Monday, July 4, 2011

Reminiscing about my life - South Africa to New Zealand

.“Bouncing off Planet Home”
                 Eve Hemming
Graduating from “home” in South Africa to a new home in New Zealand has been described by Eve as an “Epiphany.” And how right she is!           
 No one’s going to leave home in a hurry. It’s where we experience that inner sanctum. (If home’s a good place, as mine was.) I grew up on a Freestate farm, near the Lesotho border, with endless skyscapes, vistas of dolomite koppies and unparalleled  Freestate clouds.

There was stoic, earnest dad donned in khaki and more flamboyant mum. Home was in robust stone under an iron roof, on which rain lyrically pelted down when one was snug in bed at night. And there were laughing siblings and beaming, shimmering teethed nannies who spoke in clucking voices…
Growing up meant suitcases and boarding school, with its complex social conglomeration. But there were always parents to fetch us to take us back home. 
        Adulthood meant responsibility from a carefree childhood, which had embraced us so effortlessly. With it came student years, pushing the limits to discover one’s identity, peer pressure and social constraints. A narrow pathway filled with obstacles that no safe childhood could prepare one for. Then it was marriage, motherhood and a profession.
One looks back at one’s life and it feels as though it can be compressed into a series of fleeting memories; into one page in a book, or a yellowed dog-eared photo album.
 And even though one’s children suddenly emerged into mature adults, as though time escalated past all those years from the wretched pangs of childbirth, through to the dissonance of acne faced youth and then abruptly catapulted into cherishing their own infants, and one’s own skin feels as though it convincingly reveals the secrets of one's age, one feels the same child within; the one that still needs a mother when one has a bad bout of flu.
If I did elongate my life, it would feel rich and intricate, like a multi-hued tapestry with textures and patterns depicting the passions, pains, ecstasies, successeschallenges and disappointments of life.            

And then the Epiphany 
   One never knows when one will have that ‘Aha moment’. One can’t orchestrate it, but I think within our blue print  we  have a conscious or unconscious search for something better or safer; maybe as part of the existential search for the ‘meaning of life’ combined with the primeval instinctual preservation gene, which prevents humanity from becoming extinct.
     My husband and I felt as though we’d ‘just arrived’ in life – as though all our life’s labours were bearing the fruits... and then the epiphany!
   Our epiphany was waking up to the reality that we felt that there would be no safe future for our grandchildren in SA. When one has been exposed to violence and can count people (on both hands), whom one personally knows, who’ve been murdered, high jacked or violated, then one finally hauls one’s head out of the 'denialistic' sledge and awakens to reality. In our eyes, it wasn’t going to get much better. That was the hideous reality that confronted us.

The rest is history! It’s been the long road to our freedom, to peace and sleeping blissfully at night. All the arduous metaphorical boxes ticked and the obstacles crossed.

Auckland’s been home for three years now. Our house is homely with all our obs de art from AfricaWe have a kiwi doggie like ‘hairy McLeary’ that makes us feel more complete. 
We’re blessed to have our daughter and her family two kilometers away. Our two sons and their families have opted to remain on the other side of the ‘grens.’ That’s the hardest, most painful part. We've just get the green light for our residency, and believe that as tough as it is leaving one's life-long roots, that we’ve made the right choice – hopefully as trailblazers, too! That is what our personal sacrifice has been about. ('If the going gets tough, mama and pappa are here !')
We overlook fields where horses graze and enjoy views of lush vegetation, hills and the sea. It could well be the KZN midlands overlooking Midmar dam. 

The honeymoon is over. We’ve had the delights of change, new vistas and adventures. The novelty has worn off. We’re well and truly here.  
          Life ticks by. Friends in our past write less often – (but we pick up where we left off on visits ‘back’)… And wonderful new friends trickle in. We’re consoled that the aspects of Africa which we cherish will always be there; just in another space. But our life feels more privileged and expansive now; as we assimilate bits of both SA and NZ into our hearts. 

Edited version published in The SA Magazine. June/July 2011.

old album pics with the compliments of                           

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