It was 1979 and there was a new kid on the block. Named after a grandma and 2 grandpa’s. Nothing extraordinary.
I did what all kids did in the 80’s, ran wild and free – and dressed in whatever bad fashion was happening. According to my memory I only liked 2 of my dresses – the red and white one with a strawberry and the white one with pink ribbon.
I didn’t go to preschool because that was 60km away. Instead my ex-teacher mother taught me to read, write, knit and bake cookies. I could find my way home from anywhere on the farm including when I was submerged in a sea of mielies or tobacco plants. I learnt to milk a cow and drank fresh milk – definitely sometimes straight from cow into mouth…sometimes straight to eye. I could speak Tswana fluently and not a single word of English back then – like most people that lived on the border farm. I could swear in my other language more than I could in my own – because the farm children taught me and thought it was a big fat joke.
There was one thing I loved doing even on my own, explore the farm. I would be out for hours. I knew which berries I could eat and always managed to drag some stray cat home (where these cats came from I still don’t know). Everyone on the farm knew who I was and so did the neighbours. It wasn’t strange to see a small person with red dust up to her ears stopping by to ask for water – she was the little Deysel from Hartbeesfontein.
Life on the farm was like a Ferris Bueller day, always the same. Some days however homesick army guys would end up on the farm. They were most eager for a homecooked meal and to share their rat packs. Those rat packs contained the most delicious energy bars…
I will never forget my grandfather and his antics with the army guys. He once had a big braai for a group of 10 and while eating one guy asked what buck the meat was from. My grandfather, obviously knowing by the surname it was a Jewish boy, politely answered that it was a wild pig. The guy first when whiter than milk and then nonchalantly took another piece because he probably wouldn’t see fresh meat soon.
On another occasion a group fresh from training (and the city) stopped by my grandparents’ house. After a huge lunch, you can only get from a boeretannie, they were all offered fresh honeycombs. Unfortunately the honeycombs had young bees in…so it was a waxy, crunchy snack. My grandfather convinced them that it the way it should taste.