It is my hope that putting this voice out into our world has value, not only for me, but for others, as well. I admit to sometimes entertaining dreams of it going viral, of infecting the world with my vision. But most of the time I am content to be motivated by Gandhi's assertion: whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The taxi man

Phoebe interrupts her game to swing through the front door and announce that the taxi is here. It irritates Sandra slightly that he arrives so early. It makes her feel hurried. So I go out to tell the taxi man that she will only be ready in half an hour. “I'm early”, he says through the wound down window, as I approach. He is finishing a mouthful of lunch. And still has some red stains from it in the corners of his mouth - maybe tomato sauce. “I came early”, he says, “so that I could sit and look at the mountains for a bit.”

It is one of those gorgeous, bright winter days when the sombre bulbuls are singing clearly from the tree tops. The kids are swinging from the plane tree that stands, bare, in that corner of the garden. Its shielding summer green lies in dry, brown, wind-blown heaps below the trees on the other side of the road, that crinkle noisily when you run through them. They are constructing their own swing, next to Ernie's one. Mila is with them, beautiful Mila with her long legs. I am aware that to the taxi man, waiting across the fence in the gravel road, this must look like an idyllic scene.

Later when I carry Sandra's bags down he gets out of the car to take them. “I grew up in the country”, he says. “I am not from the city.” The two sentences stand in simple opposition. And there is a sense of longing in the gap between them, that makes me warm to the man. He seems to say them with a confidence, perhaps based on the scene around him, that I will understand. No further explanation needed. And so I chat to him about the small town, far away, in which he grew up, until it is time for Sandra to kiss us goodbye and leave for the airport, to fly half way across the world.

I am left that day wondering about this world that we create, the direction of powerful public forces that carry along individuals, strong enough to disconnect them from what they might love. So many people drawn into cities. When I go out later to chop wood for the fire so that the kids pyjamas can warm before they are out the bath, it is dark. The moon has not yet risen above the peaks. The frogs down in the vlei noisily fill the silence. And then I think briefly of the taxi man and I wonder what he is listening to tonight. I feel immensely fortunate to be where I am, on the stoep of our snug home, in the dark, listening to frogs.

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