Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Leaving Touwsriver


                                                                         
The old gray suitcase was heavy, pulling me sideways as I waddled between the pavement and main road. The wind rose from the national road and came in with tumble weeds and cigarette stubs that was disposed by drivers not turning their heads as they whooshed past with Marco Polo Lux liners.                   
If you did not watch closely, Touwsriver was a blink of an eye and less than a sun speckle for the travelling cataract eye leaving old age homes to visit family. It was a freaking small railway station that connected small sad corroded routes to the mainline.
I was on my way to the station from downtown and for the first time in twenty years I was not going to stare at that black lettered sign, greeting coincidental visitors that came for a pee and a cool drink at the local garage in the beginning of town.
Visitors never ventured further than the gas kiosk to maybe consider sightseeing of the village. Well there was almost fuck all to see anyway except for three mountain tortoises and a man with a huge hobbled back that worked for the Perm bank   
Oh! That strong wide gleaming rail ran living as the Nile, the Ganges through our dusty tarmac station, bringing the blue continental express with funny looking people flashing cameras at every god damn thing they saw and the Trans Karoo that seated mothers trying to contain hyper excited children screaming through the train passages and fathers looking out of their respective compartments drinking beers, eating boiled eggs maybe thinking holiday.  
 I was going to leave in one of those trains and never look back. For a Friday evening the station looked deserted and I only saw the signs of earlier activity, swirling litter in small baby tornados on the deck. My heart was thumping and I thought that I missed the train to Cape Town.
Old Teddy was the only person I saw cleaning the deck with an industrial broom. Dad said that there was something wrong with him. When he was seven years old he dived into the municipality bath and accidentally cracked his skull against the side of the pool. Ever since the accident he cannot control his mucus and got stuck to only count up to five. Donny  Evangelist felt pity for him and arranged a job for him as a cleaner with the railway company. Ever since old Teddy has been cleaning around the station and bothering the maids in the locations after he knocked off and I believed he was happy with his life.
The station loudspeakers was playing the clarinet of Acker Bilk and Teddy looked at me with his big lettuce ears and open jaw saying” Jesus mate what do you have there; it is one hell of a lunchbox for your father! “
The music that belonged to coffee shops and Mass Mart passages somehow weakened me to a rude response and I said “Teddy, it is my suitcase; I am leaving the village tonight.”
He looked at me with his customised void expression and smiled saying “ahh you joking now, nobody born here leaves this place, your dad just said this other day that he’s going to get you in as a fitter, grand job at 15 rands a hour  

Blocking out Teddy’s ravings about my prospects I irritably said “How late does the Cape Town train arrive?”
Teddy seemed apprehensive and in a funeral  voice said  “20h00 “ He looked at me questioningly and one could see he was searching for words in his pot hole brain but was unable to find it. His droopy eyes became red and wet and he was crying “eeeeh –eeeeh, his going to miss you, his oldest boy.....  , now you’re going to leave eeh-eeeeh “
My father, the  Station Master looked like he had the whiskers of a Scottish terrier and came abruptly out of his office and shouted through his big moustache at Teddy “get the bloody deck clean! Because I am not signing another warning for you retard, for love of Jesus why did I ever listen to that bastard reverend?”
Teddy shuffled along applying his broom and now bulking like an injured ass that lost a ball by hacking it on a barbwire farm fence. Dad looked at me showing no weakness and righteous contempt was burning in his expression” Good luck to you lad, going to play Cowboy and crooks in the jungles of Congo” He now walked towards me and his face dropped but his eyes was still fierce “Leave it son!, I need you here, you and your brother are breaking your Mothers heart ....”.  
Suddenly a harsh siren goes off and the saunters light go green” Thank you for your concern Farther but what I and my faggot brother need  is to break away from this Alcatraz  that you and mother created in this  honky tonk shit of a place” 
The old man looked at me wearily and said softly “Martin you need to forgive your Mother if you want lasting peace, you going to get killed over there and this contempt of yours will remain unresolved”    
I turned my back to him and I walked to the farthest side of the platform waiting for the coming train that announced its presence through the powerful vibrations that rippled through the concrete under my soles.
The old man was looking at me, staring with dagger eyes through me, ripping, searching for my cancer, to have a better understanding of what made a son hate his parents so much. I was staring back at him with the train pulling in and I wished I had another 10 minutes to tell him that I was not the hater, that I was leaving Touwsriver to put my life to the extreme test of fate 
I wanted to tell him that I loved him but that my life was a coincidental sperm spillage to an aggrieved Mother that cried for as long as I remember about the loss of her youth. If I returned then my life was justified but if I died that she was released from the burden of her guilt and remorse: my existence    
The train pulled away and I felt that I left with everything that was me but when I looked out of the window farther was crying on the shoulder of a wasted loving Teddy and I prepared for a long hard night of memory lane.  


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