held by South Africa Writer’s College. Here is my entry:

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The Confessions of a Domestic Worker

My name is Beauty. (Well, that’s my English name. Apparently my birth name is too difficult for my employer to pronounce.) So I figured if I settled for a simple name, it would make things easier.

Besides, my name is quite fitting. Because, my life is beautiful! And this is my story:

I have two children. Ayanda, my eldest; she is in Grade 10 at Klipspringer high school. She loves dancing! Often, in the evening, I will take a sneak peek into her room and see her practicing some dance moves. (I have to sneak, because she gets all shy in front of me. You know how teenagers are.)

Kagiso started high school this year. He loves soccer. One of my favourite things is to see him and my husband supporting their favourite team: Ajax Cape Town. They sit huddled together on a Saturday afternoon shouting at the TV. (I keep telling them that the players can’t hear them through the TV. That joke never gets old!) They both just “shoo” me off with their cheeky smiles.

Solomon, my husband is a hard worker. I am so proud of him. For the last two years he has won: Best Salesperson of the Year. He works at the local nursery called Green Fingers. He is really knowledgeable with all things gardening and he is super friendly and helpful with every customer he deals with. They even return to the store asking to be served by him.

I have been working for Mr and Mrs Avery for about seven years now. I love their kids too. Megan is in grade 6. She loves to sing. We often sing together after school. Their son, Matthew is in grade 8 too. (Kagiso and he are friends.) Matthew so badly wants to play in the Under 14’s first team with Kagiso. I think that will happen in the near future. I’ll tell you more about that, later…

I’m no ordinary “maid.” Oh wait, sorry: domestic worker (to be politically correct!). Most of us in this industry work from 8am to 3pm. And our job responsibilities include: vacuuming, mopping, doing the washing & ironing, washing the dishes and other general cleaning. And in my case, I work on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

I actually enjoy my job! My responsibilities also include fetching Megan and Matthew from school at 1pm & 2pm respectively. Oh and I work till 4:30pm. But I don’t mind the extra hours. Despite more pay, there is a lot more to my day than many realise…

I am very grateful to Mrs and Mrs Avery. They have been very good to me. They even pay the full school fees for Ayanda. (That really does help out Solomon and me a lot.) So I return the favour to them in other ways…

Okay, okay, I will stop being all mysterious and get to the climax of my story. (On that note: I have learnt, online: ‘how to present a story’… so I am trying it out with this script.)

I honestly, don’t know how all the other domestics work. They really do seem to dawdle! I get to the house around at 07:30, enjoy a cup of coffee. Say a little prayer and then start my day at 8am. I am usually done by 11am. Maybe 11:30 max! So, I know what your next question is: “What am I doing with the rest of my day?”

The Avery’s have internet at home. And I didn’t want to waste that free resource, so I got creative. Ayanda learnt how to connect to the Wi-Fi with a subject she does at school called: CAT (Computers and Technology.) She gave me a quick crash course and now I know how to use it too. In the morning, one of the first things I do is put the SMART TV on. (It really is smart! You can browse the internet through the TV.)

So, I navigate to the TED talks on YouTube and while I am washing dishes and doing the ironing I am learning some new things. Why not? There is a lot of interesting things out there that one can learn. And it’s free!

I’ve learnt how to have better conversations. And that has helped me with Mrs Avery and our own neighbours back home. I have also learnt about the surprising habits of original thinkers. I shared what I learnt there with both Kagiso and Ayanda. (They’re going to do great things one day! I believe it!)

I also heard a stirring talk about how to teach girls bravery, and not perfection. Some of the knowledge there I have shared with both Megan and Ayanda. I would be thrilled to know when Megan one day becomes a teenager she won’t be sucked into all that unnecessary peer pressure that is so rife in the western world. Social media is full of nonsense! And I have seen over the years how it affects all cultures: Black, White and Indian.

I confess, I am sometimes very scared for the future of these four wonderful children I have the privilege of rearing.
There is so much unfair pressure on them. And the busyness of these modern times is swallowing them whole!!

