The Self Employed Housewife - A Seaman's Wife's story Ch 2
The Self Employed Housewife
Weeks went past
She found the evenings difficult. Sascia, her five year old took a lot longer to doze off, but the soft music from the small radio she had placed on the top step of the stairs to their first floor bedroom had finally overpowered the sound of the howling wind. It had done the trick, she was finally free to creep downstairs.
After seven thirty her routine was to first listen to her two radio soaps. She missed having no TV. They were spoiled by the TV in Australia and after returning four years later to Holland, they also had changed over to a color TV. Now she had to do without.
Sadly she couldn’t work at her leather craft in the evenings, unless from the garage, but only until around nine otherwise she would get into trouble with the neighbours. Her hammering away punching the pattern stamps into the wet leather made too much noise. At least she had a lot more time reading. Her English was not yet all that fluent, but she was determined to improve her vocabulary, so she could take on more intellectual books. The Mills and Boon type stories became too boring but following a crime plot was still a challenge. Next on her reading list was King Soloman’s Mines by Rider Haggard.
Stories about central Africa had fascinated her ever since her mother told stories about grandfather having met with both Stanley and Livingstone.
Her daydream worlds between worlds
Her Dutch friend Debbie from next door had swopped some music tapes with her. They both loved Shirley Bassey and their favourite song by her, love story. While listening she wondered what Jan was doing. His taste in music was very different. He liked listening to marches, or Dutch band music.
Shirley Bassey’s music triggered memories due to the soulful tune. It made her sway in sympathy. For a few split seconds she was somewhere else away from her body…
Gosh what just happened, had she dozed off?
“Memories fade with time, and ignorance replaces it. “a voice in her head said.
She had no idea where that came from but the other ‘her’ replied; “Well, once the distance has grown long enough any event can be seen as favorable.” Had she heard her own voice just now? Those words couldn’t be hers.
Talking to herself was a family trait; her dad did it as well. Having a conversation with herself was rather embarrassing if someone overheard her and ask who she was talking to. The truth was that she found her own conversations with herself often far more interesting.
From the corner of her eye she thought she saw a movement in the back garden. That was creepy with no curtains. She turned off the light and peeked out with her nose against the glass.
Was someone outside observing her?
It was full moon. Her small back garden, which was still rather bare, stopped at the wire fence. Behind the fence the landscape was carpeted by long dark grass which rippled in giant waves as the strong wind through the trees gusted down. Far away the large old house was nestled in a shallow dip in the ground; a lovely old place whose walls were all crumbling stone quarried out of the large property. The overhanging thatch roof gave it a delightful unity with nature.
The land of the townhouse complex, still partly under construction, originally belonged to the estate of the large house called Palm Springs. She could just imagine the stories of the people who used to live there. Now it was empty and would soon be demolished. How sad.
She must have imagined it. There was nobody there.
The spaghetti sauce and noodles she had prepared in case Jan came home the next day had now cooled off ready to be stored it in the cool box with ice blocks. Being without a fridge in Durban’s tropical climate was a handicap. It was still early, just after ten, but snuggling up in her own bed upstairs with the radio and her book felt more private. After taking a peep into the children’s room, she tiptoed to her own bedroom. The mattress on the floor and her lamp next to it on the floor was all there was in the way of furniture.
Daddy was coming home
Sascia was gazing at her from the mat on the vinyl tiled floor on the other side of the open plan lounge, dining room. She'd drawn her knees up under her chin, sulking. Her expression made her feel guilty. Gosh she had been so engrossed in working out how to carve a sunset and a palm tree into the flap part of the handbag that time had disappeared.
“OK Moppie I'll stop. Let’s get ready to go.”
Last night before going to sleep she had managed to find the short wave on her little radio. It had taken a long time of tuning back and forth. It had been a pure fluke that she heard the name of the tanker that Jan was on. The conversations between the captain and the harbor master confirmed their arrival late in the afternoon the next day.
