I was rooted to the spot…
Now was a time of reflection…
Should I have stayed afterwards and supported his decision, even if it was old fashioned? He hadn’t known how to live alone, be alone. Of course there were the servants, but he probably chased them away with his temper and obscure outlook on life.
It was that quiet on the dusty verandah, and in the growing dusk, I could hear the music playing as it did the last day she was here. The last day I saw her.
She was beautiful! But I was naive … and young too.
Balloons hung from the oak tree, long tables were laid by Thandi on the veranda with sandwiches, snacks, popcorn and drinks; her friends had come to celebrate her 18th birthday with her, nothing more. Daddy would have done anything for her, his golden child who did nothing wrong. Her beauty, perfect marks in college, her baking and her devotion to ‘family’.
It was dusk when it all went wrong, just like now.
Oh yes, I was here today to find him, but realized in that split second as the music stopped in my head; that I was here for her as much as for him. It wasn’t so much a reconcilliation for myself and my lovely Daddy, but a pleading forgiveness for a sister who had been ripped from my heart and life, when I didn’t understand life yet.
I helped curl her hair that day with Thandi, it was long and black; thick, not like mine. Her white dress hung to the floor almost concealing the weight she had put on lately. She had hid that from Daddy as well as herself, in the hopes that it would go away. I understood it all now, like the ostrich with its head in the sand, was our Daphne.
It seemed like she didn’t know the stranger would turn up out of the blue that day, an uninvited guest. Her school friends were dancing on the veranda, sipping coke from bottles through long coloured straws and paid little attention when the panal van drew up in the drive.
I recognised it from town, the man who delivered biltong to the store in our village, where Daphne had a holiday job.
Daphne’s hand flew to her belly; and that is the way I will always remember her, in her white dress.
The last time I saw her.
He stood at the bottom of the steps of the side veranda and addressed Daddy in broken English,
“It is time, she must come with me. You can say no more old man. Daphne come!” Our father stood up, in shock, then anger. As Daphne passed Daddy she reached out, but his stare was ice, his pride took over.
He didn’t even touch her hand.
That night I lay in bed, the popcorn bowl empty beside me, I wondered if he would ever come in from the wicker chair on the veranda where he sat in the dark in a crumpled heap.
Bang! The wind blew the open stable door to again. Here I stood, five years on, surrounded by uncertainty. It was time…