Story postcard – I’m only doing this for you (3)

“Right … back to that party. We’d just moved into the district. Bruce and Katania were there. I don’t think Caralee was … or she might’ve been, but only as a baby. Jambee was. That’s how we all know each other. From the farms. Hansie was bigger than me. No surprise there … Did everything better than me. But … but … hold on … ” Tim pauses. Waits for the heckling to fade. “I had a superpower.”


“You’re kidding …”

“Yes. I was at boarding school … already … He wasn’t.”

Laughter and rain gust, and then die away.

“Hansie couldn’t beat that. I was a survivor … at five …”

“Ja,” says Jacobus. “Telling you, he was such a scrawny little kid. None of us could figure out how he survived.” He slaps Tim on the back, and jokes fall around the room, like a pack of cards thrown into the air.

Five? In a boarding school. What kind of boarding school does that? I thought they were supposed to be for the mega rich. All bowties and what not. Maybe not in this place.

The room quietens, and Simi hugs her blanket closer.

 “Learned everything at that school. Taught us how to keep our heads down, eat Zambezi mud, and keep going. Reckon most of you had the same lessons. Just took you a while to catch up!”

The room laughs, and the wind snaps at the edges of the roof. Simi pulls the blanket tighter. Outside there is a cracking sound. It repeats, louder and faster, then suddenly it stops. The rain falls back to footsteps.

“Marybelle,” Simi shouts. “You need some blanket?”

“I’ll borrow some of Fred’s. Keep him warm.”

Simi watches Marybelle organise the rewrap. Two heads emerge, cocooned tight together. Tim carries on.

“We spent the next four years of school holidays on each other’s farms. When I got big enough – seven I suppose – I used to ride my bike to Hansie. Sometimes he’d come my way. But I liked his farm better. It had a dam and we could go fishing. He liked my farm better because it had kopjes and we could go climbing. Then we lost our farm. 2002 was the end of that. For us anyway. War vet time.”

“War vets? Who are they?” Simi asks.

Bernard answers. “Soldiers. Veterans from the war for independence. ‘70’s and ‘80’s.”

“Let’s not go there, hey, Bernard?” Jacobus nods at Bernard. Bernard says nothing.

“Ah …” Simi feels her body clench, indignant, her heart thumping into a revolution on behalf of ancestors she can only imagine.

“It was a mess,” Jacobus says. “Still is a mess.”

“But Jacobus … aren’t you still on your land?” The question is out, before Simi even wants to ask it.

“Ja. Only some of it hey. It was the Brits who really got it.”

“Eg me,” Tim grins, looking around the room, glasses shining in the firelight. “Anyway, this was supposed to be about Hansie. Not Zim.”

“Ja, and plenty of us lot back on the land anyway,” a voice shouts.

There’s more laughter and a scatter of jokes.

Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2023

Space for comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.