Finding North

Lees die Afrikaanse weergawe

My father taught me to always find North when getting to a new place. That way, he said, you would never get lost. He found his Way twenty-two years ago and doesn’t need the stars for direction anymore.

Me, on the other hand, still search for my North when arriving in a new town or city. Here it isn’t challenging at all, but I must confess that, when we lived or travelled abroad, I struggled to find it.

We lived in Egypt for a while and travelled to the Middle East and Europe and when I looked up at the night sky and didn’t see the Southern Cross in the Northern Hemisphere, I felt a bit lost. My inner compass just couldn’t find its North. Everything felt backwards and upside down. And it didn’t help that the Nile of the Bible flowed in the ‘wrong’ direction.

In Egypt I made East and West my goal. My husband, Deon, and I got lost while going for a walk on our second day in Cairo. We eventually saw the setting sun between the high buildings and followed it, because we knew that that was where the Nile was. In Cairo the Nile became my North – even though it was always East or West from where we were coming from or going to.

Tonight, when our son, Michael, walked to his cottage, he knocked on the window and called me to have a look at the stars. And there the Milky Way hovered in the load shedding darkness over our town with the Southern Cross reminding me – we are home.

© 2022 Fielies De Kock

Wife. Mom. Writer. Living in Hermanus in the Overberg, South Africa, with her husband, son and two dogs. Author of Yeovangya’s Quest, a children’s chapter book, and a few short reads, and co-author of a 125 Creative Writing Prompts for Petrolheads with her content writer son.

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© 2022 Fielies De Kock

Wife. Mom. Writer. Living in Hermanus in the Overberg, South Africa, with her husband, son and two dogs. Author of Yeovangya’s Quest, a children’s chapter book, and a few short reads, and co-author of a 125 Creative Writing Prompts for Petrolheads with her content writer son.

Reblogged: Read my latest article ’10 Blockbuster Movies Originating from Short Stories’ on Listverse

Read my latest article, 10 Blockbuster Movies Originating from Short Stories, now on Listverse.

© 2022 Fielies De Kock

Wife. Mom. Writer. Living in Hermanus in the Overberg, South Africa, with her husband, son and two dogs. Author of a children’s chapter book and a few short reads, and co-author of a 125 Creative Writing Prompts for Petrolheads with her content writer son.

Read the First Chapter of my Children’s eBook, Yeovangya’s Quest, Here

…and then buy it here. 😊

Scroll down to read the first chapter.

My Children’s eBook, Yeovangya’s Quest, is available on Amazon Kindle to buy or to read for free if you are subscribed to Kindle Unlimited. Yeovangya’s Quest (a 10-chapter book) is good, clean reading for children, packed with adventure and action and even contains a few life lessons and is perfect for young readers between the ages of 9 and 14. Yeovangya has enough action to keep boys’ attention captive and plentiful romance for girls of all ages.

Yeovangya’s Quest is the true fairy tale of a princess past her ‘marriage age’ who doesn’t want to marry through arrangement, but only for true love – just like her parents did. She decides to determine the outcome of her future herself, by embarking on a journey looking for the love of her life. She concocts a plan with her father’s confidant, cuts her hair, dresses as a boy and sets off with her two closest companions – Blaffi, her brave and loyal dog, and Prr, the lazy, upstairs palace cat. Together they face many adventures and dangers, such as a dual with a man who can’t handle his beer, almost becoming lunch to a hungry lion, being attacked by three bad princes and even being shipwrecked.

Yeovangya finds more than what she looked for. She learns about her own weaknesses and about the consequences of selfishness. Above all, she learns to love in more ways than she expected to. She experiences abundant joy and the hurt of loss and having to let go – before she eventually learns to embrace what life offers.

Enjoy the first chapter.

CHAPTER 1

In Yeodomme

“Prince Magique from the island of Coffca.., Prince Lauro, also from Coffca.., Prince Danelyos from the island of Glorios…”

The master of ceremony looked at Princess Yeovangya and wondered if she was even listening. To her, the whole affair felt more like a funeral than an engagement feast. She sat through the introduction of the Kingdom of Fabelia’s unmarried princes without any expectation. Her sweet smile seemed to fool everyone except her father. The princes paraded past her and King Yeovaijk’s thrones. The King acknowledged every one of them with a courteous wave of the hand and a smile. Yeovangya heard him sigh when the master of ceremony announced the last prince. He knew her long enough to realise that none of the princes introduced succeeded to make an impression on his daughter. All his hopes for a future son-in-law and an heir were focussed on this feast. Yeovangya looked at her father’s absent smile and knew that he was disappointed in her unwillingness to choose anyone from the available suitors.

The orchestra started to play and King Yeovaijk led Yeovangya to the dance floor. He smiled at her, dazzled by her beauty that reminded him so much of his late wife. After the dance, Prince Ormael, the younger of the two Zaburaju princes, asked her for a dance. He was an attractive man with a very imposing stature. He kept an intelligent conversation and seemed to be the perfect gentleman.

He would have been a perfect choice. He is everything a princess could hope for – except that being so close to him had absolutely no effect on my heart rate, Yeovangya thought. And he smelled funny.

When the music stopped, she looked up, smiled at him and thanked him politely for the dance.

She danced with a few more princes before retreating to her father’s table. He wasn’t there and she sat back, sipping her French champagne. She gazed through the guests. A few of them had gotten acquainted very well.

At least one or two other princesses will find the missing part of their hearts tonight! She was still busy with her thoughts when Quemonne suddenly spoke beside her.

“The king was wondering if you had come to a decision, Princess? And uh,” he cleaned his throat theatrically, “me too.”

She looked at him in his immaculate uniform, his hands behind his back. His calmness always unnerved her, yet she loved being in his presence. She felt save with him – just as when she was with her father. Her eyes narrowed as she looked up at him. “Only the rest of my life is in the balance here and you two are wondering!”

“I’m sorry, Yeova, but you know what the purpose of this feast is. You were to choose a husband tonight. Your father just wants you to be happy… and to settle.”

Yeovangya’s eyes were full of fury now. “To marry someone that I do not love will not make me settle happily! It will break my heart! It will be a tragedy! You know that and Daddy knows it. Go and tell him that he can stop wondering. I am not marrying anyone for any reason other than love!”

Quemonne nodded, lifted one eyebrow, as was his manner, and started turning away when she continued. “And tell him to send these peacocks home!”

