So, most of you regular readers (all 4 of you) will know the story about Witness (scroll down my links and find the relevant posts), as well as the fact that I have been taking care of his widow for the past 2 years (or so).
On Sunday morning I decide it's a good time to take the Princess for a breakfast. Clearwater Mall sounds like a good place, and whilst I am there I can go look for an espresso machine for Mom.
On the way I get a call from Sara (Witness friend with the cellphone) to say Emily is not well, and they have convinced her that she should go to her children in Orange Farm (LIU). And would I be able to assist. So first thing I ask them is to see if there is someone there with a bakkie / truck, that is willing to take her, and how much they would charge. So they go ask, call me back, and put some moron on the phone. 1.5 he says (ZAR1500)! Are you fucked in the head I say - don't worry I will sort it out myself. I speak to Sara, and tell her I will be there in a while.
We go for breakfast (at this time it's brunch) LuckyL and the Princess go do some shopping for him, I go look for the espresso machine. Then LuckyL stays behind - he's going to movies with his girlfriend / ex-girlfriend / girlfriend (who the fuck knows if they on again / off again), and the Princess and I drive to the squatter camp.
There I find the locals have packed up all of Emily's stuff, and have it all outside her room! OK, so I chat to her (via a translator) and hear she is not well. I offer to come back and move her to her children in Orange Farm. Put all the stuff back into the room till I get back I say.
Off home, change cars, hook up the 5 foot Venter (LIU) and fill up the tank - off I go.
Not much to lead, trailer full, some stuff in the cars trunk, and a bedside table and two plastic chairs on top of the trailer. I ask Sara to go with, and another young man also gets into the car!?! Who the fuck are you? Albert. And where are you going? He was asked to go with. He speaks Sotho, like the old lady does, and the folk thought it would be better if I had a black man go with me.
OK, no problem. I punch Orange Farm into the Garmin, and we are off. I had an idea where it was anyway, but hey, if you have a Garmin, use it. 65 km and 40 minutes later we arrive at the outskirts of Orange Farm.Emily is slumped across the back seat, leaning against Albert. I swear she looks like she's going to die. I need to find her people quickly. Even Sara remarked that she didn't look so bad before I collected them - so she figures it's much of a put on. Whatever. I punch in "Police Station", and the Garmin says "go this way". When we get to where it points us - fuckall, there's a Natural remedy / herbal wellness centre there. OK, punch in "Fire Station". I figure that if there are so many damn houses, they would know where 361 is. After all, they need to find the houses fast in the event of a fire.
On the way, we spot house numbers - 5698... 14637.... oh boy, I think, we never going to find this 361.
And then we find the SAPS. I send Sara and Albert in. I want to know which direction we should go to find this house. They offer an escort. We wait 5 minutes, a SAPS bakkie arrives, they cop goes inside, then comes out, with two other officers in tow, and shows me to follow. Into the heart of the location / squatter camp. Some tar roads, some seriously fucked up dirt roads, and eventually we arrive at 361. All get out - I'm chuffed that we have achieved ...... FUCKALL. It's not the right place. SO the cops start talking to people around there - everyone comes over to stare at a) The old lady to see if they know her and b) this fucking stupid white man who has the cojones to come into this place!!!!
They direct us to a family nearby with the same surname. Off we go. Get there, and it's more of the same. Another pointer. There we go. No one home - this is not 361 - but someone with the same surname. As we about to leave - a seriously fucked up taxi pulls up, and a couple of people get out. I walk over and see some rust on the back, above the rear light cluster, and poke at it with my finger, and punch a hole right through the body work!! The driver owns the house we had been sent to. He comes over, and checks out the old lady. Nope, does not know her. Has a bit of a chat, and she drops a few names of places that make his eyes light up. Another squatter camp, nearby, but not Orange Farm, and a shop called Springbok Supermarket. The cops know the area - it's not their area, but offer to take me back to the station, and give me directions. On the way they point me on, and say they just have to respond to a call, and will meet me there in a few. I drive to the station, punch the name of the other squatter camp / township into the Garmin
We drive on. Past the place we had stopped when we got there - the natural remedy place. Onwards to the Golden Highway (LIU) and into the township. The "Police station" according to Garmin, turns out to be a Primary school. Thanx for nothing you dumb bitch!!! So there we ask for directions to Springbok Supermarket, and we quite close. Drive down there, and park. Stop a passing cop car, but turns out he's not from that area - (probably doing some work on the side) and he drives on. Sara and Albert start talking to anyone / everyone in the street. Many come to stare - at the old lady, and this damn stupid white man.....
