“It’s been awfully quiet lately.” Servaas burps as he orders a fresh beer.
“Ja, people think nothing happens here any more.” Raising a questioning eyebrow, Vetfaan turns to Gertruida. “What’s up? Has he stopped writing? Gone walkabout? Emigrated? Long holiday? Contemplating his navel?”
“Oh no!” As usual, Gertruida has all the answers. “He’s been spending lots of time at his keyboard. Lots! But, he says, it’ll all be revealed soon.”
“Oh?” Boggel closes the empty drawer of the till. “That’s nice. I’m sorry to interrupt, guys, but it’s the end of the month. You have to settle your tabs.”
They ignore the little bent man…like they always do when he reminds them that the only thing in life you get for free, is the Vrede’s landmine in the middle of Voortrekker Weg every morning.
“So what is he writing?”
“Ah, it’s the story of a man who made international history a few years back. It’s got everything. Poor boy, an outcast, struggles with politics, love and rejection. He gets a chance to change the world…and then he does.”
“Is he a local chappie?” Vetfaan loves to hear that not everything in South Africa is falling apart. “Please don’t tell me it’s about Zuma of Malema?”
“Oh no! Not a political figure, although politics features quite prominently in the man’s life. No – he was just a kid from the wrong side of the tracks who made good. Like our stories, it’s a feel-good tale of determination, perseverance, a bit of good luck and a breakthrough. Oh, and love against all odds. It makes fascinating reading.”
“Yeah?” Servaas isn’t impressed. “That sounds rather common to all men, I’d say. I had a tough time convincing Siena to shack up with me, too…”
“Which is quite understandable, given your looks.” They all laugh at Kleinpiet’s interjection before turning to Gertruida again.
“And there’s a small chance – maybe more than that – of a movie. In fact, the storyline is so intriguing, it’d be a crime not to film it.” Even Servaas sits up when Gertruida informs them about this. “Yes, a movie. We have such wonderful, real-life South African stories. People read about our economy going for junk status. They watch our parliament becoming a joke. Our president single handedly wins the competition to be the most ridiculed man in the country. Malema frightens the whites and Zuma scares the blacks.
“But where – oh where! – are the good stories? We need to be reminded of a once-proud nation which produced remarkable men – sometimes against all odds. Instead of allowing us to sink deeper into a muddy depression, we should be reminded that no situation – no political rhetoric – has the right to dump the nation into junk status. If it happens to the economy, that’s beyond your and my control. But…each of us is the captain of his own ship.
“That’s what the story is all about. Maybe you’ll read about it soon. Maybe you’ll see it on the big screen. It’s a story we must all take note of. Essential reading, I’ll call it.”
“Well…who is it about? A real person?”
“Yes, Vetfaan. He’s real.” Gertruida suddenly looks sad. “But he won’t tell me the name. I can guess, but I really don’t know…”
The group at the bar stares at Gertruida in shocked silence. Gertruida doesn’t know? That’s a first!
“…But I’ll find out, believe you me! I’ve got my ear on the ground. Pretty soon I’ll know his name – then I’ll tell you.”
“Don’t you have a clue?”
“I do, Servaas. I’ll play you a song … ”