By Tom Brown
Fri, 04 Apr 2014
Fountains that sway and bend dance and jump gaily to the music in every Christmas colour of light reflected on the water. The air festive and joyful, parents with kids excited running everywhere with shouts and laughter and all living in hope and love. A festive atmosphere, a holiday atmosphere, magic.
It was not that I was alone in a crowd. I was alone with the crowd. I was part of the crowd and the crowd of me. There was no loneliness. Late evenings there were only a few couples left, hand in hand and arm in arm. The joy of life the strength of youth. Of every hue and shade of our young rainbow nation, happy polite respectful friendly, young lovers in love.
Often I went there in the evenings it is very close, over weekends it was busier. On my own I strolled among the people or stood at some shop window and admired the nice things there. I have no income. Then already had they suspended my salary and medical aid and stopped pension fund contributions without bothering even to tell me never mind giving reasons.
There are some coffee shops and different restaurants as well as a kiosk selling cooldrinks and cigarettes, biltong and such. The owner was very friendly. I wasn't able to buy anything at the shops but I enjoyed the window shopping all the same with a soft-serve or coke. The one waiter I'd made friends with so usually I'd go round there. He lived very far from work, in a township. I got along well with the security guys too, I always have.
The jeweller shops I liked a lot but most just had wristwatches, silver gold and diamonds and maybe some pearls it's all really a bit monotonous. There was one jeweller who had more variety. They have other gems too, rubies emeralds amethyst aquamarine sapphire as well as other very valuable things. The one that struck me was a chain with a smallish silver plate and with a cross cut in. Like those old fashioned razor blades. I would have liked it for mine because it would signify that my cross had been taken from me.
My favourite was the bridal boutique this was upmarket stuff. Really classy. The most beautiful was a deep red purple dress it had a vine of black roses embroidered on the front twisting and winding up. With a veil and a bridal train. I often lingered there long, admiring the wedding dresses. There weren't any prices this was clearly very expensive. I saw another similar obviously made by the same designer. That one was a bright bold red.
In winter they had a small ice rink for kids in the amphitheatre. I stood there by the side elbows on the wall gazing over the water at the fountains, there were a few kids skating around I didn't give them much notice. A little girl swiftly came past close, and by me a second time, but when I turned my head back she was right in my face and very serious and earnestly:
"Oom? Het Oom 'n vrou?"
Lag, "Hoekom vra jy?"
"Want dit lӳk so! Hét Oom?"
"Ja, maar ek moet haar nog in die kerk kry!"
"Uncle? Do you have a wife?"
Amused, "But why do you ask?"
"Because it lóóks like it! Uncle dó you?"
"Yes, but I must still take her to church!"
Mirthful laughter! Her father called and off she went skating and disappeared.
The Bible Bookshop
Through the years I'd walked past this church bookshop many times and I'd been very curious always and secretly wondered what is going on inside, but it would really be very embarrassing if someone I knew saw me going into the Bible Bookshop. I haven't been in church for many years let's say more than a decade. Last was when I attended some evening services at the local Methodist church where I'd been confirmed years ago, and even there I didn't feel so welcome. It could be it was that I sneaked out for a smoke break each time the Minister was praying.
Now at last I had my chance and when no-one was around I summoned my courage and I slipped in. At the worst they could ask me politely to leave and not come back.
This was now a completely different world. The youngsters were so kind and helpful there was a wonderful atmosphere it was to me like coming home. In a way it was perhaps like a library or a chapel. There was sanctity. Gospel music was playing softly. It was wonderful. In that shop was really the only place at the time that I felt completely safe. A young girl came and she asked me if she could help she showed me around a bit and I asked about Concordances and the second time I went I bought one, a Strong's Concordance it's massive really it is like an encyclopaedia.
She said she's a student she was helping out there I asked how dit it come about? She was helping out for the holidays she said she was on drugs it was heroin but she gave her heart to Jesus and now she is well.