Now Quemonne smiled. He adored her, although she was somewhat spoiled and hard-headed. She could be very melodramatic at times, and she had her own ideas about things, but then again, that was who she was – someone who believed in herself and who always got what she wanted. So far. He felt sorry for her though. There was so much pressure on her to get married, and her dream in life was to marry for true love and have a good marriage – as her parents did. She was a ruthless romantic and not even the great King Yeovaijk, ruler of Yeodomme and the Island Kingdoms of Fabelia, would ever change that.

“There must be a true love for me, Quemonne, and I will find him even if I have to go look for him myself!”

He held up a hand to calm her. “You know that your father will never allow that, Princess.” His voice was soft but commanding. He was stirred by her passion. He was responsible for her safety. He had to calm her down and try to talk any crazy, dangerous ideas she might have, out of her head. “And neither will I! You better forget any such thoughts you’re having!” He was serious and couldn’t help wondering how serious she was.

*

“King Yeovaijk, sire, you absolutely cannot allow that!” The old man was red in his face with anguish as he accentuated every word he uttered.

“That’s right, your majesty, she absolutely has to get married now! She is four years past the age of marriage already.”

“Hear, hear!” Another one supported his view and a few more objections were expressed.

King Yeovaijk held his hand up in the air. Silence fell in the room. “I have made my decision.” The king stopped speaking and looked at everyone in the court before he continued firmly. “I will give her exactly one year to choose her own husband. If she fails to do that, I will announce my choice of a husband on her behalf, whom she will be marrying three hundred and sixty-six days from today! Until that time, General Quemonne will be officially second-in-charge of the kingdom. In case of my death before the year’s end, he will act as her guardian – and if she hadn’t found a suitor after three hundred and sixty-five days, he will marry her, and they will become the rulers of Yeodomme and Quiano and the whole Kingdom of Fabelia.” The king paused and looked at his shocked audience and a bewildered Quemonne.

“I, Yeovaijk, protector of the Island Kingdoms of Fabelia appreciate your co-operation in this regard. I also believe that it is not necessary for me to ask you to keep this to yourselves. I do not want my daughter’s choice of a husband being influenced by anything or anyone. Therefore, I declare this information top secret. Anyone who fails to comply will receive the punishment for high treason!” The king stood up from the throne and looked at the still astonished Quemonne. “General, let the assembly adjourn.”

*

Yeovangya frowned at herself in the mirror while her servant, Yotu, brushed her hair out to redo it after the morning’s horseback riding. She knew that she was a good-looking girl. She had big blue eyes, high cheek bones, and full, beautiful lips. Her reddish-brown hair hung in wild curls over her narrow shoulders. Her eyes moved lower. Her body was in excellent shape, thanks to the hours she spent on Tan-Tan’s back daily. And she had a good intellect. Why couldn’t she find the right husband? Why weren’t any of the princes able to catch and hold her attention? She dreamed of her future king since she was a little girl, playing with her mother’s jewellery and clothes. She could still remember her mother’s face when she looked at her father. It was that look in her eyes, which made Yeovangya vow that she wouldn’t settle for anything less. She dreamed of her own husband to be strong and gentleman-like at the same time – just like her daddy. Only, he would have dark features. He would be older than she was, and he would be headstrong too – to handle her every mood. He wouldn’t be a softy, like those princes she met tonight. They were just saying what they thought she wanted to hear. She didn’t want a spineless man!

“Yotu, what do you think of me?”

Yotu frowned. “What do mean, Princess?”

Yeovangya looked at herself in the mirror again, making dramatic faces while inspecting her image in the mirror. “Do you think I’m desirable?” She saw the confusion on Yotu’s face and continued irritably. “To a man, Yotu!”

“Oh,” Yotu looked at her with a smile. “Of course, Prin…”

”Yotu, you’re my best friend!” The interruption was meant as a reprimand to the young girl. Yotu and all Yeovangya’s immediate servants knew that they had to be honest with her at all times. She might be a bit spoiled, but she was a sincere, good-mannered girl, whom they all loved. She was also a very sharp girl when it came to emotions and character. She knew exactly when they were not honest with or true to her.

“Yeova,” she liked to call her friend by her pet name, but only when they were alone and serious about something, “as your friend I can tell you that you are the most desirable woman in all of Fabelia and probably the whole world. You are absolutely gorgeous! Every boy and every man in the kingdom want to marry you and every woman and every little girl wish they were you. You are also the dearest friend I have and you have a beautiful soul…”

“But what, Yotu? What?” Yeovangya prompted impatiently.

Yotu continued hesitantly. “How many people do you know who married for love? You learn to love, my mother always says… I’m sure if you marry Prince Danelyos, you will learn to love him! He’s a wonderful man.”

”Yotu, I don’t believe my ears! To marry for love is my destiny!” It seemed as if she was in pain as she tried to dramatise the situation enough so that her servant-friend could understand. “Do you still not understand that after all these years? And yes, I do know people who married for love. My father nearly lost his throne because he wanted to marry my mother and not some other princess. You can marry prince Danelyos if you want to, but I will most certainly not!”

Yotu blushed and continued brushing her princess’ hair and went on bravely. “And besides your mother and your father?”

Yeovangya’s lips curled up and she frowned. She was so unaware of her beauty, Yotu thought. When she was in deep thought, she had a way of moving her lips around, from the one side to the other. And with that, her eyebrows went up and down. Her father found it adorable, her servants crumbled before her when she did it and men of all ages just drooled and became clay in her hands. Even the level-headed General Quemonne had no resistance against that.

“Yeova, if people would sit around, waiting for the right person to come along, this whole kingdom would seize to exist. Why do you think people all over the world arrange their children’s marriages? Life must go on!”

“Don’t you want to get married to someone you love, Yotu?”

For a moment Yotu was silenced. Yeovangya knew that she was madly in love with Quemonne’s twin brother, Tanaka, but for a servant to marry outside her class was impossible and although Tanaka wasn’t royalty, he was a well-known scribe, writer and poet in the king’s court. Yotu looked a little bit sad when she answered Yeovangya.

“Yeova, you are going to be the queen. You have everything your heart desires. Will it be so hard to marry a decent prince and live happily ever after?”

Yeovangya stared at herself, but her eyes didn’t really see the picture in the mirror anymore. She saw a plan taking shape instead. “It’s my destiny, my purpose to love someone with my whole heart.” She turned around to face Yotu. “You’ll see, Yotu, I will find him. I have a plan!”

“What? Are you going to hire someone to find all the unmarried men in the kingdom to come here so that you can choose the love of your life?” Yotu laughed, but when she saw the impression on the princess’ face, she felt quiet immediately.

