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War Stories Chapter 11
War Stories - chapter 11. (Hub arrives for a visit.)
Today is the day! I have hardly slept these last few days. The baby has been restless as if he also knows something important is going to take place. “Let’s go Dad”, I had started at about 08h00 knowing that the train is arriving from Durban at 10h00. “What if the train is early?” “Yes my dear, that is very likely”, Dad replies, knowing that if anything, the train will arrive late. The Ossewa Brandwag has suffered some severe setbacks, but Robey Leigbbrandt is still at large and is reported to be hiding out in the Soutpansberg Mountain Range not far from here. What if in a final desperate attempt, he and his helpers blow up a train bringing soldiers back from the front? Even I realize that this is not likely but one never knows. I tried to persuade Dad to travel down to Durban by car to meet Hub there, but other commitments have prevented that idea from finding a place to germinate.
It is now 09h00 and Dad is taking the Chevy out of the garage. I cannot help but compare the urgency that had prevailed on our journey to the hospital some four months earlier, with the much more relaxed attitude of Dad today. Nothing is relaxed in my heart as I carry the baby to the car to put him on the back seat for the 20 mile trip into Pretoria.
As I stand on my toes on the station platform, trying to get a better view, I search for my darling husband among the many, mostly younger men, leaning out of the coach windows, also straining their eyes for a glimpse of loved ones. “There he is!” my Dad calls out, and yes, his sun burnt face is smiling at the crown not having spotted us yet. Jumping up and down I wave my arm while holding little Johan in the other one. Now he sees me as the coach moves past and I follow, almost bumping an elderly lady over. “Sorry Madam”, I apologize, as I try to get through the crowd to where his window is.
Soldiers are passing their kit bags out of windows to friends and family, everyone in a mad rush to be together, some for the first time in over three years. I hear a mother burst into tears and find that I am crying too. The baby at my side begins to cry but this is not a cry of joy but rather one of confusion as the crowds hustle and bump. Why am I part of this madness? Because that is exactly how I feel. Time has separated us for so long and now every second matters.
Now he is in my arms and I am in his, and somewhere in between is the frightened baby. Dad picks Hub’s abandoned kit bag up and I see tears in his eyes also. Yes, we are together again at last and he is holding up our child. The look on his face is frozen in my memory for ever. Will I ever feel such happiness again? Perhaps, but somehow I doubt it. Thank you Lord for answering my prayers!