There was a beautiful book, the Archaeological Bible. It was very expensive. I once asked if I could perhaps look at the book, there there was a coffee table and comfortable chairs. They didn't mind at all. So that became my regular visitors chair the book fascinated me. It was a complete Bible. On the right hand page it gave the passages and the left were photos and maps and text describing the history. What fascinated me most was the story of Jericho and of Solomon's temple. The books of Genesis and Exodus were very interesting. For instance there were excavations at what is believed to be the oldest city in history, and that it could be Ur. Some people thought that the city could have been built by Cain. Of course all this kind of thing was clearly presented as speculation and theories, the historic background from a scientific view is quite sound.
Then I became a regular visitor at the Bible Bookshop and bought some other books too e.g. of CS Lewis. There were booklets too that were quite helpful.
One of the staff there was tall I was once so overwhelmed by his height I declared I don't believe it. I said you are standing on some kind of bench he said no. I walked around the counter to see for myself and indeed he was standing squarely on the same ground I was. I've known a man who was taller. Oom Pottie, who taught me mathematics at the university. But don't say that (he would say "Now you want to give mé the blame").
Over Easter I often sat on the lake wall meditating looking out over the water at the full moon so serene and her reflection so calm. Festive music and distant happy voices, of all colours lights and glinting, reflected by wavelets and ripples just as it was when my father died.
I thought of him finding peace in my heart and my mind. Thought of the last time I touched him, barely just our finger tips. I loved my father. He was a man you could call a man.
The tiny church stands next to a giant chessboard I went there and on my knees I prayed to our heavenly Father. Not long after that I returned, in great calamity, when I had come to my Crossroads.
When we were school boys there were only veld and bushes where the lake is now. Much of my misspent youth was spent there by that rather muddy stream hunting carp with bread crusts (these grow really big) fishing barber too and sometimes small yellow-fish and some others. Coffee was made on a small fire of twigs and branches. That river is crab infested they are thousands. We learnt to cook them in the embers and eat the bit of flesh.
It was very peaceful there these were farms. The owners let us be they didn't mind much. Ant heaps thorn trees cattle grazing and many birds like sparrows and finches. One of my friends caught snakes he kept them in a glass tank at home and fed them mice.
Some of us bunked school there once and burned our textbooks, but we were saved by the rod. Once we were running home in a thunderstorm with rods and fishing bags my friend shouted at me jokingly in the pouring rain "The Bible says the thunder is God speaking" and I shouted back "Well if it's Him I can't hear what He's saying!"
Yes, had I only but listened.
The lake is completely silted up now, it is a man-made lake. Reeds grow all over and weeds and shrubs and it is almost just earth really although we've had a terrific amount of rain this season.
They've tried dredging, and previously had tried pumping out sludge. You don't do it like this you wait for the mud to harden and the earth to dry completely. You do it with force, with bulldozers. One would have to build a proper silt trap upriver otherwise the same thing would happen again.
A model shop I walked by often had the most beautiful toys. The old sailing ships were beautiful and all kinds of model planes some you can actually fly by radio control and model racing cars also, it's a sport they have real races, and with yachts too. And there was a big fire-lorry in the window that was unbelievable I thought yes I want also to build these models. The bit of money I had left I spent there.
I started out with a kit for the French built Mirage fighter jet, which I never finished, and I'd bought a kit for the Russian MIG fighter. These were arch-enemies in the time of the Border War.
But my great prize was that fire engine, about as big as a loaf and a half of bread. I haven't started with it it's still in the box. It says "American La France Eagle, Fire Pumper".
So when I bought the stuff you need, hobby knife, glue, paints, brushes etc I asked the hobby shop owner after he'd given me everything, but what about black? There is no matt black here. He answered you don't need matt black just gloss. And the chassis? The undercarriage? I asked. It is gloss he answered. I said but gloss shines? He said " Évérything on a fire lorry shines! "
~ ~ ұ ¥ ұ ~ ~
As well the singers as the players of instruments shall be there :
All my springs are in thee !