Yeovangya smiled at her, suddenly bursting with energy. “Not exactly, Yotu. I have a better plan.” She looked around as if to make sure there was no one around to hear her and continued, whispering. “I’m going to look for him myself!”

Yotu gasped for air. “Are you out of your royal mind? You father will never allow that!”

“You’re right. My father will not,” and she leant forward and whispered, “but you are going to help me, Yotu. You and Quemonne.” She put a forefinger on her lips. “Please, don’t tell anyone anything. This is our secret. Do you understand me?”

Yotu looked panicky. Fear gripped her throat so that she could not utter a word. She nodded. She knew that look. And she knew that nothing would stop Yeovangya when she had that look.

“You have to promise me that you won’t tell anyone anything, Yotu! Promise?”

“And lie to the king?” Yotu shivered at the mere thought.

“That would be Quemonne’s job. You just have to keep quiet. Promise?”

Yotu breathed out heavily and nodded in defeat. “Promise.”

“And Yotu,” her voice was but a whisper, “you have to bring me my father’s knapsack and a pair of sharp scissors tomorrow, please.”

Yotu’s eyes widened and her hands trembled. She opened her mouth to say something, but Yeovangya’s finger on her lips prevented her.

*

Yeovangya whistled to her dog. “Blaffi! Blaffi!”

The large, clumsy Saint Bernard appeared around the corner of the garden house. He barked and jumped up and down in front of her and waited impatiently for her to pat him on his head.

“Hello, my dearest little doggie.” She hugged and kissed him, pulled his ears and rubbed his belly when he rolled over on his back. When he sat up straight again, she whispered: “I must tell you a secret. I am going on a journey. You must look after Prr and Daddy and Yotu and Quemonne for me, will you?” She kissed him between his eyes. “Ooh, I will miss you and that lazy cat so-o-o much!”

Yeovangya lifted her head as she heard someone nearing the garden house. She peeped through the window, pleased to recognise Quemonne’s familiar profile against the dusky evening sky. She took a deep breath. He wouldn’t be a push over. She wished that she didn’t have to involve him, but she needed him on her side. He was the only one who could help her execute her plan and protect everyone involved.

Quemonne’s figure filled the door. He smiled at Yeovangya with somewhat of a frown between his eyes, knowing that their secret meeting was precisely that – secret. And that bothered him.

“Princess, something tells me that I’m not exactly here to be wined and dined?”

Yeovangya breathed in deeply and lifted her chin. “I love men with intellect. Now, if you were only an unmarried prince, General Quemonne…”

Quemonne smiled and wanted to respond to her remark, but decided against it. If only she knew about her father’s directive to the assembly that afternoon.

“What is it, Yeovangya? What are you up to?”

Yeovangya suppressed an urge to rebel against his tone of voice. He knew her too well and if she gave him the satisfaction of showing him that, he would give her his ‘I told you so’ look. “I’m going away for a while.”

Quemonne looked amazed. “I didn’t know the king had plans.”

She nodded. “The king doesn’t. I have.”

He frowned. His initial inability to understand changed into the realisation that his suspicions were correct. His eyes searched for confirmation in hers. “What are you planning?”

“Before I tell you I want to know that I can trust you.”

He was upset. “Yeovangya, you know that you can trust me!”

She held up her hands to calm him. “Yes, yes, I know I can normally trust you with my life and all those important things, but this is different. It’s not the kind of trust you’re used to.”

Quemonne threw his hands into the air and nodded his head fiercely, suddenly understanding where the conversation was going. “Oh, no! I am not going to lie to the king!”

“You don’t have to lie, Quemonne, you just have to withhold some information from him at first so that I can get away and then you must think of a strategy to keep him from coming after me.” She did the thing with her lips and eyebrows. She was stressed. This was where her plan was going to fail or succeed – by Quemonne’s co-operation or lack thereof.

Quemonne looked away. He shook his head again, pressed his lips together and looked her in the eye. “You know I can’t do that! Your father trusts me. And when it’s about his only child…”

“Quemonne, I need your help. My whole life is in this plan. I am not prepared to marry someone I don’t love and live unhappily ever after. You know that better than anyone does. I have to do this and you have to help me. Please?” Her initial dramatic pleading became desperate. “Please, Quemonne, you always say that I can trust you with anything. Can I trust you with my heart?”

Quemonne ran a hand through his dark brown curls. His eyes were fixed on the ground. How he wanted her to trust him with her heart!

Yeovangya knew that she had put him in an impossible position. She knew how highly her father thought of him and she knew that Quemonne would do everything in his power never to fail his king in any way. But, she needed his help even if it could cost him his job – and his life. He was her permit to happiness. Only him. This was the one time in her life that her father could not help her. She had to do this on her own.

“Please, Quemonne? My life, my future, my spirit, my heart… everything is in your hands…”

He looked at her as if he didn’t hear her talking. “Yeova, you’re asking the impossible!” His eyes pierced through hers.

For the first time in her life she wasn’t sure what she saw in them. He had beautiful eyes. Eyes with the heaven in them, she thought. It was as if she saw him for the first time as a man. He had a rugged attractiveness about him. His very dark brown hair curled behind his ears and made him look manly and playful at the same time. He had a strong, but kind face. But it was his eyes that kept her captive, now.

“Please, Quemonne, I cannot see myself with any of those men. Please…?”

Quemonne’s heart was beating painfully in his head. She was the dearest thing on earth to him. He knew that he couldn’t do what she asked of him, but he also knew that he couldn’t refuse. He loved her too much to see her life wasted away by a loveless marriage – if it was to him or anyone else.

He whispered. “I will help you. I don’t know how, but I will think of something.” There was only one thing to do. And if she had a plan, he had to make a better one.

She yelled, threw her arms around his neck and kissed him on his cheek. He took her arms from his neck and held her hands in his. His eyes were serious. “We have to plan this very well. Your father will kill me if anything happens to you.”

“Thank you, Quemonne.” She stood on the tips of her toes and kissed him on the cheek again.

*

She made sure to be in time for breakfast with her father. They talked and laughed and Yeovangya felt guilty for what she was about to do to him. It would be her last day in the palace before she left. She took extra care to spend as much time as possible with him the past few days. She still had a lot of things to take care of that afternoon. She had to pack the knapsack Yotu brought her from her father’s cupboard. She had to fit the clothes Quemonne brought her from his brother, Tanaka’s closet. Yotu did some alterations to fit Yeovangya’s much smaller frame. And then Yotu had to cut her hair after everyone had gone to bed. She and Quemonne arranged for him to fake a horse accident so that he could overnight in a room in her father’s wing of the palace instead of in his quarters. They would leave together in the dark hours of the next morning before the servants woke up.

