Sunday, 10 January 2016


I've been home for a month now, and that is what this place is: home. Driving into Pretoria after a two-day trek up from the Cape, I knew coming over the hill by the Delmas offramp that we were in my hometown, that the house was not far away now. I knew the shortcuts, the menu at Kung-Fu Kitchen, the dry smell of the highveld air on hot summer's day. Everything here is easy in its familiarity.

For a week I have been stuck at my sister's place owing to the fact that I don't have a car and thus couldn't really go anywhere. Therefore, we decided to organise a braai on Saturday and invite a couple of friends over to hang out. One half were childhood friends, people who knew where everything was in the kitchen at the old house, who knew our dogs, who know all the intricacies of lives lived as webs spun in entanglements. A university friend came with her husband, my cousin showed up, boyfriends were brought along to this comfortable congregation.

The salads and snacks, pre-prepared, were waiting in the refrigerator (the one imposing the pungent smell of garlic on the entire kitchen), the plates and cutlery had been laid out and everything was ready. The clouds had gathered across the sky, but we expected it to pour down for 15 minutes in a typical highveld storm and then resume our barbecuing. We even performed a rain dance with a rain stick that my mother had bought more than a decade ago in Mexico. But the dance proved too effective and the rain never seized. We gathered inside, waiting it out, realising at some point that this braai would have to move partially to the kitchen. The boerewors was thrown in a pan, the chicken grilled in the oven whilst two guests braved the rain and barbecued the rest whilst huddled under an umbrella.

The meal was consumed and conversation flowed as everyone had tales to tell of small banalities and big events. By 10 PM the rain finally stopped and most went home, with only four of us enjoying the last bottles of red wine whilst sitting outside and smelling the crisp nighttime air. More than the city this was what I had missed: a contentment found in the congeniality of old friends, of people you needn't ever explain your life to because they had been there for so much of it already.

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