The Self-employed Housewife: A Seaman's Wife's Story Ch 22
The Hobbies fair
Winter in Port Elizabeth was not her favorite time of the year, but being actively busy in the large Feather Market Hall, painting wooden planks on a roll of blank newspaper made her break out into a sweat. Jan had managed to secure the log cabin frame and many people were watching what she was doing. Her counter was installed and the rest was up to her.
Most stall holders were finished early and went home to be back at nine in the morning for the opening, but not her. She was allowed to finish her display until after ten O’clock, because some stall holders came late to set up.
The next morning the kids were excited to see what her stand looked like, and Jan would come a bit later after first going to the office. When she walked into the hall, she knew she had pulled it off.
Several people gave great comments and her children were truly proud to be at her log cabin. Her leather-work was displayed all over both inside and at the front. Visitors were keen to walk in and within the hour she had already sold several bags and belts.
“Well well, wow, you managed to make it look like a log cabin after all!” Jan said with a clearly surprised tone.” He had left her the previous afternoon when nothing had yet been finished. It was at that moment that the loudspeaker called out her name.
Earning her first award
The moment she walked onto the stage to receive her cup for the best stand at the Hobbies Fair her nerves triggered her full bladder into an overflow mode. The wet feeling down her stockings, no matter how hard she tried to stop it was highly embarrassing, especially since she was expected to give a speech in front of the whole hall full of people.
The moment she was allowed to get off the stage the dashed to the loo. Thank goodness she was wearing a longish skirt because it was a cold winter’s day and she could take her stockings off and get cleaned up. She walked back to her stall and fortunately nobody noticed anything wrong. Jan and Sascia were helping out and they were glad to see her. The silver cup was proudly displayed on her counter.
“Several people wanted an interview. Where did you disappear to?” Jan asked. When she quietly told him what had happened he laughed.
“Do you think people saw it?” She whispered.
“Turn around.” He asked with a grin.She hoped there were no marks on her plain cream skirt. “Everything looks okay. You had better take over here. I’ve sold quite a few things that had a price.”
Reaching the front page of the Herald
The show lasted for several days, and her sales were the best she had ever experienced. The kids were proud to see their mother on the front page of the newspaper and many people congratulated her during the show. She was really happy that her persistence to go the extra mile had been worth it, but one creepy incident was nerve-wracking.
When they arrived home after the first day of the show, Sascia answered the phone and only heard the sound of someone breathing. She grabbed the phone from her, a creepy male voice described her in detail. It gave her a fright that her child had been exposed to this creep. The fact that this creep knew where she lived and had her phone number was truly unsettling. Somebody on the show had been watching her and the following evening he phoned her again telling her what she had been wearing that day.
At the request of Jan two of their male friends joined them to be on the lookout during the rest of the show. They never caught him, but on the last day she had a feeling about one guy, that it was him. When she confronted the man he ran away. They never heard from him again.
When everything was back to normal she answered the phone one morning and a lady’s voice introduced herself as the principle of the art college in Russell road. It was the first time she had heard of this college and wondered what they wanted from her.
“Are you interested in a teaching post?” A very sophisticated voice asked.
“Me, but I have no art teaching degree” was her response.
“We are looking for someone who is willing to give leather classes in the evening for adults and for two afternoons a week as an after school curriculum course. I heard about you in the paper and we feel you are qualified.”
She was totally dumbstruck. Had she just been offered a part-time job? Had she heard that correctly?
“Can we make an appointment and go over the details” the woman asked. They made a date for the following week. For the rest of the day she was in a state of euphoria. When she told Jan he was very pleased.
“You must take it. It’s a government school and they pay well.” She had never once thought about the payments. For her it was more of an honor to be asked.
Summer had fully arrived and her routine got into a regular rhythm, giving two leather craft morning classes for adults, two classes on the same day in the afternoon mainly for after school students and two evening classes for working people who wanted to take up a hobby. During those two days Jan took care of the children and when he was at work they could go to a friend’s house until she came home. She had less time to do her own leather work, but her gemstone carving every Saturday morning was still on.
She had started carving a chessboard from Verdite and Soapstone. So far she had carved a few frogs to be the pawns and the queen was carved in soapstone. It took her twenty minutes to drive to the club house where members could cut and polished stones. One Saturday she found a note on the closed door stating that the power had been cut off due to non-payment of the electricity bill. She was disappointed and on her return home she decided to persuade Jan to take the family for a lunch time picnic on the beach at Schoenmaker’s Kop.
Through the kitchen window she saw the children playing in the back garden and shouting at the neighbor’s two kids through the fence. This time she was relieved that their new neighbor, a rather loud common type, was not visiting. She truly started to dislike her and wondered why she always was chatting to Jan every Saturday at lunchtime.
She knew that Jan was home because his car was parked in the driveway. She heard noises coming from their bedroom which she realized must be Jan, so she entered the room to suggest her picnic idea. When she opened their bedroom door, she saw two people behind the bed jumping away from each other. A sharp pain in her solar plexus made her freeze stone cold. How could he do this, especially in their own bedroom? Jan and the trashy neighbor were clearly not expecting her home that early.
