“Just imagine! A world at peace, with love and kindness as the only laws…” Precilla, the eternal romantic, stares deep into Kleinpiet’s eyes. They’re celebrating their anniversary, so Boggel is preparing Gemsbok fillets on the embers for everybody. “Just think how wonderful that would be.”
“Impossible.” Servaas has tried to be cheerful all evening, but this is unadulterated stupidity. The world, according to him, can never be a happy place.
“People have been dreaming of Cythera, the island of Venus – the goddess of love, since ancient times, Precilla.” Gertruida ignores the negative remark. “Watteau even made a famous painting about it. Love, lots of Cupids and a little bit of old-fashioned desire. It caused quite a stir back then.”
“But why? People shouldn’t frown on Love? Isn’t it true that we all search for it, all our lives? Even after you’ve found the love of your life, it remains something that you must work on, every day.” Fanny gives Vetfaan a playful hug, telling him he’s still Number One.
“Nobody frowns on Love, Fanny. The problem is that Love doesn’t always follow the set pattern we imagine it to have.” Boggel sets down the first platter with the steaming steaks on the counter, next to the dinner plates, knives and forks. “We often try to box Love into the size and shape we’d like it to be – and it doesn’t work like that.” He’s thinking of Mary Mitchell, and of course and everybody knows it. The one girl he truly loved…and then lost.
“You mean we try to Samba on a Waltz?” Gertruida, being her old convoluted self.
“Maybe. We come prepared to play our own choice, but the orchestra is off on another tangent. Because it doesn’t fit our picture, we get up and leave. It’s so sad.”
“Harrumph.” When Oudoom clears his throat like this, you remain quiet. “You know why so many couples manage to ruin a perfectly good relationship? It’s because we don’t trust the Conductor, that’s why.
“People forget that He’s in charge – and that He selected you to contribute your music to His composition. Sure – maybe you feel you are not perfect for the situation, but He has His reasons.
“Now, I have to stress that all relationships should be based on Love – but not necessarily the love Hollywood makes movies about. I’m not talking about breathless, sweaty, frantic romping.” He glances over at Mevrou, nods an apology, but feels this point is so important that straying towards a bit of vulgarity is essential to convey his message. “I’m talking about being kind to one another. That, my friends, is Love. I’m thinking about loyalty, respect, commitment. Love isn’t about whispered promises – anybody can do that. Love is what you do – it is something that is shown, not said.”
Surprisingly, Mevrou rubs the clergyman’s slumped shoulders, smiling fondly as she does so.
“I just love arguing with my husband, you all know that. But this time he’s right. It’s about trusting the Conductor. He has a special place in His orchestra for each of us, because He knows what we can contribute to the bigger picture. He wants the music to be perfect – and if you don’t do your bit, the entire orchestra delivers an incomplete rendition.”
“That’s why Cythera isn’t an island any more. Cythera can be the world we live in..if we make it so.” Gertruida emphasises the last bit, pausing afterwards to let it sink in. “And Oudoom is right – it’s the world the Conductor had in mind when He created it all. If only we had enough faith in Him – and in our own abilities – Cythera wouldn’t be a painting of an imaginary island…it’d be all around us.”
Servaas knits his bushy eyebrows together, letting out one of his legendary sighs. “When the music is wrong, I have to adapt? Why can’t I play my own piece? ”
“When you think the music is wrong, Mister Cantankerous, it’s time to look up to the Conductor, admit you don’t think you’re ready…and then see the trust in His eyes. We’re so afraid of failure, we often don’t even try. But with that trust…anything is possible…even Cythera.”
Boggel selects a succulent fillet from the platter and serves Servaas with a flourish. “Elie Wiesel said the opposite of love isn’t hate – it’s indifference. Follow the Conductor. Even if you play badly, it’s better than not playing at all.”
Old Servaas glares at Boggel from under the eyebrows for a second…then manages a wintry smile. “I suppose I’m a bit of a solo artist.”
“Maybe. Music comes in many forms, Servaas, and that’s okay. But if you look up, you’ll find the Conductor tapping his batton, waiting for you to join the orchestra. That’s when you have to be prepared to be surprised…”
“Music. Art. People. We keep on imagining a world filled with Love. And we won’t find it until we understand the word.” Gertruida raises her glass to the anniversary couple. “A toast to Love! To imaginary islands, beautiful paintings and breathtakingly, amazing music. And to the orchestra of Love – may each of us, trembling, unsure, trust the Conductor to select the music that’ll surprise, captivate and enthrall.”
Vrede accepts the thick piece of fat Boggel has sliced off his steak with a wagging tail. He just loves it when humans agree on important things.