During breakfast she could no longer keep it a secret and told them that they were going to see daddy. The transformation on their faces caused a lump in her throat. Sascia didn’t want to go to school. Instead she placed all her dolls and teddy bears in a row on her hand-made couch. Jeroen as usual played along, adding his toys to the arrangement. Going back to her leather work had clearly upset Sascia big time.
“Remember that I must still make a phone call before we take a taxi, just to make sure the ship is arriving. You both know that it might not be allowed into the harbor.”
“Why is that mummy?”
She explained that there might not be a berth, like when daddy had looked in vain for parking near the shops in Croydon, Australia.
“Can you remember that? “she asked. Sascia nodded her head and replied “But daddy always found parking”
Would Jan be keen to see them?
The children were totally convinced that their daddy would come home that night. She hoped Jan was sensitive enough to pick up how much they had missed him. She was looking forward to seeing him, but also somewhat apprehensive what he would say about their rented accommodation. He would complain about the rent; that she was sure of.
“Are both your bags packed?”
Jeroen was quietly sitting on his mat playing with Lego. He had better not take the pieces along, because they would soon get lost and far too expensive to replace. The Lego toys were a gift from her sister back in Holland.
Each had a smallish ruck sack for their favorite toys, some sweeties and another little treat to compensate for their disappointment when daddy didn’t come home as expected two days previously. She had spotted the bags in a toyshop near town close to the saddlers. It had inspired her to copy the design. One day she would make a similar bag out of leather with carving on the pockets.
“Mommy can I take my school book?” Sascia was jumping up and down with excitement while Jeroen ran upstairs to get his dad’s uniform cap.
“Good idea, then we can practice reading if we have to wait for the ship to dock. Remember that I have explained that we might not be able to get on board.”
“But daddy will see us waving?”
She was not so sure about that, knowing more or less the procedure, being a captain’s daughter herself.
“I will show daddy that I can read”...her little girl screeched from delight. Not that she was really reading the words. She had memorized them.
The paper from the weekend was still lying on the kitchen table, open on the page where she had encircled the advert of the Beetle that was for sale at R600. She knew there was just enough money in their bank account and she was soon getting paid a hefty sum for the 200 belts, after they had been finished and delivered.
Connie’s husband Jim had given her a deadline of four weeks to deliver all 200 belts. So far she had only finished thirty. Two weeks to go.
She heard a car stop near their front gate. It must be the taxi she had booked yesterday from the phone booth in Malvern.
“Yippy we are taking a taxi.”
“Yes, Moppie.” What she didn’t tell them was that she needed to buy more belt straps to work on her large belt order.
“Come let’s go. Jeroen no lego, we talked about it, remember?” Sascia helped her brother to pack Jan’s uniform cap and whispered something to him. He seemed to agree because he nodded.
Her pride and joy
Jeroen was a very quiet and shy child. Not at all like his sister who could already hold a conversation. She knew that she was overprotective of Jeroen, since he was sickly. To think that she almost lost him on the passenger liner back to Holland from Australia still gave her the shivers. His body temperature had risen really high, well past the safety level. The ship’s doctor had shown great worry. He was kept in the sickbay for 4 days. He seemed fine now. Nobody knew why Jeroen would suddenly get these high temperatures.
She hugged them both before they got into the taxi, and never wanted to be without them no matter what. Jeroen was such a pretty little boy. His huge blue eyes and long eyelashes to die for had won him a prize for the baby with the longest eyelashes competition.
Before his second birthday she had entered him into a baby show in Melbourne. It had been a spur of the moment thing. She happened to be in Meyers, the biggest departmental store of the southern hemisphere when the baby competition banner attracted her attention. She had worked for them until she fell pregnant with Jeroen.
Sascia understood that they might have to wait before being allowed on board after she had told them stories of her own childhood when her dad would come home from his long sea trips; of how she and her sister had also missed him.
She’s never thought she’d become a seaman’s wife, but deep inside she already knew that she loved the freedom not to have to ask for everything before making a decision. Her mom had brought them up without a man around and so could she.