As she parks the car in the wide, neatly paved drive way, Lucille takes in the large white building in front of her. It’s plain but rather magnificent, with very few small windows placed awkwardly, and a single door to which is just large enough to move furniture through, but it hardly inviting for a home. To her right lies a manicured rockery full of exotic flowers, and it boasts of a large overgrown palmtree which sways lightly in the breeze, accentuating the sound of quiet in this new neighbourhood. It seems like the only sign of vegetation for now, as she cannot see any other. The only other door-like feature is to her left, and it is a closed double garage which she assumes she will have access to in the very near future.
A formally dressed woman walks out of the house wearing a broad smile and she extends her hand as Lucille gracefully alights her vehicle. “It’s lovely to finally meet you Mrs Mathe. I am Joan, the agent Mr. Mathe had hired. I am so sorry for your loss.” Lucille lets out a wry smile at her offering of condolences and quickly responds on how the pleasure is all hers, thanking Joan for her patience in dealing with this particular property. She politely removes her sunglasses and adjusts her eyes to the brightness of the sun. It’s a hot and humid day, which promises rainfall later and she believes it will be most welcome.
Lucille’s attention is drawn to the sound of the other 3 doors slamming shut as her daughter Ntokozo (just turned 15), her first son Nkosana (turning 13), and her youngest son Makhosi (almost 11); jump out of the car and take in the bland view in front of them. They are unimpressed and are clearly questioning their mother’s decision to relocate them all the way here. Lucille’s helper, MaDu, has also climbed out and she walks towards the two women, greeting Joan with a broad african smile which accentuates her healthy plump cheeks and immediately reveals her loving, nurturing personality. The heavyset, 53 year old woman of Zulu decent, has served Lucille and her family for the past 5 years and has allowed herself to be well integrated into the family affairs, to such an extent that most people who know them now believe that she is infact a blood relative. She has been a pillar in Lucille’s life particularly in the past 2 years, after the sudden and tragic passing of Sam Mathe, Lucille’s devoted husband of 14 and a half years.
As the rest of the family is introduced to Joan, they naturally slowly make their way into the house. Lucille enters unassumingly, but her perception of this non impressive building changes immediately.
It is beautiful. The modern tiled floors are spotless and pure white. The walls, are painted in delicate sandy tones and the furniture is the perfect fit of dark brown, soft, comfortable leather, simply inviting to lounge in. The centre table is a master piece. Broad, rectangular dark wood, hand carved with magnificent floral designs and lots of well placed slots of shelving for magazines – just the way Sam knew Lucille would love it. The large living area extends first into a dining space, defined by a shabby chic dinner table, seemingly made of recycled planks from an old boat. It is large and square shaped, officially seating 8 people, and is curiously designed for a family of diverse personalities. At the wall, the seats are designed in the form of a booth, which she knows Makhosi will enjoy. On the opposite side, the seating is a backless bench with optional cushioning; and at the remaining two sides sit four formal high back chairs designed to accommodate the more sophisticated dinner guest. She falls in love with it instantly.
Past the dining area, Lucille’s eyes drift naturally to the open plan fitted kitchen, with what looks like granite tops and top notch brands of necessary equipment. It’s best feature is the large window which immediately captures her attention, drawing her towards it.
She approaches the window as though hypnotized and for the first time since their arrival, she hears it – the crashing of the waters on the beach which lies just over 100m away. She hears the various birds compete in their sounds as though announcing their presence to her and she is mesmerized. Lucille watches through the 3 and a half meter space left for her by the house in front theirs; the oceans end and the white waters hitting the beach with such beauty. It is just amazing and the sound of the waves is enough to take all her troubles away and she immediately feels rested after their long week of packing and their 2 hour drive from Cape Town.
“It’s beautiful isn’t it?”
The sudden remark from Joan jerks her back into the moment. She has been watching Lucille’s childlike wonder as she strolled through the home.
“Sam was so confident you would love it, and I am guessing he was right?”
Lucille smiles, ‘Yes, I can’t explain what perfection it is.’
‘It is practically everything I have ever dreamed of – well except for this house here blocking the rest of my view…’
They both chuckle as her hint of humored is well received.
‘…but no, I am not complaining at all.’
Elsewhere in the house, the children have already run upstairs and claimed their bedrooms and MaDu is now making strides to bring in all the luggage from the car, as Ntokozo carries her most prized possession, her cellphone. She now posts a live, short video of everything she can catch in her background – straight to her Facebook page – for all her friends to see.
Her caption: ‘I thought I would miss Jozi but I just found heaven 😍😍😍!’
Joan takes Lucille on a tour of the rest of the large house, walking her through the 4 bedrooms, home office, the back garden area, MaDu’s quarters and two more undefined spaces. Lucille finds herself overwhelmed with emotion. Sam knew her well, and he was determined to make her happy. Everything is just right. Infact, it is perfect.
She probably didn’t expect to find a complete home, because far not, the pictures hadn’t done the house justice. They had underwhelmed her, perhaps because everything was covered in white linen. She recalls how the house had been hastily presented to her, amongst the complex details of her husband’s estate, and she literally had had no time to travel here and see it for herself. And now, almost two years later, she was experiencing his gift to her, for the very first time. the wait was worth it.
Lucille is grateful that Joan has had the home cleaned as this takes a load off of her and MaDu, and they can focus on unpacking clothes and lighter matters. Joan highlights the important security features, and walks Lucille through the neighborhood protocols. Britannia Bay is a largely Afrikaner populated small town with a sizable community of Xhosa natives. It is growing slowly as land is being made available to prospective home owners and investors and this is how a foreigner, like Sam, was able to attain this house on such prime land. It’s serenity, beauty and vast marine life draws tourists from all over but it remains quiet and calm and largely uneventful. She informs Lucille that the gate at the back of their garden leads her family through a comfortable pathway, directly to the beach front and advises on the types of neighbors that they have, including their home occupational patterns. Lucille is glad to know that most of the neighborhood is occasionally occupied as most families bought these homes as holiday homes and tend to run short rentals on their properties, from time to time.
This immediately relieves her of the unwanted pressure of getting to know her neighbors, at least for now. She also learns that the house that covers her ocean view, is occupied by a famous music artist who spends most of his time at engagements in Cape Town and Gauteng.
She is relieved at all the information, which seems to cement for Lucille that her prospects of having the quiet gap year she strongly desires for healing, rest and recuperation, is actually going to be possible.
As Joan leaves, Lucille goes about her motherly duties of setting the house in order and packing up in the boys bedrooms, in anticipation of a full days rest, the following day. She has determined to make the move extremely bearable for the children, and so she ensures that they are fully settled in before she is. The last thing she needs is whining from the small people when they can’t find their favorite things.
At sunset, they all decide to take a walk on the beach and it is the most amazing sight they have seen in a long time. It’s a quiet confirmations not for all that they are in the right place. There is in definition of peace and tranquility, which is something the family was searching for. As they settle down on a sprawled beach blanket that they brought along, they watch the vast species of birds as they land on the rocks and sand, and their silhouettes fly about their evening business. Makhosi breaks the warm silence and says, ‘So mama, we get to live here and see this everyday?’ Lucille smiles realizing what a blessing this is, as she holds her children close to her, thanking God for this ‘new day’.
To be continued next week
©2017|Sithembile Lornah Ndlovu|All Rights Reserved.