Tuesday, June 17, 2014

All that is gold does not glitter.

Pietermaritzburg. The longer I am here, the more warnings I am given, the more stories I hear. The story about the couple who stayed in my room for three months, part of the witness protection program, who disappeared overnight.
Don't walk down the road on your own.
Watch out for the skollies on the corner.

 I drive around this beautiful, broken place. There were riches here once. Victorian mansions, row upon row of gingerbread houses with fish scale roof tiles. Everything patched now, and worn. Giant trees with roots pushing up the paving, red dust creeping up the walls.

Litter in front of the Tiger Tiger Club. Bills pasted on the Hustler shop: Safe Abortion, Penis Enlargement. Zulu girls on the corner. Insolent stares and muttered insults.
Stupid Injakazi.
Thievery, skullduggery, monkey business.
Trickery, hoodwinking, jiggery-pokery.

This motley film crew. I live with them for a month and watch from the sidelines. Sometimes I wish I was a bigger woman, a stronger woman. I am bruised from this work - arms, legs, hips and hands. But more than that, I have a threadbare heart. Things have happened here that leave me with a feeling of foreboding and so much sadness at the lack of love in this old world.

Dennis Quaid, when asked by a younger man about the success of his marriage, says: You find the right person to share your foxhole with, and when you're away from your foxhole, you keep your dick in your pants.

But, you know, those are just lines from a movie. We get paid to make that stuff up.

Often I find consolation in the beauty of small things, but sometimes it's just not enough and I feel stupid for trying.

There is a man, a newspaper seller. I passed him one morning before the sun rose, ice on my windscreen. He was dancing up and down to keep warm. But when I caught his eye, he gave me a smile that warms me, even now.
There is the Msunduzi River, the grand old Duzi. I cross it many times a day. Mist over the water at daybreak. A tree full of white birds.

There is a couple in their seventies, on a farm we've been shooting at - the gentleness, the tenderness between them.
There's the mystery insect that starts up at night - the one that sounds like a rusty old wind pump.
There's that full honey moon coming up through the plane trees, over a fire in a wheelbarrow.

Fever trees scraping the sky.

There's Mr Love at the Howick Falls, who sings for his supper.
He works the little cardboard man with a foot pedal and the little man dances.
There's the sweet pixie girl who brought me tiny silver egg spoons, tied with a raffia twist.
There's the madcap woman whom I met by chance, who helped me to find my parth, who took me shopping and gave me a pair of rainbow coloured mittens, hand knitted, while she sat talking.

Another chance meeting led me to the only record collector in town. His golden labrador laid her head on my thigh
and followed me until I left.
Stay in a place long enough and you will find treasures.

But I'm so homesick it hurts.