Ones friendships can be a Cross to bear from time to time. Diktak Taljaard is one such friend, whose innocent actions have left me lumbered with a Cross,scant hope of salvation and an unbridled joy in the discovery of a new love late in life!
I was at Salajee's General Hardware, where one can buy anything from a kilogram of enriched uranium to a Set Square for the dyslexic. I had just completed my purchase of a packet of panel pins - those one's that bend exactly in the middle - even when you miss them with the hammer - when Diktak suddenly appeared before me, as he tends to do with mysterious regularity.
His purpose at Salajee's was to procure putty and a window pane having suffered the embarrassment of having to break a window to regain access into his own home. He had decided, the previous evening, after quite a few tots of Klipdrift, to "water the petunia's" in the garden, rather than use the waterborne facility inside the house. He said to me. "I heard the door, with it's Yale lock, slam shut, midstream. I came to a very clear understanding of that old saying - 'When one door shuts, another window is broken"!
Ja Nee Oom Schalk - That nectar in a Klipdrift bottle can cast one adrift in uncharted waters...!
Our business at Salajee's completed, Diktak invited me to assist him with the replacement of the window pane. The added inducement of lamb chops cooked over hot coals and a taste of the nectar that had compromised his judgement the previous evening, made his invitation irresistible and we set off to his place, via the home of John Pillans, who had offered to lend Diktak a putty knife.
John Pillans, Oom Schalk, can best be described as a delightfully erudite, eclectic collector. His home,shared gracefully by Avril, his wife and great love, is a series of storerooms, sheds and garages too which are attached the necessities of life in the shape of bedrooms, living area's, a kitchen, ablution facilities and a wonderful stoep where one can sit at sunset and savour a suitable libation in the company of fine conversation and friendship.
These storerooms, sheds and garages act as secure repository's for things one could never live without, and are very well stocked! In fact one would be very hard pressed to find any other suburban home in the Colony that has an original Fergusson "Vaaljapie" tractor on hand - just in case one needs to plough the lawn!
We were rummaging around in one of the sheds in search of the putty knife, when for some reason, that old song - Green Door.... 'what's that secret you're keeping'... - came rambling into my mind. I have learnt over time, Oom Schalk, that synchronicity is a fleeting bedfellow in my life, very often I miss the portent of it's seemingly frivolous coincidence. I fail, as so many of us do, to read the signposts that nature points us toward that are contained in coincidental moments.
On this occasion however, whilst humming the melody, I caught my foot on the corner of an old engine block lying on the floor of the shed and fell forward, colliding head-on with the doorway to destiny!
My outstretched arm seeking support to cushion my fall, came into contact with an old, dusty tarpaulin, which was camoflaging as I was later to discover, a very wide open car window. Said arm, followed in short order, by my head and upper torso, entered the vehicle in a wild cloud of dust, their passage thankfully interrupted by things immovable causing great pain!
Clutching, very possessively, my painfully offended body parts, I staggered to my feet and found that Diktak, ably supported by John Pillans, were themselves staggering around - convulsed in laughter - the sort of laughter that invites a stream of invective which duly flowed, followed by laughter of my own as I succumbed to thoughts of what I must have looked like!
"That old girl caught me more than a few times like that," said John Pillans, smiling, as he pulled the tarpaulin back to reveal her identity. "She seduced me some fifty years ago and whilst I have remained faithful for all these years, I just don't have what it takes anymore to satisfy her and bring out the mischief in her, as you did today"!
She was beautiful Oom Schalk, in a Botticelli sort of way, nothing like these slim line models one see's today. Whilst built for comfort with elegant lines and gentle curves, she nevertheless exuded a sense of playful power that I found irresistible! "Would you consider letting her go", I asked suddenly, not sure where the words came from... but certain that She of Great Intelligence, patiently awaiting my return at home, would have some misgivings when I finally arrived at home and broke the news of my purchase of a 1961 Mercedes Benz 220S in need of reconstruction and a great deal of loving care!
As I looked into the eyes of John Pillans, a silence descended. Perhaps it was our raucous laughter earlier that attracted her, but the next voice that spoke was that of Avril, the other love in John's life - his wife, who had, most politely, eavesdropped on our conversation! A teacher, her gentle words carried an inscrutable logic and were delivered with loving authority. Temerity prevents me from repeating them Oom Schalk, suffice to say that there was a great deal of love in the eyes of John Pillans, when he said to me, whilst looking directly at Avril, the woman he loved, "Miss Mercedes is for sale - but only to you.... At seventy eight I realise that I have much unfinished business to attend to lovingly, with this woman who has given so much of her life to the care of me"!
A price was agreed on the basis of a handshake, Diktak and I departed and a window pane was installed, followed in short order by succulent chops and a healthy quantity of the nectar that had helped Diktak to formulate his decision to break a window the previous evening.
I arrived home somewhat worse for wear. She of Great Intelligence greeted me with a smile and listened intently to my description of the days happenings, complete with all the embellishment I added to convince her of my utmost good faith in the matter.
When I could say no more, she quietly said, "Avril and I have known each other for years, we talk often. She is friendly with Diktak's wife who told her that he very often has to break a window to gain entry to the house and that when he is in his cups it is very often not the wind that causes the door to slam shut.She also told me that he has many putty knives at home...!
Ja Nee Oom Schalk, it appears that I was destined to own Miss Mercedes one way or another.
My best wishes