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Posts Tagged ‘familiar’

 

“Congratulations! You’ve reached the next step in the citizenship process.”

This was the email that suddenly appeared in my inbox late yesterday. It came from the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. There was an initial rush of excitement. We were almost there. It meant there was just one more appointment with the authorities.

Within the next month we would be singing…..Oh Canada!

I slept badly which surprised me as I thought the news of the previous day would send me into a soporific dreamland. Somewhere through my wakeful periods and my jumbled dreams came these uncomfortable thoughts. They were thoughts of failure, abandonment and being disloyal. Was I being disloyal by taking on the citizenship and culture of another country? It seemed fortuitous but I then received a message from a dear friend to say she was standing outside what she thought was my family home in Stellenbosch. The tears just rolled down my cheeks. So many happy family memories and the faces of the people that I love filled my mind. I still love South Africa and the Western Cape and all that goes with that…..

Please don’t think that I need you to feel sorry for me, I certainly do not. This was all my own doing. But have you any idea how hard this is? I have knowingly left behind 60 years of all that is familiar, my history, my dear friends and estranged family members. Family often take strain with this whole process too as they feel that you have run from your responsibilities. But my responsibility had to be firstly to my immediate family. Fortunately I knew my parents understood that and they gave me their blessing.

I have allowed myself to be sad today. I mourn the life I once had in South Africa and the people that I love back there. When the time comes, I will sing the Canadian Anthem with pride but the gentle words of Nkosi Sikeleli will play a soft tune in the background of my mind.

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The familiar images flash past and I take in the different scenes. I recognize many of the places and floods of memories rush in. I allow myself to linger with these thoughts and a tear rolls down my cheek. The rich music soothes me with the smooth rhythms and rich tones. I do miss South Africa and all that goes along with it!

Jumping for joy on a Cape beach.

Jumping for joy on a Cape beach.

I suppose my sentiments have been jogged as I stare at the book cover ‘Scatterlings- A tapestry of Afri-Expat Tales by Eve Cummings. A few of my blogs will be included in her book and I realize that I now fall under the heading: Expat!

I must add that I am honoured to be tucked in somewhere in between. There are some prominent South Africans whose writings have been included such as Helene Zille, Clem Sunter and Max du Preez.  So I really don’t mind being included along with that lot!

But I suppose we also have our story to tell. It is the one of how you ‘start again’ in a new country. I have always been grateful that we did not feel pushed to leave South Africa. We were fortunate that we did not have deeper reasons for leaving; it was merely a work opportunity that could not be refused. That being said, it still does not make the whole process any easier. There have been days when I have been so apprehensive. The older brain just struggles to adapt to ‘the newness of all things.’ Fortunately we come from good ‘pioneering stock’ and we face the challenges head on and try not to play ‘the when we’ game. Not too often, that is!

One of my favourite views...the Lonehill Koppie.

One of my favourite views…the Lonehill Koppie.

But today I am just going to allow myself to miss the country and the people we left behind. I glance at the photos again….. It is truly beautiful! I think of the wine lands and scenic Cape Town where I grew up as a child. Then there were all the places that I spent my adult years……… The Karoo got me to ‘put on my big girl panties’ when I first arrived there as a young bride. I could not cook a thing and ‘pannekoekbak’ was a prerequisite of a young country housewife. So the learning curve was initiated! Initially I had perceived the Karoo to be barren but soon grew to love the stillness and the generosity of spirit of the local farmers. Mpumalanga was the complete opposite as it was lush and green and had the added benefit of the proximity to the surrounding game parks. We spent many happy hours in the bush there. The next stop was Johannesburg. I feared I would never settle in this metropolis, but I did. At first I felt like a little Barbarton daisy trying to survive in the middle of Adderley Street. It soon enveloped me with its charm and the warmth of its people.

The Karoo mountains

The Karoo mountains

Then there were the holiday destinations like Mozambique and Zimbabwe. How can I possibly sum up the tranquility and beauty in a few words? Camping in the bush, fishing trips, tracking the African Big Five or just lying on a remote beach in the sun…..these memories are all safely filed away.

 

A view from a special farm near Sabi.

A view from a special farm near Sabi.

 

 

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The thrill of the first snow flakes

It had been a long and tedious trip. I could not sleep and continuously searched for a position that felt comfortable. It was not to be and I just lay there with my eyes closed and reflected on the last 10 days that I had spent in South Africa.

I had only been away for a year but it seems like an eternity….. so much had happened during that time. I had managed to drive on the ‘wrong side’ of the road, stand up on my skis and actually wend my way down a slope. I had built up muscle in parts of my body that I never knew existed and all the yard work was surely keeping me limber! Every day was a challenge of learning, remembering and experiencing new things. Just to memorise my telephone number took a few months, as I have never bothered ‘my pretty little head’ with such trivial things. Who needs to remember when you can just enter the number in your cell phone? It also took a while to recognise the coins, as I only ever used them for parking meters!

Things are beginning to feel familiar. The ‘firsts’ are becoming seconds, thirds and fourths. I can now find my way around town without quivering in my boots and actually recognize a few landmarks. I greet my pharmacist by name and the cashiers at the supermarket smile when they recognize me. I am certainly in there frequently enough! The baker, who makes the most delicious seed loaf, always inquires about our life ‘back home.’ We continue the sequel each week as I stock up on my supply of freshly baked bread. I suppose I just don’t feel like a Barberton daisy that is trying to survive in a busy street anymore!

The wait in Amsterdam dragged and I was finally on my last leg of the trip. As I arrived at the gate I was informed that I had been bumped up to business class. Hoorah! They must have noticed this bedraggled passenger and taken pity on her. I spread myself out and sank into my soft leather seat. I stretched my legs out and wiggled my toes. I was in 7th heaven! Then I was plied with French champagne and served an elegant supper. I was absorbed by all the new delights and the array of movies that were on offer on the in-flight entertainment. I could not help notice my neighbour who was quite blasé about the whole experience. He was obviously one of the frequent business class flyers and I stood out like a sore thumb with my naivety and enthusiasm.

Over the past year I have certainly displayed my vulnerability with all the change that has occurred.  But I have also recognized the enthusiasm that exists deep inside me and the strength to cope with life’s challenges. I have felt the wind beneath my wings……  

One of ‘the firsts’…watching football.

 

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