“You seemed distracted, my love.” Her father’s voice was deep and calm, although she thought that he looked a bit off this morning.

“I… was thinking about this whole engagement thing.” It was true in a way. Her plans to leave and go on a husband finding expedition had everything to do with her getting engaged. “I’m really thankful for the extra time, Daddy. I promise you, if I haven’t found the right man when the year is over, I will marry whoever you choose for me.”

“Were none of those princes any good?”

Yeovangya did the lip thing. “Oh, they are all very fine, Father.” She paused. “Except for Prince Zazor and his brothers. I don’t like them at all.“ She sighed. “There were really good prospects. It’s just that no one seemed to get my heartbeat up.” She took a sip of her orange juice and gazed over the green lawns of the palace gardens. “Prince Ormael is pretty awesome. He’s intelligent and handsome, but he’ll bore me to death. Prince Danelyos has a great personality and he seems to have a sensitive soul also. He won’t be a bad choice. But I wouldn’t make him happy. Then there are a few others, but they wouldn’t do either.”

King Yeovaijk laughed out loud about his daughter’s remarks. She was a kind soul, despite of being an only, spoiled child of a lonesome king, and he would have given his whole kingdom and his life for her happiness and welfare. How he wished that she would find real love! He desired nothing less for himself years ago. Maybe if he didn’t experience it himself, he would have been more adamant for her to settle down. But he knew what true love was and that is what he prayed his only daughter would find. He couldn’t stand the thought of her being unhappy for even one day.

“Now you’re the one who’s distracted.”

“I’m sorry. I was thinking…” He picked up his fork. “I really want you to live a fulfilling life, my child, and I will try to give you enough time and space for it to happen. I pray every day that you will find the kind of love that your mother and I had. I just pray that you will experience it for longer than we did.”

“Thanks, Daddy. Do you have someone in mind for me, Daddy?”

He smiled, nodded and raised an eyebrow.

Her mouthed opened in surprise. “Who is it?”

“If you don’t find your true love in three hundred and sixty days, you will see.” He laughed, loving to see his daughter lost for words.

Yeovangya had to look down at her food for a while, so that her father couldn’t see the tears in her eyes. He knew her too well. He put his hand under her chin and forced her to look him in the eye. She saw the emotion glistening in his eyes too.

“Whatever happens, dear, I love you.”

She was surprised by his words, as if he knew that she was planning something. But how could he?

*

Everything worked out as planned. The knapsack was packed with her journal and feather ink pen, a few personal things, bandages and two sets of Tanaka’s altered clothes. She had an extra set waiting on her bed for the journey. Lamya, Quemonne and Tanaka’s sister and Yeovangya’s dear friend, came to visit and without her knowing, Yeovangya said her good-byes. They were like sisters, as Quiana – Quemonne, Tanaka and Lamya’s mother – was a regular guest of the king. She became the king’s trusted friend and companion since Yeovangya was still a very young girl. Sometimes they felt like one big family when they were together. She wished that her father would marry Quiana, so that he wouldn’t be that alone anymore. She couldn’t leave without at least seeing Lamya again, but Quemonne warned her not to let anyone else but him and Yotu in on the plan. She was going to miss them all so much, she realised with a bit of sadness creeping into her heart.

After Lamya left, Yotu brought the scissors with which she gave Yeovangya a whole new look. She cried when she cut off the first of the curly locks, but Yeovangya raised her eyebrows, gave her a stern look and commanded her to be a good servant.

Yeovangya looked at herself in the mirror. A stranger looked back. The figure in the mirror looked like that of a young, nerdish boy. She smiled satisfied and complimented Yotu’s work.

“Perfect!”

Yotu left with a heavy heart after they finally said farewell.

*

The palace was quiet. She went out onto the balcony of her chambers. She could see every corner of the moonlit gardens. She wondered how many times in the next few months she would long for the peace and calmness of the long shadows, the outstretched lawns and the fragrance of all her favourite flowers. She adored it. She loved strolling through it with her father and sometimes with Quemonne, Lamya or Yotu. Some nights she went out secretly with Blaffi and Prr, just to find Quemonne at her side after a few minutes, protecting her against the evil that the darkness never brought. After her mother died, she used to go out to the little bench in the middle of her father’s private garden in the evenings, where the three of them used to sit before she had to go to bed. Sometimes she would find her father there and she would cry herself to sleep on his lap. She would wake up in his bed the next morning, with Blaffi and Prr patiently watching over her.

Her heart beat faster as her thoughts was forced back to her upcoming journey. What a crazy, crazy adventure she was about to embark on! She took a last look at the trees, the cobbled paths, the little fountains, the flowers, and the big tree with the bench underneath it. She looked at the windows of the quarters where Quemonne was staying. She wondered what he was doing as there was still light in his window. She looked at the dark windows of her father’s quarters and took a deep breath.

She closed her eyes. “Oh, please keep me safe on this journey and help me find the husband who was made for me in time.”

She opened her eyes and looked up at the moon and remembered that the same moon shining over her father’s palace at night, will be lighting her way throughout the journey. She smiled, went into her bedroom and closed the doors behind her.

*

They managed to get out of the palace’s sight without any problems. They let the horses walk in the direction of the harbour for about a kilometre. Quemonne forced her to take Blaffi and Prr with her, “so that she would not be so alone on her journey”. She was relieved that they were going to accompany her. At least she would have someone from home with her. Blaffi was walking with them, while Prr snuggled up in the basket Quemonne attached for her on Tan-Tan’s back. She was a spoiled palace brat, who behaved as if she was the queen of the castle, but she would be a great companion if she managed not to anger Blaffi too much.

“We can go now.”

Quemonne waited for her to get on Tan-Tan’s back, before he got onto his stallion, Croxley’s. They had arranged that Quemonne would see her off at the harbour. He would help her to get on the boat to Quiano and then he would be back at the palace before first light and before anyone noticed that he was gone. They rode in silence almost all the way.

There was a buzz in the still-dark harbour when they arrived. Quemonne bought a ticket at the office and made certain that Yeovangya had everything she needed. He gave Blaffi and Prr and the horses some water to drink. He would take both the horses back to the palace’s stables and told the king that she sent someone back to deliver Tan-Tan safely, together with a letter to tell her father about her plans and asking him not to come after her. Quemonne would then have happened to be at the stables when the ‘person’ arrived.

