“I write of South Africa, where my heart sometimes resides, and my mind often drifts back to, across the distance of lands and oceans. An Africa that always beats with a strong heart of different people, languages and cultures, who irrefutably call this land their home.”
Native to Native:
It was 1979. We sat alone in a camper van, my father and I, with rain streaming down the window panes outside. He was huddled in the corner with a pout like a six year old on his sixty six year old face.
It was summertime in Ireland and we were on holiday, away from South Africa. A holiday we had saved towards and talked about for months on end!
This place and it memories of the past were never far from his mind. We were led to believe this as we grew up; and now my young family and I were here with him, learning all that there was to love about Ireland, his Ireland.
“I want to go home!” he said.
My birthplace and his old home town of Waterford moved about outside in the rain, the street filled with commuters on their way home after a long day. He had no eyes for them, nor cared to look outside.
When you leave a country you know so well, how much of the yearning back to it, is for situations and events which have long changed; a way of life that has moved on decades. Just like Charlie had, and was now disappointed.
And yet we yearn.
“I want to go home! And not come back n’more.” Charlie said again folding his arms. The message was clear. South Africa was now his home.
“Mommy is so happy touring, seeing everyone, all the old faces, she is loving it! Please don’t put a damper on things. Not on her spirits. Only two more weeks, please? Don’t say a word, Daddy.”
Their home in South Africa was situated in Pretoria during 1979. It was a comfortable three bedroom place with a guest wing. The roads were wide, planned and straight. He was thinking, sunshine and Jacaranda trees and long languid days pottering about in his workshop.
It was the place he wanted to be. His memories were there now, they were current; his family was in South Africa where his roots had sunk deep into the often dry parched earth.
South Africa – Where originally he had planned to spend just five years of his working career in, giving Ireland a chance to get back on its feet after the second world war.
Back then South Africa was a name and an alien place where he had taken his young wife and babies to, so that he could support them; a place that he had grown to love which had now become his home from home.
Today having long since left South Africa myself, living in the U.K., there are days when I drift, dream and imagine myself half way around the world.
But do I really want to be back there?
Like Charlie, there is a question to ask; how much of the longing is for timings and events which have long changed; a way of life that has moved on decades since you departed those shores.
And yet we yearn.
Thanks for illustrations go to the artists Tinus de Jongh, and Desmond O’Hagen.
For more Time Travel.
This is my “N” post in support of Jenny’s Alphabe Thursday