Friday, July 8, 2011

Ten days before my emigration from South Africa to New Zealand !!

Into the great beyond 
July 2008                                            
Eve Hemming

One goes through peculiar sensations when one’s about to depart. I’ve lived in the Pietermaritzburg area for most of my life. The terrain’s so familiar, yet on departing I’m seeing it through different eyes.When I drive to work, I try to assimilate it in graphic detail. There’s the winding route down from Winterskloof along the Sweetwaters road, where one must be cautious of

 bovines crossing. Each day I see a bedraggled man
 walking up the hill barefoot and I think that before I leave I must give him some shoes. I momentarily lose the thought navigating a different vista. Then there’s the effervescent man donned in his red overcoat.
When he spots my car he does a dance to wend
his way through treacherous traffic to sell me the newspaper. And I think I must give him a shirt. Then I find myself counting how many trees
 are on the verge before Victoria Road

Finally in Retief Street is the laden cabbage truck and a flock of birds is flying overhead. 
Row of cypress trees along the side of a road in autumn Stock Photo - 5091115 Always the same familiar scene.                                         
                                                                                                   Around the next corner                
is my school and I'm immediately thrown into another precious almost last day as school Principal of 'my school' 
of  amazing staff and 
very dear, disadvantaged special needs kiddies. 

Last weekend we had breakfast at a restaurant in the Howick area. My precious four-year-old grandson Dylan, could see Howick Falls from the bathroom window. He delightedly bellowed: “Look, I can see New Zealand” — having seen a calendar with photographs of waterfalls and snowy mountains.
I frantically think 
“I wish it was THAT close! ”  
My precious eldest granddaughter, Toni, aged seven, asked me if she could fly over for a sleep- over once I arrive. When I confessed that it was a tad far for that, she asked if there are any vegetables in New Zealand and if not, could she post me some. Also some chocolate cake from her next birthday. 
"There are days like this when one's heart fragments into a million shards of glass and one has massive wobbles, questioning oneself...
But then the untenable or monstrous occurrences reflected daily in the media jolt one out of one's desire to throw in the towel and .... smack one...squarely... in...the... 
face to remind one why this mad thing happened in the first place."

I’ve come to the realisation what a personal choice it is to go anywhere and that there’ll always be two sides to every story. There are people who are adamant that they will stay in their land come hell or high water. And those who feel dissatisfied with their lot and are envious, wishing that they, too, had a job offer someplace else. There are those who are incensed and disparaging and those who are overwhelmingly supportive. And there are those who are uncomfortable to confront one, conveniently bustling out of sight as though one is highly contagious.                                                                                    Possibly, it is only those with families shredded by vast oceans, who can conceptualise the pain and courage required to head off into the unknown... in the hopes of establishing foundations for future family security in a less vulnerable environment.
A friend commented that I love the paradoxical roller- coaster

ride in Africa ...AND   that
 life in a quieter place
 will be mundane for me.      
That may be so. But that's
the captivation of life. It’s about making
a decision to bravely ride that roller coaster without knowing where it’s headed and what the bumpy road ahead holds. I think that the emotional roller coaster of emigrating and with it the re-identification of the self is as tough as the mayhem roller coaster here. Staying or departing have jagged upsides and downsides. Maybe that is what we need to come to terms with — that there’s no right or wrong choice. It’s in one’s own moment and possibly even in a strange way part of one’s destiny.

Edited version published in The Witness, July 2008.

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