So, I am convinced of my calling. I am passionate about the mandate I have over these four young lives…

Because, both our boys are at the same school, I asked Mrs Avery if Kagiso could come back to the house when I fetch her kids. Thankfully, she obliged. And she doesn’t know, but it has truly done Matthew the world of good. ‘How’, you may wonder?

When, all three (Megan, Matthew and Kagiso) get home, I tell them to put their school bags down and put on some play clothes. Then I take some old wood offcuts from the garage and make soccer posts at the one end of the yard. Megan plays keeper. (She is thrilled to even just be allowed to play with the “big boys.”) Then Kagiso teaches Matthew how to dribble the ball. He teaches him to shoot the ball correctly. Matthew’s ball sense has grown a lot in the last two months. Next week he is going to try out again for the Under 14’s first team. Kagiso now believes he is ready. I agree.

After half an hour of play I insist that they each go take a twenty minute power nap. (The Spanish call it a siesta.)
Then it’s homework time.

But before that we have a critical ritual that all four of us do… The Avery’s have an extensive library with a wide range of books: for kids to teenagers to stories for adults. We each read for half an hour. (At the start of the year, we all made our own bookmarks. We used some cardboard, glue and glitter that I found in the crafts drawer.) I encourage the reading for two reasons: to expand the imagination of us all (sadly, this video game era has destroyed that for many kids.) The second reason is to help with their reading ability. Megan is now second best in her grade for reading.

While the kids are doing their homework I read and learn online about how to write stories. There are lots of free online courses. (I hope to write a book one day. That’s one of my own goals.) If the kids, need help with their homework I gladly assist. I am not stupid! (Contrary, to popular belief…)

When it’s home time, Megan and Matthew always run to give me a tight squeeze. It warm’s my heart.
Mrs Avery has offered to drop Kagiso and me off at the taxi rank. But the walk there is not far. Plus, I enjoy the quality time I have with my son on that walk. He and I try spot and identify various birds. (The bird book at the Avery’s has been helpful.) Our list is on seventeen different species since the start of the year.

To save money, I negotiated with the taxi driver that Kagiso can sit on my lap and I buckle him in with me. It’s quite fun in that taxi. All the passengers and I sing together. (I guess, you could say, it’s in our culture.) Kagiso has such a powerful voice. I think when he’s a bit older; I will encourage him to audition for The Voice.

To save further money and also to prevent my legs from getting old too quickly, I ask the driver to drop us off about a kilometre away from our home. Once, I met a wise old “umlungu” (white person) who told me that walking everyday will keep one healthy! On that last stretch home, I encourage Kagiso’s imagination again and we try seeing interesting shapes and things in the clouds.

6pm is my favourite time of every day. All four of us are together. Solomon, Ayanda, Kagiso and I all congregate in the kitchen and work as a team. Ayanda will peel and slice the potatoes. My husband will prepare the chicken. Kagiso and I prepare the vegetables. (This entails taking them from our vegetable patch, washing them and cutting them up, ready to be cooked.) Then whilst the food is on the go, we wash and dry the dishes and set the table too.

Before we eat and before we say grace, each of us has a turn to say two things we are grateful (or want to celebrate) about that day. I always want my family to be appreciative of the lives we live. There is a lot to be thankful for!

Before, Solomon and I head to bed; we make some tea, stand outside and look up at the stars in silence. Okay, I lied previously – this part of the day is actually my favourite! This handsome and kind man standing next to me. Bliss! I am the luckiest lady alive.

We may fall asleep with a corrugated sheet of iron over our heads, but we are happy. This little place is our safe haven. My children are going to make it big one day! And they will remain a lady and a gentleman and will not backstab anyone in order to be successful. No a chance!

So, this is my world. This is my life. I am proud of it. I’d like to believe I am a positive influence to Ayanda, Matthew, Kagiso and Megan.

By the way, it is no accident that you found this in your post box. And that you are now reading this. I walk past your home every day. Again, I confess that I have sometimes heard the arguing. I have seen how disobedient your kids can be. (One can learn a lot from the after work interaction of your family on your driveway.)

