Did Fiona come back? What about Servaas? And what happened to Fiona’s singing career?
Gertruida often says Life isn’t a fairytale, and she’s right (as usual). We all dream – hope – of happy endings and tear-streaked smiling faces when the curtains close and the final applause fills the theatre – but Life often resembles a tragedy rather than anything else. Hope and disappointment combine to create the mosaic-like cycle of seasons that colour our lives with joy and despair. And because we tend to camp down when finding ourselves in a bad spot, the winter seasons sometimes seem endless.
Fiona almost completely escaped her winter. Dr Atlas – recently divorced and already on the prowl – had a torrent but short-lived affair with his patient. She left him heartbroken and devastated when she found out she was but one of a number of ladies in his life. While the good doctor failed to see why she had a problem with his lifestyle, Fiona worked through her disappointment by practicing even harder.
She was accepted – for a short while – in La Scala’s choir group, before tackling smaller solo roles in various operas. Her voice never returned to its former clarity, however, and few people really remembered her amongst the plethora of great singers the world had produced during her absence. She’s still touring Europe and hopes to return to Rolbos one day.
Fiona and Servaas still write to each other. She tells him of the cities and theatres; he writes about his loneliness. It is doubtful whether they really understand what the other one had written. Fiona, you see, has found a new prison. She does not want to leave the opera world because she still believes the audiences come to see her, specifically. Even if her name now appears in small print on the programme, it is there, nonetheless.
Servaas, on the other hand, toned his letters down. He no longer tells her he wants her to come back – or that he wishes she could spend time with him. Initially his letters were heart-wrenching in their honesty until he realised he’d never replace the feeling – even the need – of her new life. Nowadays he writes back less frequently, mentioning the drought, the pothole in Voortrekker Weg and the antics of Vrede.
Ouma finished the building of the new guest house, which turned out to be a bit of a white elephant. Standing empty for most of the year, Ouma makes ends meet with weddings. Country weddings have become increasingly popular, which allows Ouma to eke out a living.
The legal firm that handled Fiona’s affairs went bankrupt after the one partner used trust funds to speculate with Forex. Fiona’s small fortune was almost completely wiped out, leaving her almost-poor if not destitute.
So, what did this all mean to Rolbos?
Not much, truth be told. Oh they had a story to tell during the cold winter nights when the conversation dwindled into silence. Precilla and Fanny would cheer Servaas up on such occasions, telling him he’s a real gentleman and that one day – he’ll see – he’ll meet the Right One. He usually manages a wintry smile when they do that.
Vrede misses the sad, voiceless woman he met out there in the street on that hot summer’s day. Was she not the reason he got biltong? And if she came back, would he not expect more? Of course. In his doggy-brain the logic of such a possibility is all too clear. He is arguably still her biggest fan. It is true, however, he liked her more before she got her voice back. If the humans knew what he was thinking, they’d think him strange: a voiceless singer better than the vocal one? Then again, dogs have a deeper understanding of human nature than we give them credit for…
But it is late at night, when the town is fast asleep, that Servaas digs out the books Fiona had scribbled in. The verses, the poems, the paragraphs gets read over and over again. He’ll close his eyes to see her next to him: pale, uncertain, mute. He’d read the need in those eyes and feel young again. Oh, don’t be fooled! It’s not a sexual thing at all! It simply reminds him that for a little while he felt like a man again – because she needed him. It’s the oldest attraction in the world: the knight in shining armour and the damsel in distress. Mind you, in the modern era the damsels have become experts at the Broken Wing Syndrome, which turns out to be the downfall of many a would-be and well-meaning rescuer. Despite this, the allure of the whisper of love will be the beacon, the Siren, that causes so many men and women lose their way in in the stormy seas of Romance.
And so, late at night, Servaas dreams about a perfect love, one shared and kindled with gentle hands, gentle emotion. About the almost-impossible dream harboured in millions of sad hearts when the darkness of loneliness creeps up in the quiet hours. About love given, love taken and returned tenfold. About that special smile on waking up and the gentle hug accompanying the morning coffee. About trust and loyalty and respect – and old-school, child-like affection and kindness. About an infantile dream that turns into a nightmare all too many times.
And like the rest of us – well, almost all of the rest of us – he’ll drift into a restless slumber, wondering: what if? The reason? Simply this: the whisper won’t go away…
Lips are silent,
shows it clearly.
Now I know, it’s so, it’s so,
you love me!
At each step of the waltz,
my soul joins in the dance,
my eager heart leaps,
knocks, and pounds:
be mine, be mine!
And my lips say no word,
yet still it echoes on and on:
I love you, oh, so much,
I love you!
Hanna and Danilo:
shows it clearly,
now I know
it’s so, it’s so,
you love me!