The absent father 2/6

By Drum Digital
19 May 2014

His father had returned home to the village for a holiday after many years working in the city. Everybody was very pleased to see him.

People in the village had been coming up to Michael to talk about his father for weeks.

They had smiled and said, “You must be excited that your father is coming home, Michael. It will be so good to see him. I wonder how he is getting on in the city.”

Michael had nodded – yes, he was looking forward to his dad coming home, but in reality he wasn’t so sure. Was he lying to these good people who were so happy for him? There was nobody he could ask. He didn’t want to upset his family and he didn’t think he could ask his teacher at school. It seemed disrespectful somehow.

Michael was five when his grandfather died. He remembered how hard the family had taken his death. Up until then his grandparents had been able to live off the smallholding they owned. As his father hadn’t been much of a farmer, he hadn’t taken over from his grandfather but had instead got a job with a company that built roads in the surrounding areas.

After the construction had ended he left for Durban to look for more jobs on roadwork projects there. If he hadn’t they would surely have starved to death, Michael’s granny had told his mom many times when Mom was upset, Michael recalled. He knew she missed his dad. They all missed him very much. Mom used to cry when she thought Michael was playing outside, but often he was hiding behind the curtains in their small front room, or under the table where the tablecloth reached the floor and nobody could see him.

Granny didn’t mean to be cruel. She never said those words harshly. She just accepted the fact that her son needed to go to the city to find work. Life was hard and she was practical. Michael knew she also missed his father and his grandfather very much.

To be continued......

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