Yeovangya was glad that everything worked out well and that Quemonne was in on her plan. Without him, her journey would have been doomed. She would be thankful to him for the rest of her life, even if she didn’t find the love of her life and had to settle for her father’s choice of a husband. At least she would know that she had followed her heart and tried.

“So, this is it.” Quemonne said softly.

“Yes.” She looked up at him. She was wondering what he thought about her boyish look. “Thank you, Quemonne.”

She couldn’t see his eyes in the dim light of the lamp. They stood alone at the end of the harbour, between the horses. Prr and Blaffi hung around excitedly, unsure of what was happening.

Quemonne took her hands in his. To a bystander it would look like a father seeing off his young son, who was about to take his first trip into the world.

“Look after yourself, Yeovangya.” He rarely called her by her full name. “My prayers will be all about you.”

“Thank you, Quemonne.” She whispered and looked at him, uncertain of how the farewell was supposed to go. “I must be off now.”

“Yes.”

She turned around; ready to start the toughest thing she had ever done in her life. Just as suddenly as she turned, she was held back by Quemonne’s strong grip around her upper arm. Without any warning, he took her in his arms and kissed her. At first, she was so taken aback that she stood motionless in his embrace. Then something happened within her and for a moment, that tender kiss became her whole life. Then, again as unexpectedly as he pulled her to him, Quemonne let her go, took Tan-Tan’s bridle, got onto Croxley’s back and became one with the early, dark morning.

Unable to move, Yeovangya stared into the darkness. She stood listening to the sound of the two horses’ hooves against the cobbled path, her heart galloping to their rhythm.

It was her first ever kiss.

Buy the eBook now.

© 2021 Fielies De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopefullest writer. Foreverest dreamer. Living in a coastal village in the Overberg, South Africa, with a husband and two dogs in a small heritage house, and an adult, recently-graduated, and now, content-writing-job-seeking son in the garden cottage. His CV is available on request. 🙂

First-of-its-kind Creative Writing Prompts Niche Book for Car Lovers

125 Creative Writing Prompts for Petrolheads, is a first writing prompts book completely dedicated to creative writing prompts about cars.

It is ideal for:

  • Motoring journalists to boost thinking-out-of-the-box creativity and to get new ideas for articles.
  • Teachers to add some fun to writing exercises in the classroom.
  • Writers of any genre who use prompts for relaxation or for challenging creative abilities.
  • Anyone who wants to boost their creativity.
  • Gifts for car lovers.

The book includes information on free writing and on how to use writing prompts. 125 Creative Writing Prompts for Petrolheads is available in paperback and as an ebook on Amazon Kindle Books.

Rev up your creativity with anything from memory-inspired nostalgic prompts to outlandishly silly ones.

Search on Amazon Kindle Books by the title or use the link https://amzn.to/3lwaUPh to purchase a copy for yourself or a petrolhead in your life.

About the Authors

Fielies De Kock and Michael De Kock is a mother-and-son team who collaborated for the first time on this book. Both are bloggers. Michael is a passionate car buff. Fielies likes blue ones.

125 Creative Writing Prompts for Petrolheads now Available on Amazon Kindle

Purchace your copy at https://amzn.to/3lwaUPh

125 Creative Writing Prompts for Petrolheads, my latest eBook, and the first collaboration with my son, is now available on Amazon Kindle Books. (Available in paperback and as an ebook.)

It will provide you, or a petrolhead in your life, with hours of fun.

Search on Amazon Kindle by title or use the link 125 Creative Writing Prompts for Petrolheads, my latest book, and the first collaboration with my son, is now available on Amazon Kindle Books.

It will provide you, or a petrolhead in your life, with hours of fun. (Available in paperback and ebook.)

Search on Amazon Kindle by the title or use the link https://amzn.to/3lwaUPh to purchase your copy.

My New eBook is Available!

My latest eBook – now available on Amazon Kindle eBooks

125 Creative Writing Prompts for Petrolheads, my latest eBook, and the first collaboration with my son (michaeldekock.com), is now available on Amazon Kindle Books.

It will provide you, or a petrolhead in your life, with hours of fun.  (Also available in paperback.)

Search on Amazon Kindle by title or use the link https://amzn.to/3lwaUPh to purchase your copy.

125 Creative Writing Prompts for Petrolheads is a book (the first of a niche-inspired series) for the word lover who is also car crazy. Accelerate your writing with some out-of-the (gear)box scribbling – if you are just writing for fun or if you are an experienced ‘old’ hand, thinking that you have already written it all.

Get your creativity revved up with anything from memory-inspired nostalgic prompts to outlandishly silly ones. Whether it is for yourself or a gift to your dad, petrolhead girlfriend or bro, it will put some vroom in your writing life.

Winter is Whale Time in Hermanus!

Hermanus is in the privileged position to not only be a great summer destination, but also have more than enough to lure holidaymakers to its shores during wintertime. The reason? The annual return of the Southern Right Whales, of course!

With 2020 and 2019 not being the best whale seasons with regard to the number of whales returning, we hope that the three-year cycle will not disappoint and that there will be more to see this year. If the local Bryde’s Whales’ generous presence during the last few months in the bay is something to go by, we might just be in luck this year.

Hermanus is one of the twelve best whale watching destinations in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Walker Bay (the bay area between Hermanus and Gansbaai) is famous for being the breeding grounds for the Southern Right Whales, travelling all the way from their feeding grounds around Antarctica. The whales normally arrive from the end of May and entertain locals and holidaymakers until the middle of October.

When to Come

The best time to see whale moms and calves frolicking in the bay, is from end of June to November. The climax of the season was normally the Whale Festival on the last weekend of September, but unfortunately, the festival is postponed until 2022. Fortunately though, Hermanus and surrounding areas have more than enough other charms, such as wineries, fantastic restaurants with delicious food, adventure sports, lots of walking opportunities etc. for a memorable holiday.

How and Where to Watch the Whales

Hermanus has whale watching boats which take visitors to experience the whales up close and personal. Book in advance (online or at the offices in the new harbour) and keep in mind that all boat trips are weather permitting.

For visitors on a tighter budget or for those preferring not going on boats, the good news is that the whales are visible from the promenade – with Gearing’s Point, the Old Harbour (in the CBD-area) and further alongside the coast, with Die Gang and Siever’s Punt, popular places to watch from. Hermanus’ own whale crier could be found on busy days, blowing on his kelp horn in town when a whale is observed.

