War stories - Chapter 9
War Stories - chapter 9. (Hub is coming home on leave)
“Why did you name him Johan Hubert?” someone asked today. Hubert is obvious, as that is his father’s name and if something should happen to Hub at the war front, his child will carry his name and his memory into the future. As I fill in the birth registration form that Dad has brought to me in the hospital, the name “Johan” kind of jumps into my mind from somewhere. I have always liked the name John, but that seems too English and so Johan seems just right. In the space “fathers signature” I fill in “away on active service” and Dad countersigns it.
Back on the farm the little boy is the centre of attention and everyone wants to hold him and admire him as if this is the first baby they have ever seen. At the same time I have to must admit that in my eyes he is the most beautiful, but isn’t that how all mothers feel? Mom and Dad are walking around with big smiles on their faces; after all this is their only grandchild and nothing is too good for him. As the weeks pass he is growing so fast, his eyes taking in everything happening around him. He is smiling and soon will be able to crawl. When I put him down on a blanket in the garden he looks around as if the world is an interesting place, but then he is growing up in a wonderful environment. The weekly Sunday lunches on the farm are well attended as even distant family members come to visit. In my mind at least, they are coming to see my baby and I love to show him off.
Today when Dad returns from town with supplies for the farm loaded into the Chevy, he holds in his hand an orange/brown envelope that can only be a telegram. “Guess what I found in the post box today?” He teases me as he waves it in the air just out of reach. “Dad, don’t do that, give it to me at once!” My hands shake as I tear it open. “Hub is on his way home” I cry out! I can hardly believe it.
One of the many advantages of having a father who was high ranking in the South African Police is that he knows the powers that be at the front in Africa and now also in Italy, on a personal basis. It is after all, the Police Brigade that has been sent to Egypt and General Klopper and Brigadier Cooper had often been in our home in Rebecca Street where we grew up. Dad and they had often spent a pleasant evening playing cards or snooker in the Officers Club in Pretoria, so when Dad requests a favour, it is likely to be given. Unknown to me Dad has been in contact with Hub’s commanding officers and had managed to arrange for a spell of home leave. If all goes well he will arrive home next week. My heart is jumping around like a mad butterfly in my chest. Life is suddenly getting better, much better! Do I see on even bigger smile on the babies face?