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The Self-employed Housewife: A Seaman's Wife's Story Ch 18
Being driven around
The following morning the estate agent came around at eleven. This was good timing because the kids were getting restless being cooped up inside. There were no other kids to play with. She only saw older people who were permanent residents. How Jan found this place was still a mystery to her.
“May I call you Hermien?” the agent asked. She guessed him to be in his forties; a smart dresser with a short cropped hairstyle and an Afrikaans accent.
“Yes you may, and this is Sascia and Jeroen. We are all very keen to get out for a drive. Have you found some houses for us to look at?”
“Several, but some owners were not home, so I will have to go back to the office to phone them again after we have seen two listed with us in your price range. Let’s go.”
He took Jeroen by the hand and told him that he had a boy around the same age. His car a dark blue Opel Rekord was nice and big compared to their Beetle. She noticed that here was no cigarette smell inside and everything looked spotless. He was clearly not a smoker, so she would not light a cigarette.
“The first home we are going to see has just come on the market. It has three bedrooms, a lounge and dining room, a separate kitchen a playroom and one bathroom.”
“Oh that reminds me. Jan hoped to buy a home that has a separate shower.”
Three weeks went by
“I can’t believe that you have not seen any home we could settle for.” Jan remarked at breakfast on the balcony.
“Not any with a separate shower and most were ugly. “
Nothing had inspired her in the slightest. There was only one suburb called Walmer which she liked. It had big trees and was near town and it reminded her of Malvern and Berea, the suburb she often drove through in Durban. Sadly most of the homes in this suburb were out of their price range.
“Well I hope that this weekend we are luckier. “
It was Friday and Jan seems to be settling into his work. There were no ore ships in the harbour at that time, so after he had completed his paper work at the office he seemed to be able to take the rest of the day off.
She wanted to look for the leather shop he had mentioned before they moved from Durban, but not with Jan. She would have to wait until he would ask her to take him to work one day when he didn’t need the Beetle during the day, but that had not yet happened.
Two agents from different agencies had taken her around when Jan was at work, so some homes she had already seen when the smartly dressed agent drove them around again, this time with Jan.
In Rowallan Park, a suburb on the outskirts of town, they stopped before a house that looked slightly familiar, but she wasn’t sure. She had seen so many homes that they were all becoming a blur.
The owners were home; a couple the same age as them with two slightly older children. They seemed very familiar with the agent and they all spoke Afrikaans.
Jan liked the size of the back garden. She then recalled having been shown this house a week previous with a rather pushy agent. She was not sure if she should mention that in front of them all. That seemed rude. She had told her that she was not interested because there was no shower, and also because she had been harassed by the woman who was truly using a sales pitch on her.
Jan was clearly showing keenness and the price was within their reach. She had to admit to herself that she might as well give up on looking for a home that would blow her away.
Sascia and Jeroen were being entertained by the two older children in the back garden. The couple seemed really nice. They had made an offer on a bigger home nearer to town.
Steve, the husband and the agent were friends from their army days. They never used any sales pitch, and Sonja his wife seemed very friendly.
“This was our first home and we have been very happy here, but now that we have our third child on the way, it’s time to move into a bigger home.” Steve explained.
Having a Dejà Vu
Seeing the happy couple and the fact that the woman was expecting her third child made her suddenly feel very sad, as if a sudden depressing dark cloud had descended upon her. The emotional pain from when she had instigated having a miscarriage in Australia, preventing her having a third child, hit her like a dagger in her solar plexus. At the time she just couldn’t face Jan’s rejection of her pregnancy and all the nasty remarks that went with it.
“Mommy what’s wrong?” Sascia whispered
Her little girl made her snap out of her reminiscing mood. She gave her a big hug and smiled, asking Sonja when her baby was due. Jan was chatting to Jaap and the agent and on the way back to the car she overheard him in the front discussing what their next move was going to be without having asked her what she thought of the house.
Inwardly she was livid, but it was not because of the house, it was more that Jan never took her opinions into account. Back at the guest house she expressed her annoyance when the children were playing in their bedroom.
“You said to me that you wanted a shower, and you now told them you want to buy this house, without even consulting me. And it has no shower.”
“Oh, I thought you liked the house.”
“What gave you that idea?”
While sucking on his pipe he replied “Just the way you were chatting with the woman, and you have to admit it has a nice big back garden, and we can always add a shower. “
“Most houses I’ve seen have large gardens.”
“OK, I will tell the agent that you have changed your mind.”
“That is not true. It seems that in this country men seem to think that women have no say in these matters. It must be an Afrikaans way!” she stormed out of their apartment and walked to the shop around the corner to cool off. At that moment she had a weird feeling; as if this had happened before – their argument, the garden of the house and her reactive behavior. How strange.
Have you ever purchased Tandy Leather Tools?
Port Elizabeth leather
After seeing several more homes with different estate agents she had to admit that the house in Rowallan Park was the best for the price. There was one old double story home in Walmer that attracted her a lot, but it was seven thousand Rand more, and Jan was not all that impressed. It needed a lot of fixing up.
“Forget it. I’m not buying a home that needs a lot of work to it and also pay more than we can afford.”
“But Walmer is a good suburb, and when we fix it up it will double in price!”
Jan was clearly not seeing the potential that she did, so there was no point arguing over it. Jan contacted the agent again and he went to fill in the paper work. They did not need her because she was not the breadwinner. That made her feel second rate once again, but she kept that to herself. Instead she drove the Beetle to an address where they sold leather while she left Jan with the children at the Estate Agent‘s office. She wanted some time on her own.
The smell of leather at the Port Elizabeth leather shop transformed her mood. The shop was a lot bigger than the one in Durban and at the back there was a special section where she saw many magazines from Tandy, the leather craft company from the U.S.A. that held great projects. One came with a free template with detailed step by step instructions.
“Can I help you?” A middle-aged European man who seemed to be the owner asked.
She told him that she just arrived from Durban and that she was looking for all her leather craft needs.
“Then you have come to the right place. We are the only shop in town that caters for leather crafters like you. Please look around and call me when you need help.
The shop also catered for people who kept horses. The leather craft section was small, but there were enough products in terms of tools, books and magazines for her to awaken her creative spirit. Life seemed suddenly a lot brighter and after buying a few magazines she drove back to the Estate Agent feeling a lot happier with the prospect of purchasing their own home.