Eventually one lady says - she knows where 361 is. Load her up - I now have 4 of these heathens in my car. All windows are down, aircon is blasting full speed. We get to the house - no one home, but the neighbours kids go and find the owners. Wrong place - again... For Fuck sakes!!!! But there we get told that the houses on the other side of the railway line, also have similar number. We race off (as fast as off road type riding will allow when in a Toyota Corolla with 4 adults inside, and towing a trailer will allow). Get to the other side, and it's strange that on one side of the first road all the houses are numbered 32x..... even numbers, but the other side is 458x.......odd numbers. But not like we have them in the "white areas, where you follow the numbering down the road. I work out that unlike "white" areas, their houses are numbered odd and even back to back. So, drive around the block. Half way down I find 361, and stop. No one home... You got to be kidding me.
Start the questioning process with the neighbours and again it seems we have found the right house number, wrong house. Start asking anyone / everyone passing by if they know the old lady. No, no, no, no...... and then a younger man walks over. Looks like he's approaching me, but is just being inquisitive, and also wants to look into the car to see what everyone is looking at, and talking about. And suddenly he says "Gogo!" And I grab him like a man possessed. Do you know her? Yes, he says, she lived about 3 houses from me... but she's been gone a long time - we though she was dead. Well, she's not, I say - get in!!!!! Now I have 5 of these heathens in the car!!!!! Make a u turn he says - yea right, this is a squatter camp, very narrow roads - if you can call them roads..... but I managed.
Bottom of the road, turn left, left again. A few hundred meters down, turn right, first one left..... right.... left again - ....
By now I'm convinced he's taking me to a dead end, run by Nigerians, and he's going to sell me to them for a fiver. My leatherman is unscheathed, and main blade deployed, locked into place, leatherman on the carpet at my feet. If this goes belly up, I'm gutting him first. Third house down, on the left, number 74, and he says stop. NOW I KNOW I'M FUCKED!!!!!!
And he gets out and walks to the door and knocks. No one home. An old (very old) man from next door approaches. I get out. He asks, what brings us here? I tell him about the old lady. he looks into the car, and his face lights up like the Eiffel tower on new years!!!!! He can't believe it's her. On his cellphone, and calls her daughter! Takes him some time to convince her to come home and that it really is her mum. In fact, he had to pass the phone to that lady from over the road to do the final convincing. In the meantime, the young man who took us there, has gone off (with ZAR10.00 in his hand from me) with Albert, to find the son who is at a local shebeen. They soon come back, with said son in tow. I can see he is confused, wondering what this story is about, and what this white man wants here..... Takes one look at the old lady, and bursts into uncontrolled sobbing. MUM!!!!!! Finally, the daughter gets there, and also, very sceptically approaches the car. Takes one look - and is bawling!!!!!!
And the old lady gets out of the car, and walks to the house like there's nothing wrong with her. WTF? 5 Minutes ago she looked like she was going to die!!!!!!
Anyway, turns out that she left home to go to Jo'burg 10 years ago. And never came back. Her kids had been looking for her on and off for some time, even walking the streets of the city in case she was living in the streets. About 2 or 3 years ago they decided that she must be dead, as they had had no communication from her all that time. It took me all of 5 minutes to unpack the car and trailer, and dropped ZAR300 into her handbag whilst I was at it. it took us more than 30 minutes before we could leave, as people were coming from all over to see this woman presumed dead, and everyone wanting to hear the story from Sara, and then coming over to thank me and shake my hand. Her son must have shaken my hand 50 times. It was, ultimately, an amazing experience. Apart from the time I thought I was being directed into a bad space, I never felt threatened. Everyone was nice, friendly, even if they were surprised to see a white guy in their area. I swear, the way some of the smaller kids looked at me at various stops, they have never seen White man before!!!!
So, I won't be buying monthly groceries for Emily anymore. Probably, I wont ever see her again. No matter, the people back at the squatter camp where she lived till yesterday were very grateful for what had been done, and I was asked to please not forget them now that she's no longer there. And, please don't forget the kids......
So, although I don't think I will be doing X-Mas hampers for the kids like last year, I might just turn up there one day, before Xmas, with a boot full of sweets and stuff, and just hand it out to all the kids. We will see.
For now - my work is done there.