What to pack when visiting Hermanus to do Whale Watching

From May to August we can have anything from wonderful sunny beach days to days when the wind tries to blow one away to heavy stormy weather! Although spring starts showing its warmth in the rest of South Africa from August, Hermanus can see some of the coldest days during September and October, with rainy and windy days sandwiched in between beautiful wind-still days. So, when packing, keep the following in mind:

  • Bring a raincoat/jacket and an umbrella.
  • Pack a wind breaking jacket and warm clothes for cold weather and layer when getting clothed in the morning.
  • With the cool sea breeze almost a constant, carry a jacket, scarf and beanie when going out.
  • Bringing good binoculars will ensure a great viewing experience.
  • Although cell phone cameras are incredibly good these days, bring a DSLR or small camera if you have one. If going on a boat, you might be able to take close-up photos of whales, but from the shore you will need a camera with a good zoom ability.
  • Good walking shoes is a must for going ‘whale hunting’ from spot to spot in the village to get good pictures.

Planning your Stay

Most places of accommodation have Covid specials which might surprise you, so even if your budget is tight, don’t shy away of staying long enough. A weekend in Hermanus is a nice break away, but to enjoy more of the village and the surrounding areas, you need at least four days. A week would be better!

Other related links:

What to do in Hermanus and the Overberg

About whales:

Security tips:

More things to do in and around Hermanus:

© 2021 Fielies De Kock

HERMANUS UNLIMITED is a travel writing blog showcasing Hermanus and surrounding areas through photos and articles. Ads for businesses may be added at a later stage.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Hermanus-Unlimited-118490463355941

Instagram: @hermanus_unlimited

Email: hermanusunlimited@gmail.com

Partnering with House Watchers Hermanus

The Cat is out of the Hat – History is Repeating Itself

I normally write blog entries about things that I love and find interesting and almost never rant here. I have decided today though, to speak a bit of my mind, because I am worried about where ‘we’ are going with freedom in this world of ours.

By now every reader had probably heard about certain Dr Seuss books being withdrawn from the market. You can find out about it here: https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-56250658

I don’t know why we always have to be seen as ‘left’ or ‘right’ when we raise an opinion. What happened to be decent, having common sense, choosing the midway? Sometimes things are not just black or white, but actually grey or yellow or purple or blue or orange with green dots. This is after all something liberal thinkers fought for throughout the centuries! Many even died for it!

(Maybe it is because we are mostly exposed to/dependant on American commentary and entertainment and they – the biggest democracy in the world – has only two political choices available – either Democrat or Republican! You guessed it – left or right. The in-between parties are for all practical purposes non-existent. And maybe this – their political choice – had spiralled downwards into every other inch of society. But, that’s just my [in-between] opinion.)

I look at events these days and think that modern liberal thinkers had lost the plot, because one see more and more Nazi-like censorship from liberal (!) sources everywhere. It makes me sad, and frankly, quite scared. Like the SS did in the 1930s, we are being told what to believe, what to discard, what is right, what is wrong etc. and this is all done under the flag of political (and social) correctness. And by doing so, they kill those fighters for freedom of speech all over again!

What happened to common sense? What happened to reading literature in context and then have discussions over it instead of just banning authors. Isn’t that one of the reasons why we read? How will our children learn to think critically if they don’t have access to read (even politically incorrect) literature and ask questions about it? Do ‘we’ want to raise little obedient, non-thinking, political-correct robot people? It seems more and more that it is coming to this.

Are ‘we’ back to burning books again? Yes, ‘we’ are. ‘We’ have just burned Dr Seuss books.

History is repeating itself.

This Dr Seuss-like story is a reply to the sad affair by author Laura Ainsworth: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8N6RiNuMAX8. Quite sharp I thought.

(WARNING: This is not socially or politically correct reading.)

Load Shedding Memories

We all loath load shedding. Of course. But secretly I enjoy it when it is scheduled late in the evenings. We have a few useful lights we use, but in our bathroom we light candles, which transform the room into a place that takes me way back into time. With every flickering of a candle and in every dancing shadow, I am transported back to a simple and innocent time before there was Eskom power on farms.

Way back, every evening offered a candle lit dinner and weekend nights were filled with all the people I loved back then, around a table – either in our kitchen or in a kitchen of my parents’ friends. Those were happy, happy days.

There were no phones intruding in a dinner conversation and no social media to capture an aunt’s embarrassment if she had one glass too many. Children sat with adults around the table, listening to adult conversation, but were mostly only heard when laughing at a joke or an anecdote.

I’m not naïve enough to say “those were the good old days”, because there are many better things available to us nowadays and many bad things were going on in those days, but our parents knew how to live good lives above their circumstances.

Those nights by the candle light were wonderful and memorable and every flickering of every candle I light, will always remind me of those moments and of the people whose faces the shadows gently caressed around those tables – most of which are now gone.

So now load shedding gives us the opportunity to light candles to make new (non-virtual/digital/electronic) memories with our families. I’m almost sure that our children would one day look back and not talk about 2020/21 as ‘simple’ or ‘innocent’ times, but with a bit of living-in-the-moment-on-purpose and less absent-minded time spent on our phones, we just might create memorable nights for our children and grandchildren to remember one day.

#loadsheddingmemories

© 2021 Fielies De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopefullest writer. Foreverest dreamer. Living in a coastal village in the Overberg, South Africa, with a husband and two dogs in a small heritage house, and an adult, recently-graduated, job-seeking son in the garden cottage. His CV is available on request. 🙂

5 Reasons why you Absolutely should Visit Hermanus

  1. It is nestled in the heart of the Overberg region

The Overberg region includes Hermanus, Gansbaai, Kleinmond, Betty’s Bay, Stanford, Greyton and many more picturesque towns which can be visited during short day trips while on holiday in Hermanus. Visit SA Places at https://www.places.co.za/html/towns_in_the_overberg.html to read more about these beauties waiting for you to visit.

2              Hemel-en-Aarde Valley Wines

Hermanus has got its own wine route in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley (translation: Heaven and Earth Valley). Click here to plan your wineries visits – https://www.decanter.com/wine-travel/south-africa/hemel-en-aarde-wineries-to-visit-378182/ or make use of the wine hopper from Market Square in Hermanus. Learn more here: https://www.hermanuswinehoppers.co.za/. This is a fun and safe way to visit farms without having to drive. It is ideal for families and small groups.

3              The Fynbos

Fynbos is the generic name for a great variety of fine-leafed plants, with more than 9 000 of the 30 000 species being indigenous and unique only to the Western Cape region of South Africa. Fynbos doesn’t grow naturally anywhere else in the world. Learn more about fynbos here: http://www.percytours.com/fynbos-plants-cape-floral-kingdom.html#.X75UaGgzbDc. A long or short hike in Fernkloof and on the cliff path in Hermanus showcases thousands of species. The Harold Porter Botanical Garden in Betty’s Bay (https://www.sanbi.org/gardens/harold-porter/) is just a stone’s throw away and offers a great morning or afternoon outing for the whole family.  

