Oudoom reckons love is like a fountain in the desert, there to supply refreshment for the thirsty traveller. But, he says, if you’re not in the desert, you won’t find it. And, he says, preferably you must get lost beforehand – then the discovery is not only so sweetly unexpected, but also hugely satisfying.
Vetfaan listens to this and mentions the fact that they have a bar right here, so why wander off into the unknown? Upon which Oudoom rolls his eyes heavenward and says that’s the problem with the world these days.
Sammie waited impatiently for Rebecca’s return. The conference was scheduled for three days and when – after five full days – he hadn’t heard from her, he decided to pay Rachel a visit. Rebecca’s mother seemed happy enough to see him – almost apologetic in a way – and told him that Mister Hurwitz phoned to say they’d only be back the following day.
“The old man apparently decided to visit some family on their way back, so naturally she had to comply. He is the boss, you know?”
Sammie left with an uneasy feeling he couldn’t really define.
My dearest Becky
The days have become unbearably long since you left. Tonight, in my uncertainty of how you are and where your journey has taken you, I can only echo the thoughts of Robert Burns:
“The passion of love has need to be productive of much delight; as where it takes thorough possession of the man, it almost unfits him for anything else.
The lover who is certain of an equal return of affection, is surely the happiest of men; but he who is a prey to the horrors of anxiety and dreaded disappointment, is a being whose situation is by no means enviable.
Of this, my present experience gives me much proof.
To me, amusement seems impertinent, and business intrusion, while you alone engross every faculty of my mind.
May I request you to drop me a line, to inform me when I may wait upon you?
For pity’s sake, do; and let me have it soon.”
I can add nothing to the poet’s words – they echo perfectly the yearning I feel tonight.
Rebecca did, indeed, return the next day and Sammie was overjoyed when she dropped in at the shop to say hello. Her enthusiasm and happy smile soon put his fears to rest – Becky was back and that was all that counted. Yes, he’d love to have dinner. Yes he’d want to hear all about her trip. Yes, Becky, anything…
Rachel went to great lengths to prepare a special meal, cooking up venison, yellow rice and sweet potatoes to perfection. Sammie dug into his savings and brought a bottle of champagne. It was an evening for celebration – Becky’s home!
Becky welcomed him with a kiss (in front of her mother!) and seemed keen to chat away about The Palace, the exquisite meals and the exotic rooms. The conference, she said, was most interesting and Mr Hurwitz gave a wonderful keynote address.
“There was time for relaxation as well, you know. I had a swim and Mr Hurwitz’s son invited me to play tennis…”
Her voice dropped a fraction at the last bit, almost as if she hadn’t meant to say that. Sammie noticed the sharp look Sarah shot at her daughter.
“Mr Hurwitz has a son? And he was there, as well?”
Rebecca hesitated, bit her lip and stared at her plate.
“Er…yes. He’s a lawyer too, you know? In Kimberley. Quite successful.” Her sentences were suddenly short as if she didn’t want to say too much.
Sammie picked up that she was uncomfortable and didn’t want to pursue the subject any further. Rachel started talking about Alan Paton, and how Cry, the Beloved Country had touched her.
“Reverend Khumalo is such a tragic figure; such a good man, only wanting the best for his son. “
Sammie remembered a quote by the famous author: “’Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that’s the inheritor of our fear…For fear will rob him if he gives too much.’ He was talking about love, of course. Love for the country, love for others.” He paused, waiting for reaction. There was none.
Later, she walked him out and it was only after she had closed the gate between them, that she said goodnight in an almost-reluctant voice.
“You’re not upset about anything, are you, Becky?”
She shook her hear, the long hair making a halo around her head – a halo, he thought at the time, that didn’t seem appropriate.
Dearest, dearest Becky
We’ve come to know each other rather well over the past few months and I can’t help feeling that something was wrong tonight. It felt like you were distant, and yet you kissed me when I arrived. Were you tired after the trip? Did Mr Hurwitz expect too much of you? Or were my letters too bold, too honest?
Lord Byron wrote to Lady Caroline Lamb:
If all that I have said and done, and am still but too ready to say and do, have not sufficiently proved what my real feelings are and must be ever towards you, my love, I have no other proof to offer.
He also said, and I hesitate to note it here (but I believe it’s true):
Friendship may, and often does, grow into love, but love never subsides into friendship.
So, please, my dearest – tell me what…tell me how…tell me the the thoughts in your heart?
Your ever loving,
I’m not sure why you fret so much. You are my dearest friend, the one I can rely on under any circumstances, the one I can trust beyond trusting. You have shown me so much and have contributed to my new freedom, in which I can be adventurous and happy. No matter what the future brings, I know I can count on you.
That brings me to the matter of Abe – Abraham Hurwitz. You know, Mr Hurwitz’s son? Well, he’s coming to visit his father next week, and Mr Hurwitz expects me to show him around a bit. That’s why I’l have to cancel our dinner date next week…I’m so sorry.
Please don’t be upset with me? Abe is just a friend – nothing more. My boss’s son. How can I refuse?
I promise to make it up to you with our next dinner.
Sammie read and reread that letter. He had found a fountain in the desert – but the water was too salty – just like his tears.
Then, for the first time in his adult life, he cried himself to sleep.