Tag Archives: currie cup

The Fading Significance of Remorse

2b6826f5af0bd50fc72475477179bda9.img“Ja, there’ll be a few sore heads in the Western Province today,” Servaas, an old Province supporter, smiles happily. “We certainly beat them fair and square.”

“Not so. No fair. One successful kick and the tables would have been turned. The Lions played their hearts out, you have to give them that.” Vetfaan, whose loyalty towards the more northern team never wavered, stares wistfully into his empty glass. “if only…”

If doesn’t count, the score board does. And it’s there for everybody to see: we won. That result is now history – fifty years from now the statisticians will look at it and nobody will worry about how it came about. Rugby isn’t for sissies, Vetfaan. You have to take what’s coming to you, like a man.”

The conversation slews this way and that, but the central theme remains the Lion’s defeat at the hands of Province. Vetfaan said something about penalties missed, opportunities that went begging.

“Ag, it’s Life, Vetfaan.” Kleinpiet puts a comforting arm around his friend’s shoulder. “Win some, lose some. No use crying over spilt milk.”

Boggel serves another round before joining the conversation. “That’s the problem these days. People aren’t allowed to feel sorry anymore. It’s not fashionable to express grief. Why, whenever something goes wrong, you simply blame somebody else, the system, the legacy of the past or any lame excuse you can think of. And you know what? Then people forget about it and the next catastrophe pops up. Life, as we know it, has become a string of disasters, one following the other, and we’ve become immune to the results of such. Take e-toll, Nkandla, the Arms Deal, corrupt ministers and so many officials and administrators who erode the fabric of our society. Even worse: take the huge interest in the various court cases we hear about every day.” He is, of course, referring to the Pistorius and Dewani cases. “Do we still stop and think about these? Are we still able to distinguish between right and wrong? And do we pause for a moment to consider the men and women behind these incidents?

“No, we say it’s spilt milk, we don’t cry about it, and simply continue building little mental forts to hide in. As long as we can play ostrich-ostrich, we don’t have to think. And that, I think, is bad.

“But when we consider sport, we become changed men. We shout. We express opinions, we celebrate and we grieve. Why? Because for too many people, the only real thing they see, is sport. It’s transparent,it’s actual, and the scoreline is final. There’s no appeal, no replay. A dropped pass is a dropped pass. The kick that missed, remains a scoring opportunity gone begging. And that, I think, appeals to people because there’s discipline, logic and finality involved. Those things are sadly lacking in everyday life.”

It’s Gertruida, who knows everything, who nods. Yes, Boggel is right. Modern Man is becoming progressively impassive to unfolding events. It’s almost as if we expect failure – as if the only way to handle Life, is to become so self-centered that we shrink the world to be the thin timeline we live on.

“It is,” she says, “because we refuse remorse and grief to play a part in our everyday lives. And that’s where the Bible leads a few of us astray, Oudoom.” She watches the old Pastor’s face blanche. “No, listen to what I’m saying before you react.

“How many times have you told us not to judge? Isn’t it central to our faith? We say we mustn’t reprove.” She pauses while Oudoom takes a deep breath. “But what about forgiveness? How can you forgive, if you haven’t formed an opinion? And without an opinion – or judgement – you cannot decide that something is right or wrong. It’s fundamental to the act of forgiveness to have judged something to be improper.

“Once we can forgive, we can allow remorse, for it’s only forgiveness that sets the stage for remorse. So what happens in society? We don’t judge kindly, we don’t forgive, and thus nobody has to express remorse. We become callous and unfeeling, little armored amoebas drifting along in the sludge that surrounds us, because we don’t allow us to be honest with ourselves – and go through life as isolated as we possibly can. The concept of a sympathetic society that acts as a unit, has ceased to exist. We have become Homo Pachydermacallous, the final stage in evolution.”

All this is way too much for Kleinpiet, who enjoyed the Currie Cup Final tremendously.

“Gee, guys, do we have to psychoanalyse civilisation because the Lions lost? Can’t we just be normal and celebrate the victors – as well as commiserate with the losers.?”

“That’s the point, Kleinpiet. We need to feel – both sides. Express emotion. Laugh a little. Cry a bit. That’s the only way to experience Life as it should be. And let me remind you: such emotions are judgement calls as well. We can decide to be happy – or sad – because we’ve analysed the situation. Then, once again, we become captains of our own ships: individuals with an opinion – but members of a larger body,”

“I don’t understand what this has to do with rugby.” Servaas has lost the point in the conversation right in the beginning. He only expressed his joy at his team winning, after all.

“Rugby is much like life, Servaas. In Life, we also have a referee, a game plan and a limited time to play. Then, along the way, things go right…or wrong. When the final whistle sounds, one may have stacked up enough points to win…or lose. Somehow I don’t think it matters much whether you founded Microsoft or lived a pauper’s life on the sidewalk. What matters is how you lived the life you were given. Did you, in essence, play the game? How did you treat your fellow man? What – and how – did you say things to your neighbour? Were you kind in your judgement and what role did forgiveness play?” Despite Gertruida’s explanation, Servaas retains his puzzled look.