4              Everything the Village has to Offer

Hermanus has some of the best restaurants in South Africa (and we locals believe in the world). The promenade is lined with restaurants with magnificent ocean views, but there are jewels to be found in the heart of the village, offering fantastic food. Walk around to find them or look them up on the Internet. In the December holiday period, booking is essential.

Hiking on the cliff path, in the mountain in Fernkloof, cycling, kayaking and canoeing on good weather days are just a few outdoors things to do. Hermanus Sportsclub (http://www.hermanussport.co.za/) offers tennis and squash and has a restaurant too.

Hermanus has 20 art galleries and a display of outdoor art at Gearing’s Point as part of FynArts Hermanus (https://www.hermanusfynarts.co.za/).

5              The Beaches

Grotto Beach is Hermanus’ Blue Flag pride with loads of space to swim, surf, sit in the sun or having long walks. The estuary mouth is currently open, which offers canoeing, kitesurfing and swimming opportunities.

Voëlklip, Kammabaai (ideal for families with small children) and Langbaai are more intimate beaches and ideal to enjoy a sunset picnic.

Neighbouring beaches include Onrus, Sandbaai and Hawston.

And there you have it – just a few reasons why Hermanus is such an irresistible place to keep coming back to. Again and again. And again. And again. And…

Read here for more about Hermanus and things to do: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/10/09/hermanus_is_awaiting_you/

Make sure not to let down your guard while on holiday, so also read my blog entry on how to stay safe in Hermanus at https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/12/16/your-guide-to-a-safe-hermanus-holiday/.

PHOTOS: Fielies de Kock

© 2020 Fielies De Kock

HERMANUS UNLIMITED is a travel writing blog showcasing Hermanus and surrounding areas through photos and articles. Ads for businesses may be added at a later stage.

Hermanus is Awaiting your Visit

Hermanus is a picturesque village in the Western Cape, South Africa, nestled in Walker Bay, between the fynbos-dressed Overberg Mountains and the cold Atlantic Ocean. Although Hermanus is a smallish town, it has a big town feeling with a wonderful vibe and lots of events taking place.

As everywhere else, the restrictions during the Covid-19 lockdown had also left its dirty prints on the town and business owners are doing what they can to up the area’s economy and provide employment for residents and travel opportunities for tourists again.

Although the annual Flower Festival (second last weekend in September) and the Whale Festival (last weekend in September) was cancelled this year due to the pandemic, other activities are slowly starting to happen again. The monthly First Fridays Art Walk (September to April) commenced in September and although it was a bit of a subdued affair – probably due to the fact that no wine and snacks were served – it was a necessary step in normalising village life in Hermanus again.

Hermanus is a convenient one and a half hour-drive from Cape Town which provides an easy daytrip opportunity for someone on a limited time budget. Be warned though – a day in the village will not even cover the basics, while a visit of four days or so will give one at least an idea of what the town has to offer.

Here are a few pointers to keep in mind when planning your visit to our beautiful little village:

  • Book in advance to ensure your stay at one of the many guest houses or hotels.
  • Make sure to include a Saturday in your trip planning to visit one or more of the markets and and also one of the more than twenty art galleries in the area. Also keep the art walk on the first Friday of every month.
  • Start your visit in Hermanus with a trip up the Rotary Way to the top of the mountain to enjoy the view of the whole of Walker Bay.
  • The town offers quite a few walking options. There are various routes into the mountain from the Fernkloof Nature Reserve as well as a cliff path walk along Hermanus’ 7.5km coastline from the new harbour to Grotto Beach (or the other way around). One of the local taxi services can be used for transport to the beginning and from the end point. You can also walk shorter distances on the cliff path from anywhere you stay in town to enjoy the beautiful fynbos.
  • For nature lovers there are plenty to see. The area is part of the Cape Floral Kingdom with plenty unique fynbos species to be observed.
  • Weekly Parkruns can be attended on Saturday mornings at the venue on the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley road (after lockdown).
  • Other physical activities to explore in the area are surfing, mountain biking, fat biking on the beaches, scuba diving, kite surfing, sandboarding, sea fishing, kayaking, etc.
  • During the months of August through to early November travellers flock to Hermanus to see Southern Right Whales frolicking in the bay with their new-born calves. They can be watched from the shore or from one of the whale watching boats if weather permits.
  • On wind-quiet, sunny days, kayaking is a wonderful way to get exercise as well as do some on-water sightseeing between the two harbours.
  • The town has no shortage of beaches with the main beach, Grotto, being the largest. On windy days, the estuary is a favourite playground for kite surfers. Alongside the cliff path lies Voëlklip (famous for surfing), Langbaai, which is small and intimate; and Kammabaai – a favourite for parents with small children and also suitable for surfing. Mosselrivier and Kwaaiwater beaches are also well-liked, with Kwaaiwater’s beach being a popular picnic area to lazy away summer evenings when the sun only sets after eight o’clock.
  • Hermanus’ restaurants are world-class and the road alongside the marine is lined with many options offering delicious food and the most beautiful views.
  • For art lovers there are 20 art galleries to visit around town as well as outdoor sculptures to adore as part of the annual FynArts Festival (in June).
  • The Hemel-en-Aarde Valley is Hermanus’ contribution to South Africa’s wine industry and offer fourteen wineries to visit for wine tasting and other activities. Tours are available from the Market Square to ensure that tourists do not drive under the influence.
  • Hermanus is a favourite extreme sports destination, sometimes featuring a leg of the Cape Epic. Other activities include hang gliding, zip lining etc. (on the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley road).
  • Other places to visit are the old and new harbours, the many sites alongside the cliff path from where one can appreciate the view from a wooden bench on the rocks, Hoy’s koppie in the middle of the town and the surrounding suburbs of Onrus, Sandbaai and Vermont. Gansbaai, Stanford (and De Kelders are also close by which provides more entertainment opportunities such as river cruising, fishing and much more.
  • Hermanus is a photographer’s paradise, so bring your camera and tripod or test your cell phone’s picture taking abilities. You will not be disappointed!

Unfortunately, not even beautiful Hermanus is excluded from crime, so always be alert, especially when walking. Preferably, always walk in pairs at least. Read here how to stay safe in Hermanus during your holiday (and also to get a list of emergency numbers).

