Had another burglary last night — and the intruder even came into the kitchen while we were in the house and snatched Una’s wallet. As well as raiding the garage. So we have to replace locks, bank cards and tighten up even more on security. Hungry people in the bitter cold — but also a drug problem in all likelihood, and I hate to feel somebody is watching the house. Two dogs who didn’t stir or even pick up the scent of a stranger.
But this is life in South Africa and the main thing is that nobody was hurt. The police came around, drank coffee and ate rusks, not very helpful. They admired the curtains.
And we are going away on holiday next month which means leaving the house unattended. Neither of us wants to come back to smashed windows and empty rooms. Our neighbours are vigilant but they can’t hear noises from that distance. Although we don’t have much to steal, I don’t want to lose stoves or fridges. Damn, damn, damn. Now I have no money for my art classes and we have to replace stolen property.
But it is a lovely quiet morning with soft rain falling on the garden, much needed. There are baby squirrels darting up and down the road between oak trees. Stalwart Rudi has been around to replace locks and padlocks. Neighbours too, with hugs and sympathy.
Taking a deep breath and carrying on. I don’t have the crippling fears and phobias of my drinking years which would have made a shock like this intolerable. And I have lived through so much worse, thinking of the man who held a gun to my head in downtown Johannesburg. How I froze with terror, thinking ‘This is it’ and preparing myself to die, finding a place within me that was ready to face death. Which may have been a readiness amidst trauma that led me to sober up for good.
I accept what comes my way. I may not like it and I resist the injustice of it but I live in a violent impoverished country and if I am to die I accept that is what will happen. When I was over in Wales, the whining and complaining of those who to my eyes had so much — a subsidised and pampered life with social safety nets and shelter and freedom from crime — depressed me until I realised that they lived passive and demoralised existences of anomie, not knowing neighbours, not feeling needed or useful. Fearing themselves to be parasites on the welfare state, redundant, helpless. And not all the double-glazed windows and motorised wheelchairs and plushy pension schemes can compensate for not belonging, having no community, a lack of hope. Where there is no vision the people perish. Because we all come to nemesis sooner or later, the stone wall, the terminal ward, the necessity of divorce, the hard understanding that the life we save may be our own.