“Look, Servaas.” Oudoom seems to have recovered from Gertruida’s remarks. “what our panel of psychoanalysts seem to say, is that we should do in Life as we do in sport. Feel, shout, celebrate, grieve…and even love. Look at you, Servaas: when that final whistle blew, you whooped with joy. Vetfaan, however, emitted a constipated groan.  Now – the question is this: why do we allow ourselves to experience sport in so many more colours than we live in every day? Why does Vetfaan feel worse about a three-point difference, than about the killing, the rape and the corruption in the country? And yes, Gertruida may be right: it’s because we stopped thinking about such things. That’s why, my friend, we need to bring back remorse and reality to our lives. If our government expressed these emotions about some of their decisions, we’d be able – at last – to judge them fairly. They’d get my vote the moment they become honest about their feelings.”

***

Sometimes, Boggel will tell you, he wishes he could write about the things they talk about in his little bar. The conversations don’t always follow a logical line, but – if you listened carefully – you’d find s few nuggets of wisdom hidden in the musings of his patrons.

But –  he says – he won’t bother putting these wisdoms to paper. People won’t read them, he says, and if they do, they’d most probably reject them as idealistic and even romantic. And, as we all know, Life is too real for fantasy.

Ask any Lion supporter if you don’t believe him.,..

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The Rape of Miss Katie Malone (# 6)

1054432-3x2-940x627Constable Sipho Modise just loves his job. Four weeks ago he graduated from being just another man-in-the-street, to being a respected member of the police force…or as they call it: Police Service. Accent on Service… Yes, he’ll protect and serve, that’s what he’ll do. For too long has he listened to the frightening stories of crime in his neighbourhood; it is time to stand up and be counted.

He did well in his training. The driver’s test was almost a fiasco when he bumped the brand-new police van into an unsuspecting but very irresponsible tree, but because he at least hit the target twice during the shooting exam, his superior officer was kind enough to turn a blind eye to that little mishap.

But now, today, Constable Sipho is an unhappy man. The crime. The rapes. The murders. The corruption. And now, the ultimate injustice of all: the Western Province did not win the Currie Cup. With players like Jean de Villiers and Geo Aplon, they were assured to be victorious on their home ground. What happened? The Sharks won then convincingly. And that, Sipho will tell you, is just so wrong.

So today, on his beat, he will see to it that justice is served. Pure, unadulterated, concentrated, 100% proof Justice. No holds barred…

One can understand that – when he sees a naked woman trying to climb through a window – Constable Sipho reacts immediately. Is this a new way of breaking-and-entering? Or is it simply Public Indecency? Or soliciting?

He doesn’t care. He’ll stop crime, no matter what it is called. He’s about to open the garden gate leading to the door, when a minibus screeches to a halt next to the curb.

***

“Help!”

It’s a plaintive shout, a hopeless one at that, directed at nobody at all. The Man forgets all about the value of his asset as he yanks her back into the house, sending her sprawling across the floor.

“How dare you! You are NOTHING! Worthless! I tried to be nice to you…but now! Now I’ll simply speed up your little program with a nice little preview of the rest of your miserable life.” When she whimpers in fright, he backhands her once – hard – drawing blood from a burst lip. The Man finds this funny as he unbuckles his belt.

***

“Constable!” Vetfaan rushes up to the uniformed man with a hand held high. “Please, you’ve got to help us. There’s a woman…”

“The naked one?”

“Yes. No. I don’t know. A young woman. I believe she’s being held here against her will.”

Unlike the stereotype so many people entertain in their minds, Sipho is neither stupid nor ignorant. It is true that he grew up in a small village and it is accurate to say his formal schooling left much to be desired. However, his father taught him and his three brothers a lot about life, tradition and culture. Domestic violence wasn’t tolerated. Drinking was evil. Disrespecting your seniors and women were severely frowned upon and usually resulted in a beating.

Now, when Constable Sipho hears the burly man describing in short, urgent sentences why he is here, it is Sipho’s tradition – his father’s teachings – that takes over; it made a far greater impression on him than the training he recently received.

Motioning Vetfaan to follow him, Sipho runs quietly up the stairs to turn the handle on the front door.

“It is locked….”

Of course it was. At least, when he uttered the words, the statement was true…but not for long. He watches in awe as the Vetfaan hurls his big frame at the door, ripping the hinges off the frame.

“Not any more, ” Vetfaan pants as he storms in.

***

Some men are funny. Not Ha-Ha funny…just weirdly strange.Check out a man working on a carburettor, or a Sharks fan watching the final. Somehow, they lose contact with their surroundings as they focus on what they’re doing. Women- generally speaking – are much more aware of their surroundings. Maybe that’s why lionesses do the hunting…?