In conclusion, I’d like to end with a question for you:

I have Tuesdays and Thursdays free. Would you like me to work for you? I may do some good with children too.

Yours Sincerely,

Beauty
(My cell is 072 941 8036)

PS. I did switch off Mr Avery’s computer and printer.

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Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life, People

Black and White

Two days ago, here in Despatch, as I was driving our team (Pneumatix students) I noticed a black car-guard helping an elderly white lady cross the street using the pedestrian crossing.

Now it may not seem a big thing to some…

But in South Africa – moments like this need to be celebrated.

The car guard represents our new South Africa (aka rainbow nation)

The elderly white lady no doubt grew up in the apartheid regime.

So that’s why seeing such a gesture is something so heart warming.

Blog done. Over and out.

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life, People

Black and White

This morning on the way to work I noticed a beautiful scene of humanity. Two (white) ladies were sitting in their car that had just broken down. A (black) gentleman had pulled over just in front of them to offer assistance. (Which was simply to push the car away from the busy intersection. Road Assistance were on their way.)

In a town were racism is still rife. This was beautiful to see. A sort of modern (Good Samaritan story).

These stories of black and white need to be mentioned (shared) more. For the continued healing and reconciliation of our country. The journey of recovery is long… but we must take it!

Yes, I should have got out and helped. One of those “in hindsight moments” –> instead I will write about the incident. 😉 next time, I’ll stop. Will you endeavour to do the same thing?

black-and-white-africa-animals-wilderness.jpg

And just something extra.  The funniest thing you will watch here:  In Light of the Election

Posted in Faith & Church

“Jesus is coming to town” ;)

I came across this “advert” recently:

revival-hmmm

The poster / advert disturbed me a bit.

Sometimes Christianity seems like a market place.  And Jesus is the product.

The text on the white background is fine.  We all need some encouragement and impartation (is this a new Christian word? 😉 haha!)

But the text on the grey background, starting with Revival! didn’t really sit well with me.  (But this is just my opinion, my two cents)

  • It seems like a marketing slogan.  it seems like all of the work of Jesus, the “outpouring of the Spirit” rests on these two individuals.
  • And it seems like South Africa needs to wait…Jesus isn’t going to do anything until the event….9 – 11 February is only when the revival starts.
  • And… can one really put a date on Revival?  In the Christian sense of the word?

 

Ironically, this little post, is a form of advertising of this event anyway… ha!

Posted in People

My “political speech”

In the wake of the local elections yesterday I have my two cents to offer. Take it or leave it:

“The two biggest parties are probably the ANC and DA.
And over the last few weeks we’ve all been flooded with sign pollution. All the parties promoting themselves. Offering some alluring promises. Although we’re all skeptical. These signs offering a good changed are strapped to light poles and bridges… I think about such things.

Sometimes these elections and these requests to vote for a certain party is about “the power” and “the position” in parliament.

We as the citizens of the country don’t care for that.
It would be great to know that our leaders are getting their hands dirty. Helping in community initiatives. And not even televising or “showing off” that they’re helping. Can you imagine seeing Zuma and Malema just being selfless and helping others>

Poverty
Broken Homes
Unemployment
Housing
Environment

These are just a few of the many issues we face. But this post is not about that!!!

Regardless of the leaders elected. regardless of the endless and sometime pointless discussions they have. The way the corruption runs through their veins and the way the our taxes are being stolen and used for selfish gains.

We cannot put our HOPE in these fallible people.
WE can’t keep looking up… but rather start from ourselves?

We moan at how corrupt our government is?
How selfish they are?
How self serving?
How they don’t care?

BUT can we not ask and expect the same things of our own lives?

How corrupt are you?
How selfish are you?
How often are you self serving?
How often do you not care about those on your very doorstep?

The change for our country begins with it’s citizens.
Not only the leadership of the country.

Think about this. What’s happening in the 5km (or even 5 miles) radius around you?
Are there hungry people there?
Are there lonely people?
Is there brokenness?
Is there despair?

