On the trip back we arrived in Nelspruit just before sunrise and with a wait of approximately three hours before we could connect with the Local to Barberton. At that time of the morning Nelspruit was still in dreamland and as there was no adult supervision a lot of the older kids disappeared and returned just before the train’s departure smelling of alcohol, where they obtained it I was never to find out.
The rest of the kids waited for the station’s kiosk to open at around seven where I was introduced by a small blond girl to the delights of sardines and sweetened condensed milk on Marie biscuits. From that moment on we were always together when we were allowed into town every Saturday, suffering the usual taunts of being boyfriend and girlfriend chanted by our peers in the student body, we were just friends she also being English speaking and the only one of her class in the hostel.
As the previous year my memory is very scratchy when it comes to names. She is the person that showed me the statue of ‘Jock’, famed in literature as Jock of the Bushveld; she showed it to me because I had told her that the thing I missed most from home was my dog Tina. So the first thing that we did every Saturday was to visit Jock and I would ask him to pass on my love to Tina and to tell her that I was OK. A dog that had its own statue had to be very special, not so? So I was sure he would pass on the messages.
During those Saturday visits we would attend the matinee together, as there was only one cinema in Barberton and it always showed its latest offerings for a fortnight, we visited the cinema every second week. One of the more memorable films was ‘Gone with The Wind’ the first film that I ever cried in, not because at that age I appreciated the classic nature of the movie, nor because it was the longest movie I had ever seen, but due to the attention of a wasp.
We were sitting in the back row of the cinema, where all the kids sat, when I felt what I thought was a fly making its way along my neck, so I naturally swatted it with my hand. The pain was excruciating and been a boy even if only ten I tried to be a man and not cry, I failed in the attempt and tears were still streaming down my cheeks when the movie ended, she thought it was sweet and offered me her lace hankie to mop up the tears. For once in my life I was a real rooinek as the swelling took days to subside and the boys that noticed the tears never let me forget that I had cried like a girl at the movies.
She was one of the better things that happened that term, besides rugby the other was the Gym teacher volunteering to teach me how to defend myself as he had noticed that I was beaten more regularly than the other children. He tried to convince me to learn to hold my tongue and when that seemed impossible he told me he would tell me when I was ready to defend myself and should show the same ineptitude until that time. His reason being if they saw me getting progressively better at defending myself they would just use more of them to get the job done, instead of just one on one.
Lots of HUGS and more,