So, when Vetfaan storms into the room where The Man is towering over Miss Katie Malone, it takes both men a second to comprehend the situation. For what seems to be an everlasting moment, the two big man stare at each other. Katie, with the fast-processing, multiple open-window-microchip inherited by all females, doesn’t have to think – she’s up in a flash to storm towards the open front door and freedom.

***

They watch as the ambulance men stagger down the front steps, carrying the huge limp and groaning mess on the litter to the waiting vehicle.

“That man isn’t going to talk for a lo-o-ong time. And he’s going to have to eat watery porridge even longer.” Sipho smiles smugly from behind the barrel of his pistol that is trained more-or-less in the direction of The Caretaker.

Fanny has found some bandages, and is bandaging Vetfaan’s right hand. Typical male, Vetfaan flinches every now and then to show his woman how much it hurts. She’s not fooled, of course, but true to her gender, she makes soothing sounds to tell her man what a mighty warrior he had been. It’s a game as old as the world…

Gertruida was, in retrospect, the one who acted most rationally. When Katie ran full tilt into her, it was Gertruida who lifted the trembling woman into her arms and went back inside. She barely glanced over to where Vetfaan was busy practicing advanced dentistry on The Man with a small table, as she looked around, found a cupboard in the corridor and discovered a gown and slippers.

***

Report in The Cape Argus.

In a well-planned operation, members of the South African Police Service apprehended a number of suspects in Cape Town yesterday in connection with an international human trafficking syndicate. Unconfirmed reports suggest that several people employed at Cape Town International Airport were involved, as well as a senior police officer. 

A spokesman for SAPS did not confirm or deny that their investigations might now concentrate on certain individuals in the Middle East and China. However, it was stated that Interpol is now involved as well.

The minister of police issued a short statement, praising the prompt action of a constable who was responsible for the breakthrough.

Meanwhile, the condition of one of the suspects remain critical but stable in Groote Schuur Hospital. This man apparently tried to escape, but managed to run into a speeding bus. The bus driver could not be contacted.

***

“Uuuuuh…” Vetfaan rubs he cracked rib as he reaches for his beer.

They’re back in Rolbos, where Katie is recovering under Mevrou’s loving care. Gertjie Viljoen gladly accepted Gertruida’s invitation to visit; he’s out in the veld, photographing butterflies.

“Well,” Boggel sighs, “at least she wasn’t… You know? Raped…”

“Boggel, that’s a typical stupid remark people use these days. At least I wasn’t killed. Or: It’s only worldly goods, at least they didn’t hurt you. I’m not fighting with you, Boggel, but it pisses me off.This remark is so unlike Gertruida that even Vetfaan stops groaning. “It’s as if we’ve come to accept crime as being okay, as long as our lives are spared.

“You know what? That’s bullshit!” She’s so agitated and angry that she ignores the box of tissues Boggel produces. Bugger it! She can cry if she wants to! “People do to you what you allow them to. If we continue to have this submissive victim-syndrome, we’ll just keep on saying stupid things like that. And if we continue to vote for a corrupt government, we deserve every criminal act perpetrated by thieves, poachers, smugglers, murderers and…rapists.” The last word is hissed with so much venom that an eerie silence fills Boggel’s Place.

“There, there, Gertruida…” Oudoom gets up to take Gertruida in his arms. “The meek shall inherit…”

Between the sobs, Gertruida shakes her head. No…she doesn’t believe that any more.

“Take me home, Dominee, please. I’m so tired.”

The group at the bar watches as Oudoom leads Gertruida towards her cottage. They’ve never seen her like this before.

“Uuuh…” Vetfaan directs everybody’s attention back to his bruised body. Like men are wont to do, he likes being the center of attention.

“Oh you poor man…” Fanny’s eyes have a mischievous glint as she smiles at Vetfaan. “Sooo brave…”

She gets a brilliant smile from the burly man.

“I was thinking of spoiling you a bit tonight, Fanie…you know?” She runs a playful finger over the stubble on his chin. “But with you in so much pain, we’ll have to postpone it for a few weeks. Just to allow you to recover.”

The brilliant smile gets replaced with the pained look of a man waving a Western Province flag at Newlands.

***

In the months to come, Miss Katie Malone will write a book on the effects of psychological rape – not only about herself, but also involving a whole nation. The title – Silent Suffering – will be read by many, understood by few, and it’s contents regarded as brilliant literature.  Sadly, it won’t change the way people think or act. It’s become a habit – a self-destructive, self-defeatist attitude that makes us insensitive to suffering – as long as it happens to somebody else…

One good day, we will see
Arising a strand of smoke
Over the far horizon on the sea
And then the ship appears
And then the ship is white
It enters into the port, it rumbles its salute.