Guest Column

Our country bleeds

2017-06-01 15:37

James de Villiers

When it rained, the drops used to drip from the slate roof of my uncle’s home. As an extended family, we’d squeeze onto the covered porch of the Hermanus home and stare at the drops running towards each other to form a scrum, tackling the grass veld which extended all the way to the beach. 

Streams of water sprinted alongside one another, like cracked glass the streams flowed to cover the entire field. 

But it hasn’t rained like this in a while. My uncle, the beach house owner, died unmarried and alone. The humble abode that existed on the 10th street plot has been demolished, replaced with a modern construction. Glass walls and wood now surround it, preventing previous occupants from entering; the aged Milkwood trees are the only reminder of a time gone by.  

These days I sometimes forget about the rain. Some days I’m too preoccupied and stare ahead disillusioned and numb.  

On a Wednesday morning, running next to the Cape Town International Convention Centre, late for work, I stop only to shrug the dust from my torn shoes. I rush past a memorialised Christopher Columbus, frozen in his gaze towards the sea, while dust rises from building sites to form a mist covering the metropolis.  

I try to ignore the beggar who covers his head with a withered black hoodie while he injects himself with a release, because earlier this morning I was unable look past the pregnant women who laid drugged and paralysed next to the dumpster on the gravel street. Like the beggar, she also tried to escape the misery of this world. I stare at her for a while not knowing what to do and inside my heart breaks, and a tear rushes down my cheek. 

I’m already late when I meet up with the News24 videographer. Together we are on our way to the Goodwood Magistrate’s Court for the appearance of a suspect accused of brutally raping and murdering a three year-old. At the end of this day, I walk to the office bathroom, close the cubicle door and sigh thinking of her pain. I imagine her scared facial expression. It haunts me, and I ask myself what more I can do. 

Today I miss the rain, the sound of water patter-pattering like a continuous prayer. I miss the scent of hope rising from the dry clay, spreading new life across the barren earth. When it rains, the children, they run; the grateful farmer cries as he raises his hands to the sky; and the baby, the baby stares at the streams of water running over the field – like me, mesmerised by this age-old ritual. 

Oh, how I wish it would rain again. Not because of a thirsty land, but because our country bleeds: her wounds desperately seek moisture to heal.  

- James de Villiers is a reporter at News24.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

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