“What a sad, sad story…” Servaas watches as Mo gets into the lorry of Kalahari Vervoer. Sammie arranged a lift as far as Upington, from where Mo will travel by air to Luanda.
“In a way, it’s happy, as well.” Gertruida tries not to look too smug. Did she not – after all – do a splendid job at unravelling the mystery of Mo’s real father? And was not her efforts worth it, just to see how much the news had meant to the man who never knew his father – who, in fact, believed him to be dead? “He’s quite excited about meeting the old man. Far as we know, he is still in good physical shape but Dr Lubovski said he had lost the will to live. When I phoned her this morning, she couldn’t hide her excitement – Mo is exactly what the old man needs right now.”
“But think of all those wasted years! Poor Gerhardus thought his wife had deserted him and never knew about his son. He didn’t even want to come back to South Africa…”
“Yes, Servaas, that’s true. But then – you must remember that, in his mind, he was abandoned by all. Why return if there’s nothing to return to? Now, of course, things might change. Mo promised to keep us up to date, didn’t he?”
“And Mo? What about his journey through life? So complicated, so…unnecessary.”
Gertruida flashes an understanding smile – the one mothers use to soothe an upset child.
“No, not unneccessary, Servaas. No journey through Life is without a purpose. There’s always a rhyme and reason. Did you have a look at Mo’s book?”
“The Song of Life? The verses he wrote in isolation? No, I didn’t have a chance; you were in it all the time.”
“Well, it’s better than Rick Warren, more profound than Mitch Albom. I told him I’ll send it to a publisher, who – I’m sure – will latch onto it like a leech. It’s international bestseller material, I’m sure.
“Now, without the way his life turned out to be, he’d never have been able to write it. And that shepherd, Petrus, contributed remarkably much to his insight. And…don’t forget that farmer. It was no coincidence that the two of them met up – no coincidence at all! Now Mo has a half-share in a Karoo farm, a father to meet and a whole new life ahead of him.”
Servaas is still not comfortable with it all. “What about Maria, his mother?”
“Ah, yes, the mystery of it all! Who knows what fate…or destiny…has in store there? Funny, Mo never asked about her – did you notice? Auntie Florrie brought him up and after that he took to the streets. He never knew a mother…not a real one, poor thing.”
Vetfaan brightens. “Maybe that Russian doctor….?
“Shhh, Vetfaan, don’t tempt fate. But wouldn’t it be nice, though?”
And so, in the end, they waved the bus off and returned to Rolbos. Mo was en route to his last horizon, and whatever answer he finds there, it’ll be the end of his search – for now..
Gertruida says Life is much like a good story: every ending is a beginning and not all endings are happy ones. Most endings, according to her, are not endings at all but mere pauses while the next chapter is born.
And sometimes, she says, the best stories do just that: allow the audience to make up the next chapter – for there’ll always be a next, and a next, and a next to follow. Which is why, when the dust on the road to Upington settles down at last, the group returns to Boggel’s Place in a pensive mood. What will Mo find in Angola? Will he return? And what about his father?
“At least they’ll be able to talk about prisons and being locked up. Or compare notes on interrogation techniques. Or feeling rejected?”
“You are one facetious, cynical, insensitive son of a female dog, Vetfaan!” Gertruida’s smile, however, tells him she understands. Vetfaan is only doing what most South Africans do when they’re upset – joking has become the best survival tool since 1994. “Did you notice? Mo didn’t use his Sulliman surname when he introduced himself – he said: ‘Cronje’. And that’s how I realised what he really needed – he was searching for his roots. He was looking…for himself.”
Servaas nods. “We all are, aren’t we? Trying to understand our own stories, I mean. Figuring out the next chapter. Without it, we cannot love.”
He gets a surprised look from Gertruida, who has picked up her handbag to look for a Kleenex.