Thursday, 10 November 2011

Cosmetic change

At four o’ clock (in the morning), the phone rings. It is not our phone, it is the phone that belongs to one of the maids. She has forgotten to take it with her. The man who employs her on Tuesday and Friday was supposed to come and collect it for her. But he didn’t.
I sigh. Because I knew this would happen. Therefore I wanted to drop the phone off at the other address myself. But I lost the debate with my husband, who gave me concise reason not to.

J: It's an old retired man who has nothing on his hands all day. He will do it.
Me: It's a grumpy old conservative man. He will never collect a cellphone that belongs to his maid.
J: He will.
I: He won’t.
J: He will.
I: He won’t.
J: He will.
I: No, he won’t. And than I sigh followed by: Whatever.

I sigh so much here in South Africa, that I sometimes think that this sighing thing replaces normal breathing. And that others notice this.
‘Why are you sighing all the time’, I imagine they are thinking.
But I can’t help it. I suppose it’s ‘the new way of breathing’.
Firstly the trend was ‘the new herring’.
And then suddenly ‘the new 30’ popped up. According to everyone between 39 and 44 years old, 40 IS the new 30. This  is of course one viewpoint. My Dutch spellchecker constantly changes "kutterdekut” (fuckerdefuck) to literatuur (literature) when I type the word in. I find that funny in a way, but I do not think fuckerdefuck IS the latest literary catch-phrase. Even if my spellchecker keeps on telling me that it is the catch-phrase, I see clearly that it isn’t. You can try all sorts of things to change this. You could apply cosmetic changes, shout out - preferably all together - that this is the new reality (really!), but eventually this will only increase our level of irritation, however not the credibility.
And so the only remedy is: sighing acceptance.
Furthermore, I sigh because it's hot, because the children will insist on fighting till the house seems to small, and I sigh when I stand up. Which in fact has everything to do with the aging proces. Everything is related to everything you know. Soon you start thinking that this is because of mysterious forces.
But that would just be a way to explain it. Hello?! It's just the pull of gravity. And I realise that I can rid myself of the habit of sighing.

Anyway, I say 'Whatever', and I do nothing. Well, I do do one thing and it is: getting angry wit J. Perhaps this is to do with the cellphone issue, perhaps it’s unresolved or ‘in the air’. That you look up at the stars, you see the Southern Cross and you can only think: If you don’t concur with me now, I'll hit you on your head with that damn cross. But it doesn’t make any sense at all, for it is early in the morning and there’s not a single star up in the sky.

So, I say to the maid:
"You know what happened? Your phone rang at about four o’ clock in the morning.”
You try to be calm and collected. Because honestly, who wants to be woken up by a telephone at any time, let alone by someone else’s phone at four o’clock in the morning?!
"No ma'am, that's my alarm."
"That early?"
"Yes, I have to boil water for my bath, prepare lunch bags for the kids, wake the kids up (two of her own, one of her sister’s who passed away a few years ago) and than at five o’clock I leave."
"Aha", I sigh. Because the idea alone tires me out.  

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