Baked beans under the Christmas tree?


Baked beans under the Christmas tree?

Nothing is what it used to be, JAN WOLMARANS tells his Dad in heaven. We have to burn candles all year round and our gift from the government is electric light.


I HOPE things are going better up there in heaven with you than down here with us and that at least the angels don't sing Christmas carols all day and all night, because even thanks and praise are more of an advertisement here with us these days than a feeling.

I am only writing to you and you please have to tell Mum, otherwise she asks a lot of questions in my prayers and my dreams are already very full before Christmas.

Dad, groceries are now Christmas presents here and a box full of canned food, flour and longlife milk is worth much more than a tie, socks, goodies or a holiday. To visit family on a Sunday afternoon and take something with you for the fire, for the table and for the glass now costs the same as a whole three-week seaside holiday with petrol, presents and everything else in 1994. Only without the lamb or bottled wine.

Lees hierdie artikel in Afrikaans:

Box wine is our national symbol now and mieliepap is our staple food once more.

Our national fish has always been the galjoen, but now it's jars of scarce fish paste. Our national flower is the dagga leaf, and while the secretary bird was our country's highest bird species, it's now any man bringing home a salary. That's what Hartlie says, but Dad knows how provocative my dear old wife likes to be.

We just try to keep going. I keep my mouth shut and prefer to write to Dad when things bother me.

With matric, you can now get a job here as a smuggler, with a degree you can drive a taxi and with a scholarship you can complete your Unisa full-time studies in fraud from home. None of the people there can spell, count or work, but all are professors of pretty much fuck all.

Long story short, I don't know if you still get RSG up there. Here, it is now called “ieriesgie” in the colloquial Cape language. Nothing wrong with that. Only, Hartlie doesn't like it at all, she's an old-fashioned kind of perfectionist.

She drives me crazy with all her complaints.

Anyway, I hope you still know what truth is up there in heaven, because here with us everything is a mystery within an enigma in a contract with a municipality whose machines are always down. And now at Christmas time, everyone is out with long spears at the Spur. Everyone's hair is done up or clean shaven in giving thanks for everything.

Dad, if you chance to run into old Abraham up there, the one who wanted to sacrifice his son, ask him why he didn't drag either of his other two sons to the altar. Hartlie wants to know; she says the old lecher's two sons by two different women are the progenitors of all the strife in the Holy Lands. I don't know.

Now I'm just wondering: are the rest of us unholy lands, Dad? And I worry about what holy is or should have been. I don't know. Looks like war is, like Christmas, just a money-making racket by desert wanderers who don't even believe in anything. You can probably see it better from up there.

Tell Mom that during the festive season we are all adapting the tables according to the purse and that nothing is sacred any more, because today's women make ginger beer from old Lennon's Jamaica Ginger; leg of mutton now costs the income of three months' maternity leave; and women nowadays bake milk tarts with Cremora. It's terrible. Do such unholy creatures ever reach heaven, Dad?

Please see if there is a loose angel running around somewhere that Dad can send to keep an eye on Hartlie. She now gives names to our Christmas roosters and she can't pronounce them well herself. It's Charlene and Charlize and Charmaine and Charné; one would swear the hens were all hatched in Benoni.

But Dad, wait, Boney M are singing so blaringly loud that the lambs are coming from all over the fields and whining so much that we have to give each other Grandpa powders as a starter at the braai.

Nothing is what it used to be and we burn candles in the evening all year round, but our Christmas present from the government is electric light.



♦ VWB ♦

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