The action and the need is where you are at.
I respect an organisation like LeadSA.
They’re making a change.
They’re making an impact from where they are.
They’re not waiting on the “government to get right”
We might wait our whole lives!

Local businesses and churches get on board!
Many churches have become irrelevant.
Many business are too inward looking.

Help your communities.
You have the power and resources (finances and skills to care for those around you.
To help alleviate poverty.
To provide more jobs.
To care and help the broken.

We can use the religious institutions. (Because the churches and mosques have been far too quiet.) – What I know of each faith is that their mandate is to look outwards and care.

And businesses – share you resources please…
There is an environment to care for. There are people to love and help.

There is this great African philosophy: Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu

“A person is a person because of people.”

How very true!
The change starts in our own homes.
And in our own communities.

We hope that a good party will take lead. We hope for an honest government. We hope that the corruption will stop. We hope our country will move forward. We hope that God (like He did in the Old Testament) will challenge and sway the minds and hearts of our leaders. After all He is God and can do that. So let’s pray for that.

But more than prayer, let’s be a people of action.
Who just give and damn and start caring for those right near us.
Handing over our own corrupt hearts and selfish ways.

That’s what I have to say. Thanks for reading; if you got this far.”

Posted in Faith & Church, Inspirational & Observations from Life, People

Prayer for election day:

Dear Jesus
Our land is hurting.
It needs a “plaster”
That plaster is You
Jesus our Saviour

We pray for a smooth election day with no violence.
We pray for the right leaders and parties to be elected.

We pray for peace and hope
We pray against unemployment and despair and brokenness

We put our faith in God first and foremost.
Not in a system
Not in a political party
Not in a religion
But in You

God, you changed the minds and hearts of many leaders before.
The scriptures show us that.

Do the same here and now in 2016.
Let our leaders not be swayed and led by corruption, greed, self-gain, power or any other selfish motives.

May they be led by You.
By love
By healing
By the desire to help people

God you are real.
Move among all the people of South Africa.

May we ourselves as individuals
Bring love and positive change and a helping hand to those around us.

We trust You.
In Jesus name we pray
Amen

Posted in Travel & Explore

Clarens – the jewel of the Free State

My “then” fiancé arrived in one of those fancy ‘Fortuners’… on our wedding day.  After a most incredible day of celebration and love with one another and our guests, we packed our things, conversation and desire for adventure in my humble little i10 and my beautiful wife and I headed off to Clarens.

Known as the jewel of the Freestate; and after a week there, we came to understand why:

Our first 2 nights were a few kilometres outside of Clarens at Garden Gate Hotel & Chalets.  Our self- catering chalet was magical.  The view from the veranda was beautiful.

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And of course we were feeling on top of the world (imagine the dragons…):

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The first day, we drove into Clarens to explore and get some food supplies.  As we approached it was as if this “hand” of the Cactus waved a greeting at us:

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We had heard about the famous Jacket Store and decided to see if we would find anything that we fancied.  We did.  These retro winter coats.

This mural is just outside the shop:

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Then my wife and I decided to be like the ‘million’ tourists before us and get a picture in this frame:

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(There is just something about South Africa, right?)

We ambled through the famous Clarens square and found this cute little spot called The Lazy Gecko:

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I love restaurants that have tables right on the sidewalks and people walk by.  (Kind of reminds me of places in Italy that I have visited.)

On our way back to Golden Gate, we found an abandoned house that we wanted explore.  I caught this image of the trees:

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And we drove past the Van Reenen’s family graveyard:

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That evening we were bid ‘good night’ by the orange glow of the setting sun:

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We dined on scrumptious chicken burgers and sipped on a gift of wine.

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(I love how a simple meal like this can be so enjoyable.  Catherine and I are like that.  We’re not “air and graces.” We appreciate the smallest beautiful moments.)

The following day we climbed the Brandwag Buttress that overlooks the Golden Gate Hotel.

