The former art teacher complaining that it takes so long to die. ‘I should have left by now,’ she says, almost wistfully except that her voice catches with fear. Sends a message to me for more beef consomme, more chicken consomme, possibly a spoonful of French onion soup. I doubt she will be able to sip much of it, yet all the same, hope keeps leaping in me with each return of her appetite.
Hot and humid weather persisting. The housemate has dizzy spells. I thought we had to attend an al fresco music concert and picnic tonight (the new moon) in a friend’s farm garden but I had the date wrong. Instead we shall Frontline the dogs and I can make lamb stock that I turn into frozen cubes to be dropped into soups and casseroles a few cubes at a time. The trick with good stock is to get all the fat out, so the stock is light and clean. Needless to say I prefer to do this in winter, but I have some lamb’s bones from the butcher and the sooner processed the better.
At least once a week I have a bad dream or nightmare about the incest. Nothing to be done about that. The cycle of dreams may stop, they may not. I don’t know what I’d do if the bright-eyed girl I was at 22 appeared out of nowhere and asked me when the healing would take place or be completed. I’d have to say ‘Maybe never,’ and that still makes me shiver. On brave mornings I write down the dreams.
A woman called, shall we say Zettie, from a village over the mountains, popped in to chat to me and have some tea. Kuier, as it is known in Afrikaans. She looks after her brother, aged 67, who is dying of alcoholism, needs a certain amount of alcohol each day just to ward off the DTs or worse. Twice each week a group of AA members drives out and sits with him: they wash sheets and help prepare meals to be frozen, sit and chat with her, help repair the gutters and electricals. He may not ever get sober but they certainly have more impetus to stay sober after witnessing his condition. Her children drive seven hours from the Eastern Cape once a month to take care of him so she can get away for a day or two. In his more lucid moments, Zettie’s brother suffers terribly. Nobody is judgmental — it’s understood that he may not be one of the lucky ones who get to stay sober, that he is severely ill and the pancreas compromised. Before Zettie left, I ran to the freezer to get some miracle-working homemade chicken soup and will visit her next month. In any culture, learning to take care of our own is fundamental. And a privilege.
When I try to water my wilting pelargoniums on the verandah, bad-tempered house sparrows dive at me in fury. I have no idea why. It is the wrong time of year for newborn fledglings and they have no external threats I can detect. My favourite pelargonium has a scent like just-grated nutmeg.