The Self Employed Housewife - A Seaman's Wife's story Ch 16
Two days later she left Johannesburg at four in the morning. The traffic would be minimal so she could easily do the trip in one day if she could get past the Free State province before lunch. Both Piet and Yolanda were sad to see her leave, especially Yolanda who disliked being alone with only her children for company. They were a very loving couple and clearly devoted to each other, but she would not want to have a husband that was so clingy. Piet was a nice looking man and a great host, but his need to please got onto her nerves.
She remembered that on the Fairstar passenger liner Yolanda and Jan would often crack jokes. They came from the same background in Holland. Piet had been brought up in South Africa but wanted a Dutch wife, so he started having Dutch woman pen friends. Yolanda, who was a nurse, became one of his pen pals. When he visited Holland they immediately hit it off.
Piet was more like her, an entrepreneur, and she could easily listen to all his building ideas he was dreaming up but Yolanda showed no interest in his plans.
They arrived home at seven in the evening. She was exhausted but happy to drive into Palm Springs. Her first call was to fetch the keys to their own unit. When Corrie opened her front door her surprise was clear.
“Hi, we all wondered why you stayed away so long. Jan came home and found his place deserted, so he came to us asking where you were.”
“Really? When was that? I never knew he had been back in Durban. I wrote several letters and sent them to the same office. Maybe he never got them?“ Gosh she truly felt bad for not being there for him. She had been away for over five weeks.
“Oh well he was alright and he did mention that he recalled you wanting to visit your friends in Johannesburg. Come inside. “ Corrie’s two toddlers were already asleep in bed.
“It’s already after seven and I’m truly exhausted. All I want to do is have a bath and put the kids to bed. Can I come over later, when they are asleep?
Corrie waved at both Sascia and Jeroen through the car window.
“I want to hear all about what happened to the family of the woman who committed suicide. I presume they are not staying in my home anymore?”
“Oh, no. They all left a week later. I checked and everything seems in order. Yes, come later. We have a lot to tell you” She whispered just in case Sascia overheard them talking
How life can change
After her bath and the kids were fast asleep, she sneaked out to have a glass of wine with Corrie and Jim. Lots had happened while she was away. The family of the deceased woman left Palm Springs. A removal van had come a week later and there were already new tenants in their unit. Jim and Corrie were also moving. Jim had been transferred to the Cape Town branch. They were already packing.
“You never left a phone number where you were going to be staying, and Jan did not have it either.” Jim was busy taking down pictures from the wall. Their lounge already had that hollow sound, when less furniture items occupied the space.
“Oh I’m so going to miss you both.”
She told them that Jan might find a job ashore in Port Elizabeth, and then she shared the shipwreck story, but they had already heard about that.
“Your hubby told us all about how they picked up people in heavy seas. He gave some man his spare clothes and shoes. He was wondering if he would ever get them back but we didn’t think so.”
“Oh, dear. Yes, the newspaper was a week old when I read the headlines about the Voorspeler. That was why I came home, because the harbour captain said that the Voorspeler was expected to return this weekend. “
She did not stay long because she never knew if Sascia would wake up and find her not at home.
Morning Coffee hour
Corrie and Pat exchanged addresses during their morning coffee session in her garage. Nicole had good news; telling her that her journalist friend would soon contact her for an interview for the Fair Lady fashion magazine. Debbie was also leaving in three weeks time. Gerrit her husband had been offered a captain’s post in Hout Bay, a fishing suburb of Cape Town.
“Gosh how things have changed in just five weeks!”
“Never mind, who knows you might also leave for PE.” Pat replied. “Then Nicole and myself will be left behind.”
“When does Jan’s ship arrive in Durban?” Debbie asked.
“Tomorrow early, so they say.”
“Debbie tell her your other news, or must I?” Corrie teased.
“Let me guess, you pregnant.”
“How did you know?”
“You refused a cigarette” She replied smiling. She was glad for her, hoping that they would have a girl that they both wanted.
“Any more news? What about our plumber next door? Is he also being transferred?” she whispered. They all laughed at her hopeful expression.
“You wish. We have not seen him, but his wife is friendly with the new tenants who moved into the unit where the woman committed suicide “
“Who knows they might have split up.” Corrie added. She knew about the sexual harassment story that she had never told Jan about, but she had threatened him that she would, if he didn’t stop bothering her.
The arrival of the Voorspeler
Sascia and Jeroen were bouncing for joy knowing their daddy would be home that night. They would first visit the saddler’s shop and then drive to the harbour. The Voorspeler would have been docked already, but Jan would not be going anywhere. She had asked the port captain to tell him that his wife would pick him up. Just in case Jan was still under the impression that she was still in Johannesburg. He must have received her letters by now.
She had a hunch to ask Amit if he knew of any leather shop in Port Elizabeth when she bought a full hide and more spirit dye for use on leather.
“No idea. I’m sure there must be because there is a tannery in King William’s Town and that is about three hours from PE. Why are you asking?”
She now felt silly for asking, and the kids were listening.
“Somebody who lives in PE asked me.” She lied.
When they arrived at the harbour the Voorpeler was already alongside and people were coming down the gangway. They walked up and the kids were both running ahead of her. She hoped she would find no strange woman in his cabin like the last time, because Jan had never explained who that when she had asked.
Jan was waiting and his bags were packed. He was glad to see the children, but shook his head at her with is pipe in his mouth.
Jan had resigned.
“Why all the baggage?” she asked. Normally Jan would only have one small bag with his toiletries since he had most of his clothes at home.
“I’m coming home for good. I will tell you all about it on the way. Let’s say goodbye to the captain and we’ll be off.” The kids were both happy and Sascia was bragged about her jumping in the pool at Ritchie’s place. Jan was surprised, but complimented her. Out of the blue when they said goodbye to the Captain, Jeroen spouted out that his dad was a Hero.
For him to suddenly talk a whole sentence was unusual, but to a relative stranger, that was even more surprising. She quickly explained where that came from, and the captain laughed and wholeheartedly agreed.
Jan drove home and during the journey he dropped the bombshell. He had accepted a job as a stevedore in Port Elizabeth at the ore berth. She knew it! Her hunch was correct.
“Oh and by the way, I found a leather shop in Main Street.”
“Really? You looked it up?”
“Oh yes. I knew you would complain otherwise, so you can carry on with your leatherwork. “
Packing for Port Elizabeth
Jan had made arrangement for a removal van, and a storing space for all their belongings while looking for a house to buy in Port Elizabeth. He had even booked two rooms in a guesthouse for a month in the middle of town.
When they were alongside the quay in PE after the shipwreck ordeal, he heard from stevedores who came on board about a job opening. He was offered the position but it was an urgent matter that he could start as soon as possible. Jan had been allowed to give two week’s notice, and because they rented their complex on the monthly bases, they could also leave in the middle of October.
It was all so sudden. She had to get used to Jan who was now once again totally in control, like he was in Australia; not that she minded, but she had gotten used to making her own decisions when he was not around and rather liked it.
They held their last coffee session with just Nicole and Pat, while Jan collected the children from play school for the last time. She felt sorry for Jeroen’s one friend, who would be very upset.
Corrie and Debbie had left Palm Springs a few days previously.
All her leather work was already packed away, so they sat on camping chairs which Pat had brought along. She hoped that Port Elizabeth was a nice town to live in. Nicole had family there but she admitted that she would not like to live there. She preferred to be in a bigger city like Durban or Cape Town.
Pat replied that smaller places had also their advantages. What that was she would have to find out for herself.