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After two nights in the Golden Gate area; we headed into Clarens for the remainder of the week.  Eating pizza in the warm August sun was in order:

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Then we found our next accommodation.  Clarens Retreat:

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There is a lot to do in Clarens.  For those who like the outdoors.  There are hikes around the town on the nearby mountains.  From them you can get a panoramic view of the town.

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For those who are into art & crafts, there are numerous galleries and quirky shops.

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For those who like to dine out.  For dinner, we can recommend Gosto (a Portuguese restaurant) and Clementines.

We were told to have breakfast at The Post House (isn’t that such a cool name?)

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Soaking in the morning sun while eating breakfast.  Bliss!

The Clarens Brewery is a must see; and taste too:

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There are various flavours of ciders and beers.  (One of my favourite moments was sitting under the afternoon sun sipping on beer with my wife and watching the day draw to an end; as the sun hid behind the nearby hill and the remains of the visitors scattered back home.)

For accommodation, we definitely recommend Clarens Retreat, but also Mount Rouge.  We stayed in one of their cosy rooms called The Attic.  Loved it.  The view of the nearby mountain was a great addition.

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If you like coffee; one must visit Highland Coffee:

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Clarens will stay in your heart one you visit there.  We had such a surreal week there and felt like one of the residents by the end of it.  It is definitely a peace of heaven; that place.

I managed to capture these pics too throughout the week:

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And how odd is this sign?

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“Beware of the ducks!” 😉

Thank you Clarens for a wonderful and dreamy time.

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(Our travel companion; Paddington photobombed the photo too.)

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life, People

The 67 minute ‘guilt trap’…

So on the 18th of July is Nelson Mandela day:

Mandela-Day

And sadly the “perfect” Christians come out swinging with statements like:
“We should serve others every day, not just on Mandela Day.”

Why do that?
Why do they throw out statements like that?

The hype around doing 67 minutes… is a great thing!

Because truth is, for the rest of the year “life gets in the way” for some and they simply just don’t do things for others. So if for ONE day… they do 67 minutes… awesome!

Who knows, maybe the hype and helping will be contagious… and they may begin serving on the 19th, 20th.. and so on…

Are you with me?
Stop the guilt trip!

Sometimes people like to be part of something BIGGER “67 minutes on Mandela Day”

We must celebrate that!
And just think. For 67 minutes x (multiply) a whole lot of people doing something… that’s a big impact.

And perhaps as one throws a rock in a pond, the ripples created, go out far…

so maybe Mandela day… has the same effect!

Posted in Travel & Explore

A sunny South African scene

A sunny South African scene
27 January 2015

As I’m driving back home, I am soaking in the surroundings.
I am staring down the road, looking out for any potholes wanting to swallow my car.
I notice in the distance, two cars in the oncoming lane, flash their lights.

A universal, friendly sign to tell us, cops are up ahead.
My speed is in check.
My belt is on. So all good from my side.

The officer waves to slow me down. I pull over.

“Good afternoon” I say.

“Good afternoon, how are you? Yes, it is very hot.” (He noticed I had my shirt off.)

He asked to see my licence. A routine check. And went on to be chatty and say:

The other guy he stopped on the other side of the road, also had his shirt off. It’s indeed a hot day. He then asked me where I was heading.

I replied telling him I was on my way home (Durban) after seeing my fiancé for the weekend.

He smiled and then wished me well.

As I pulled off, I just smiled at a wonderful South African moment. The warmness and kind actions / words of fellow citizens.

#Lifestyle
#Lifemoments
#Everydaywords

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life

Poem 32 – In a couple of hours

In a couple of hours

They’re sleeping in the back
I steer them home
As the soothing music plays
I would drift away too if I had the chance…

But I look around
And watch the scenery around me
Vast. Stunning.
A witness of beauty.

Sometimes the ones that can see
Are the ones that are blind?
Oh how beautiful this land of my birth is
And in a couple of hours, the scenery changes a few times…

The majesty of the mountains
The song of the sunset
The openness of the ocean
The whisper of the wind

We can sit for two hours and watch a film of the world’s wonders
Or we can drive across this country of South Africa
And watch many scenes flash by.
The scatterlings of Africa.

poem 32