They are sitting on the verandah now, my diaries scattered around the remains of their lunch. Princess feeds them too much. They are laughing. Except for Sam. Samson, my son, the son that was taken from me. He is not laughing. He is filled with rage. Even as his hatred for Suzette Hertzog consumes him, he is silent as she reads aloud from my diary, and the hair on their heads touches as they lean over my writing. Hers the colour of the moonlight, and his black as a starless night.
Aah, they are amused about the march that we lost heart for. There was nothing amusing about our struggle for our freedom, our dignity, and the return of that which was taken from us, but sometimes there were moments that stood out, moments where white and black recognised their mutual humanity.
I remember that day so well. We had planned a march in Soweto. It was hot, we were hungry, and we were angry. Then the ratels came, and the saracens, those terrifying death-dealing vehicles. We expected death on that day, of course, our marches seldom ended without such. We did not care. Our eyes were red with the light of battle. We roared, and raised our fists. The noise was powerful.
The young white boys of the army and police cocked their weapons, fear etched into the faces of these children, forced to fight a war which most of them never really understood.
And then a police vehicle drove in fast, and pulled up so suddenly that it slewed sideways, raising a cloud of grey dust from the road. In the small silence that followed, the drivers door was flung open, and we briefly saw the scowling face of a high ranking officer, before it dissapeared completely.
Of course we are a superstitious people, and I am sure that the blood of each man turned to ice at the complete vanishing of this person. We stared as the dust settled, until one of the white policemen begun to laugh hysterically, and there at his feet, chin level with the ground, was the still scowling face of the officer, who in his haste had failed to see the ditch that he had stopped beside.
Our laughter grew loud, and mingled, black and white, which is as it should be.
I watch Suzette wipe the tears that begun with her laughter, and now creep down her face in sadness. I wish I could give her comfort, this daughter, this soul that entwined with mine, at the end of my life.
© Jo Robinson 2012
Madam said to me, “When you write your cookbook Princess, maybe it would be better if you don’t call it Africolonial Cuisine.”
She does not like that word. Colonial. She is much ashamed of what her ancestors did to us, here in Africa. Of course, I understand her shame, I have met her parents after all.
My book is not of those things, those times of great suffering, or indeed of the sufferings of today. It is of cooking. My cooking. My Africolonial Cooking. That is what it is after all, and I will not be as the ostrich, and hide my face beneath the soft sand, believing that if you cannot see it, it is not so.
I must look now, and see, which dish we shall serve first.
© Jo Robinson 2012
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