She was about to slam the bedroom door on them, to make sure that the kids would never know what their dad had been up to, when Jan caught the door.. She was sure Sascia didn’t know, otherwise she would have picked it up.
Jan followed her into the passage saying. “It meant nothing really.” The woman followed her into the lounge saying; “Please do not tell my husband, we were just having a friendly chat. Nothing happened.” Her disgust must have been written on her face. “Never set one foot into this home ever, or I will tell him.” She hissed.
A month later they moved away and the new owners were very different people.
Lately she had been reading all the volumes of The Teachers of the Far East, and the books by Napoleon Hill had also changed her outlook on life. She had put Jan’s flirting episode behind her knowing that the woman must have instigated the affair, if there ever was one. Jan had claimed in his defense that his wife didn’t fulfill his need for sex, otherwise he wouldn’t have been so intoxicated by her sexual advances, so it was her fault and that was that.
Her books and what she learned from them kept her from walking out. What could she do? She didn’t earn enough to leave him and it would hurt the children.
Time went by and soon the whole unpleasant episode became a memory to be forgotten. Jan didn’t like her esoteric interest and occasionally invited a Jehovah witness into the house when they came knocking on the front door. All she liked about their pamphlets were the idyllic pictures. They were so full of joy, almost too good to be true. She had her stomach full hearing about how Jesus would save them, but she knew that Jan deliberately invited them, wanting her to be triggered by their preaching. He was not really interested. He was just being spiteful.
The Diary of a Foreigner
Every morning she wrote in her diary what had happened to her the previous day. She had started that routine even if it was just three lines.
It was after eight, and she had just dropped the children off at school, because it was raining. Jan had gone to work...
She was about to light her first cigarette for the day, when she heard a voice saying: “A drastic change in lifestyle is in order.”
She got up to see if the radio was on, but it was not, and just to be sure she moved the long curtains aside, grinning at her own silly behavior.
Had she truly just heard that someone was talking to her? She was sure she was totally alone in the house. It did feel as if someone was looking at her, but she shrugged it off,
“I told you, you must stop that, or you will not grow?” again she heard the words spoken out loud.
In stunned silence she sat down again looking at the cigarette she was about to light.
“Who are you? Where are you?” she asked. Did she suddenly hear voices?
“You know who I am. You know better.” replied a male voice in a somewhat dictatorial impatient tone.
“I have no idea what you mean by....oh I must stop smoking, is that it?” as she replied out loud to the disembodied voice while shaking all over. She knew that smoking was the one thing she had in common with Jan who smoked a pipe.
Her gooseflesh feeling almost took her away from herself and the eery silence that followed made her snap out of something, she was not sure what. Had she been dreaming while being awake at the same time? She still had her cigarette in her hand, considering how she was going to stop smoking.
Instantly a flash came to mind... as if she had been told to imagine something that would make her puke the moment she put a cigarette in her mouth.
She jumped up and paced up and down saying to whoever it was. “Really, is that what I must do? What did you mean, I will not grow? I’m not all interested in growing any bigger.”
Hearing herself talking out loud was not all that strange. She often talked to herself but, was she talking to someone? At that moment it felt as if she had been rebuked for being in denial of something.
She took the cigarette; put it into her mouth and instantly she gagged as if she was swallowing someone’s sputum. Vivid images of greenish looking slime from PT dishes came to mind. Years ago she used to deliver these to the laboratories three stories up in the lift at the hospital where she had been trained as a nurse in Utrecht.
She truly felt nauseated at the very thought. Wow! That worked! No way would she ever smoke again. Never!
She got up and went to fetch the carton that held 20 packets of cigarettes and broke them all up into the outside braai. Done.
Suddenly all she wanted to do was to sleep, as if...Gosh had she truly heard somebody in the lounge speaking to her?...
She curled up on the couch and prayed for proof ...that she had not suddenly gone crazy... it was at that moment that her life flashed before her, as if she was watching a movie...her past and future all molded into one...as if ...she now grasped what Lopsang Rampa meant by being a walk-in. They all were; everyone!
Walk-in : “Original soul leaves when it has fulfilled what it came here to do, and the same body is used again for a more awakened soul to fulfill their purpose on earth.”
Book two – a message from the future
Living in the third dimension
“Mommy are you okay?” she heard.
“Mommy why are you sleeping in the lounge?” the little girl’s quivering voice whispered close to her ear.
The gooseflesh all over her whole body felt as if she had been far away, but the ringing in her ears told her otherwise.
“Sascia, why are you home from school?”
“School is finished. I walked home.”
With some difficulty she sat up, leaning against the backrest of the couch. Her surprise at seeing both her children staring at her with big eyes made her smile. If it was not from the nausea, and her aching body, as if she had been flattened by a steamroller, she would have got up, but her head was spinning.
“Mommy fell asleep. What time is it?”
“Lunch time,” Jeroen said
“When did you get home Jeroen?” His class came out at twelve while Sascia’s finished at two O clock.
“Jeroen was playing outside with the dog from next door when I came home.” I first rang the bell but the front door was not locked.” Sascia replied sounding all grown up.
Gosh why did she have a feeling that she had been away? Away from her life. Away from whom she was?
“Mommy are you sick?” .......