Jacques: Whole of the Moon
By Tom Brown
My brother is a lover and a poet, an unashamed dreamer with a brilliant fearless imagination.
I saw the crescent, you saw the whole of the Moon
Jacques was popular in school he was invited to parties and the girls liked him too he had personality and was attractive. We ran away terrified of our father before his tragic death. We fell into bad company bad friends semi-criminal we went really wild.
My brother did two years military service in the mechanized infantry before completing secondary school. He was 18. After training of more than a year, he was a light machine gun operator or “mag-gunner”.
Subsequently they were deployed in South-West Africa, the border, together with the United Nations UNTAG peace keeping force, to ensure a peaceful transition of power and free elections. Both our army and the enemy SWAPO could then co-operate. South-West Africa then became Namibia, named for the desert that occupies most of the land.
Discharged from the defence force Jacques went to East-London (RSA) to learn the trade of masonary he warked for a year but his employers refrained from sending him to trade school and he came back disillusioned. Our family, on the Brown's side mostly still live there.
He was marching up and down the whole night every night on our flat roof with a .38 Special revolver in his hand. Doof doof doof. Doof doof doof. I saw him storming the post man too and hiding behind the corner revolver at the ready. Like in the movies. Scary.
Only later did we find out that in his room which had been the garage, he'd been building a bomb shelter all the time. He obviously was serious about survival. Jacques did have building experience and training. He showed a close friend this guy just seemed very sad about it. We didn't see much of him he seemed to be hiding.
The last evening he broke the loaf bread in pieces he tore apart and broke into little bits looking for something and really really hungry by then. He was really out-of-it he had to go to hospital for a few weeks. Hell it was a business with the police and holding cells etc.
He started attending the local Roman Catholic chapel and took cathicasms to become a believer.
Long after leaving school and military service Jacques studied postal matric and completed the qualification. He did well all the subjects a first class pass, and high school certificate with full university exemption.
The Catholic church partly funded and Father Johnny assisted in his matric studies and he did not put them to shame. He still identifies and considers himself Roman Catholic. So that he had a very good academic matric and could later enroll for postal studies at Unisa, a correspondence university where I also had studied.
There were many more adventures, and many diverse jobs to name a few: locksmith, delivery man, odd bricklaying jobs, re-roofing- foreman, reception at a residential hotel in city center. Long distance large load courier. Asessor for a insurance company.
There were some barman jobs, he worked full-time as barman and partly caretaker at a Pretoria upper class bowls club, for more than five years. These were good days- for me too. This job was a great success until the management was taken over by drunks and hooligans.
More recently there was a terrible incident when he was hospitalised again for mental illness- that is the second admission. His arm was maimed and he lost much of the use of his left hand. It seems to me the that no-one really knows what happened.
Jacques started with creative writing as a hobby in school already and he wrote stories and poetry, in the army too. With time he took it more seriously and read a lot of literature. This was mostly old work- classics. He read and wrote in Afrkaans too.
He has yet to complete his university degree which is at a advanced state. In fact he has an excellent academic record. He does say that he learnt a lot and enjoyed most of the sillabus. Things have changed there I think they would be more tolerant and understanding he really is a strong candidate. Hopefully he's not so rebelious any more and more pragmatic!
Two proud, blacked brothers cry,
Winter-locked side by side,
To this inhospitable hollow year,
Ride through the doors of our unentered house.
Exiled in us we arouse the soft,
Unclenched, armless, silk and rough love that breaks all rocks.
~ ~ ~
Note: My brother was one of the very first writers on Abctales, and was almost from the start, since 2001. We've come a long way. Some related posts:
A few photos,