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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Listening to the little people

Gill and I went to Paternoster on the Sunday (via Darling, Malmesbury, Riebeek Kasteel). We arrived there at around four, having pretty much lost track of time. We managed to get accommodation at a quaint little cottage at a steal (R400!!! for the night). We then went for starters at the little red beach restuarant mosied of to the hotel for crayfish.

The next morning, lots of photos later, we sat amongst the little fishing boats and dunes to do some drawing and painting. After about an hour, and really getting into it, a group of school children walked up to me, saying 'helooo aaanti Sharon' (obviously ushered to me by Gill. In retalliation, I confirmed that she WAS in fact my mother. Well they asked.) They soon made themselves comfortable with my phone, camera (not from a lucky packet) and my paints. But what a blessing. I loved sitting with them and listening to their chatter, answering their million quiestions. The little girl of 8, Tiana, was eventually sitting with her head on my shoulder telling me about her 'fat' mother who works in the hotel as a dish washer, her eldest sister of 25 years with three children who still lives with them, her middle sister of 19 with 2 children ('met een in die maag'), her third sister and two brothers. What I found interesting and really sad was when, upon looking at the photos of my aunt and cousin, Claude, on my phone, they asked me "Is daai man ook naar" (Is that man also horrible) giving me the distinct impression that the males of this lovely little village, predominantly fishermen, are not endearing themselves to their children and women-folk! On speaking to one or two fishermen, their lives revolve around the sea and bringing in a good catch. They leave home at 2 or 3 in the morning and return at about nine or ten, often with the labours of their day having been spent at the local bottle store.

Luciano, a small 9 year old boy who very obviously had a cold, also referred to the "naare mans" but adamently confirmed that he too would be a fisherman one day, whereas Tiana wants to work in the houses (the little houses used by us 'lani' holliday-makers) as she "kan baie geld maak" (could earn a lot of money). When I suggested that maybe she become a teacher or a 'verpleegster' (nurse), she didn't know what the latter was. ... And so the cycle continues.

Luciano ran down the beach and took zillions of photos with my honesty, the thought did cross my mind that I wouldn't see either ever again..but sometimes, its good to listen to ones nieve heart and go with a bit of blind faith and trust, because he did eventually return with huge grin on his little face.

After close to an hour and a half of sharing stories, my paints, water and journal (they each painted a little something in it) we drove them to the little store where they wanted us to drop them off and with a packet of biscuits between them and their suitcases, they walked away and didn't look back.

They'll never know how much they touched the heart of THIS 'lani'.

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