A selfless life
A still figure standing in the front garden caught my attention as I moved through the house. The children were busy outside doing what farm children do. I had just completed the day’s ironing. I walked to the window and looked at the still figure, standing erect, both hands at her sides. A small bald-headed man appeared as if from nowhere. She did not move, just followed him with her eyes.
He walked up to the window and said in Zulu, “She needs to work. She had 4 children. She is a widow. She comes from the Transkei”. It wasn’t a request. He had promised to help her and was being true to his word. Little did I know that she would stay for 23 years. Many years later she told me the story of how her husband was killed on the mines in Johannesburg and left her destitute. Her husband’s family demanded that she and the children left the kraal. They were supposed to support her at this time of crisis. Just the opposite happened. She never spoke much about her life as it must have been before. She missed the children. The political system prevented her from having them with her. Twice per year she would tackle the 400km to see them – a bus to Pietermaritzburg, then a train to Umtata, then another bus to Umzimkulu. During her absence, her aged mother took care of her children. Monthly she sent money to support them. To her horror she discovered that the trading post, which served as a postal collection point, removed part of the hard earned money. Another plan was made. Her eldest son would travel to her every month to personally collect the monthly allowance. She kept the minimum for herself. She spent her days doing her appointed duties, helping in and around the house.