It’s rainy and cold,in Burgersdorp,in the Eastern Cape,South Africa.Our Autumns,is really vèry cold and for me,it’s as good as winter,in this area called the “Klein Karoo” It usually starts around the end of February,middle of March,but thìs year,we were still wearing t’s and shorts,until Saterday.Of course,this late(actually on time)”winter”most probably predict heavy snowfall and extreme cold temperatures.The much needed rain,only accumulates to it.Feeling so cold,the dogs not liking this weather(Mam’s boy dogs)and the lock down, due to the Covert 19 Virus,isn’t exactly contributing,to my already depressed mood.So I can’t be blamed,if I take a walk back in time,to my childhood days…to the icy cold winters and the miserable life I had,as a child…..
My parents started out wrong,by having me,being born in the winter…middle of June!!!I grew up with parents,rather having nice binge drinking weekends,than worry about my material needs…not that I rèàlly can remember many good times,of back then.This specific story,plays of in an icy cold winter.
We had a coal and wood stove and this was were we mostly spent,our winter’s nights.It was the only warm room in the house.You mùst remember,that except for the fact,that we were poor,none of us in South Africa,had any of the privileges,we know ànd most probably have,today.No heaters or heating systems.No Air conditioner systems.No warm blankets,or wall and roof insolation.Fashion didn’t exist in most households,especially in the poor area,we lived in and especially not in our house.I had to be happy,with the hand me downs,from the neighborhood’s older children and that was anything fashionable.I never had a school blazer,in Primary school and the thin jerseys,we were allowed to wear to school,didn’t keep the cold outside.
I would lie in my bed,as long as possible,to try and build up some courage,to get dressed in that cold school dress,socks and thin jersey.The icy wind,blowing outside,made me shiver….I felt so helpless!!I hàd to go to school… I hàd to get up and get dressed.Mother will be combing my hair,to untangle it,because I wasn’t allowed,to sleep with a elastic band in my hair,going to bed,as it would break my hair.Each and every morning,I’d try not to cry,because if I cry, mother would slap me,anywhere she could reach….sometimes against my head,or on my back and she’d pulled my hair,because I didn’t sit still enough for her….this behind me at làst,I knew what was waiting,for me,next.
My school was only a street block away,but that block’s length,had about 12 houses before I turn the corner and another 2 houses,before I can cross the street,at the prefect’s pedestrian crossing.Sometimes,they can be spiteful and let you stand in the que,to cross the street much longer, than really needed.The icy wind would cut into my skin and sometimes my hands and feet were cracked,called winter’s feet and hands.I would try to stick my hands,on the inside of my jersey,but the jersey was too thin and the wind,way too cold and strong.My hands burned like fire,where the wind got to the cracks in my hands.
We didn’t have a geyser,or even a donkey,to heat water.Mother boiled water on the stove and us children had to take turns,to wash in a big zink tub,in front of the stove.
As I already mentioned,in my other posts,weekends were my worst nightmare.We’d play in the rain and build play mud houses and tunnels,using the bridge of our feet,as molds.This is where the cracks on my heels and top of my feet would begin.Come Sunday night, was something,I wished I never had to relive,each Sunday night.When it was time to wash up,I knew what awaited me and I would start to cry already.The hot water burned into the cracks and I couldn’t stand still.Because of her short temper with me,she’d easily slap my on my naked wet thy or bum.I couldn’t decide which hurt more.As my body takes in the heat,of the hot water,I began to enjoy the heat….shortlived!!Now it was time,to scrub the cracks,with a brush and soap.Again I cried and again,she’d slap me.Just as the pain subsides,it was time to get out and the last of my agony would begin.The cracks were rubbed in,with white cobra floor polish,that contained paraffin.It burned like a scorching hot fire!!!I’m sure the neighbors heard my cries,each and every night,but nobody ever investigated….
It was time to get up,from in front of the stove and go to bed…..Our room was on the South side and hardly ever saw any sun and even less,in the winter.I shivered,as I slide under the blankets,in that icy cold bed.I didn’t know how to lie,or which way to turn,to get some heat in my bed and I hoped to fall asleep,before my body feels the cold………
So we had lovely rain and some heavy snow,in a few surrounding towns.It was so cold….really icy cold…
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