To avoid unbalance advertising regarding businesses, I don’t include links to businesses in this article. You can just search to find what you want.

So – don’t even bother wondering about where to go to for your next break away. Come and see why we are raving about our beautiful village. Hermanus is awaiting your visit.

© 2020  Fielies De Kock

HERMANUS UNLIMITED is a travel writing blog showcasing Hermanus and surrounding areas through photos and articles. Ads for businesses may be added at a later stage.

Read full articles at www.fieliesdekock.com

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Partnering with House Watchers Hermanus

Time to Practice the ‘Need to Know’ Principle

I was in the army (and air force) long ago, where I learned a lot of helpful skills I still apply in my life today. (I will get to that in a few paragraphs.)

By now we are beyond the point where the tekkie hit the tar (South African for ‘the rubber meets the road). It’s Day 17 of the national lockdown in SA due to the Covid-19 virus and our president has already increased the proposed 21-day lockdown with at least a further two weeks.

In the beginning it was almost fun. Everyone forwarded jokes and kept Facebook diaries of their days, their improvisations, their silliness. Nobody really expected the lockdown to be lifted after only 21 days, by hey, one could hope…

The whole Corona epidemic is a rollercoaster experience for me. I didn’t particularly look forward to the lockdown, as I presume was the case with everyone else, because limitation of movement isn’t exactly anyone’s idea of a free life. But nevertheless, we all went into it positively. I still am positive – one have to be (!), but like everything new, this also wore down pretty quickly.

I too, follow the news and read everything that passed my phone screen in the beginning. The jokes were hilarious and still are, the motivational video clips and spiritual songs are uplifting, beautiful and emotional and the updates from friends, families and strangers on social media makes one smile and sometimes laugh loud. All fun and games.

But. I’m also a person who, like many of you, gets bored easily. I get fatigued very, very quickly. And my Corona fatigue started already before the lockdown! Getting fatigued can be a very dangerous thing, because what can happen is that you just switch off and ignore the situation that bores you or make you tired and can miss the things you really need to keep you safe, sound and healthy.

This Covid-19 epidemic is something really puzzling. We all ‘know’ now where it originated from, we have the ’facts’ about the virus and we are getting ‘updates’ on the spread daily. I put those in quotation marks, because I’m not sure that we get the real picture. Actually, I am sure. I have so many unanswered questions about this pandemic, which probably would never be answered. We are being given information from governments’ sides, we are bombarded with ‘expert’ opinions and on top of that, our feeds are flooded with conspiracy theories. It’s very confusing and difficult to really know what goes on, where it goes on and what precisely is done about it.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe everything we’ve been told. Not just about Covid-19, but in life generally. That doesn’t make me a conspiracist – just a realist. I like a good conspiracy theory though, and being a creative writer, I can even think up a few myself easily – although I never go public with it. I’ll leave it for my novels one day. 😊

Our family has quite easy circumstances to being locked down in, so we really have no reason to complain. But we are still humans. And humans tend to feel human emotions when their circumstances change. On Day 8 I felt cooped in for the first time. I could hear my husband sigh when he went to the kitchen in the morning to make coffee, and I’m sure he hears mine when I go to the bathroom in the morning and the realisation of another locked in day kicked in. Day 11 was tough again. Today is easier to stay in because of the wind storming outside. The point is even though we have comfortable circumstance to do it in, any limitations take their toll on the physically and mentally and causes our emotions to go up and down by the things that enters our minds.

And this is where my remark about being in the army comes in. One of the first things you learned when entering any defence force is the very important THE NEED TO KNOW-principle. This is for your own good, you learn, because what you did not know, you could not tell and couldn’t hurt you. This meant that a great deal of discipline had to be practiced. You were to stay out of conversations where you would hear what you were not supposed to hear and out of places you didn’t belong. We all know that we are by nature curious, so it is very tempting to listen to gossiping, do things which can be harmful to us and watching things that are not good for us. After all, we now have access to almost any information we want.

In today’s circumstances this is more relevant than ever. We can listen to and believe everything we read or watch on our phones and forward it to our as-gullible family members and friends. When an overwhelming lot of information is going around as is the case at the moment, it can drive us mad.

Be honest. Can you even remember all the information, jokes, videos, songs you’ve seen during the past few weeks? Of course you can’t, because we have been bombarded with information – good and bad. We are getting overloaded by the news, social media and our friends and family. So, that overwhelming feeling you sometimes get after reading or watching another post is very normal.

Now, on Day 17 it maybe is a good time to get a bit more disciplined in an effort to keep our sanity. We are in the middle of lockdown and the toughest part is still coming. Lockdown can even be extended again, so now is a good time to start taking better care of yourself mentally. And this is where we can implement and practice the NEED TO KNOW principle. This is where you start making decisions to your advantage – and to advantage of all those you love.

  • It is a time to start reading selectively. Read and watch only what you need to know to stay safe and healthy.
  • Laugh about and share the funny jokes.
  • Listen to good messages with sound spiritual input.
  • Don’t forward fake news and conspiracy theories. Check facts before forwarding and overwhelming others with info that they DON’T NEED TO KNOW!
  • Put down your phone. You don’t need to be on it the 24/7/365. Read something printed on paper. Like a good book. And The Good Book!
  • Keep a routine, but also do something out of the ordinary every day.
  • Exercise – even if you have to run in one place while watching a TV program. Everyone can exercise, no matter how small their place is.
  • Be creative. Build something, draw something, write something, bake something, sew something, plant something… We are people made to create, not to just duplicate (or forwarding in this context).
  • Don’t read or watch Covid-19 any other news just before going to bed.
  • Most of all – keep spiritually strong. Read the Word of God, meditate upon it and pray for all.
  • And lastly – give thanks for what you have and for your circumstances.

The virus and its effects are still with us and it will be with us for quite a while longer. We must stay strong from the inside. There was an old WWII poster stating ‘Loose lips may sink ships’. Listening to and believing everything we hear and forwarding it to everyone we know, isn’t something responsible people who love their friends and family do. Discipline yourself. It starts with me and you.

Keep your ship afloat. It still has places to go after this.

© 2020 Fielies De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopefullest writer. Foreverest dreamer. Living in a coastal village in the Overberg, South Africa, with a husband and two dogs in a small heritage house, and an adult, recently-graduated, job-seeking son in the garden cottage. His CV is available on request. 🙂🙂🙂

Related blog posts: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/03/26/were-all-riding-in-this-corona-bus-together/

Related blog posts: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/03/27/in-the-beginning-we-were-created-to-be-creative/

Related blog posts: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/03/31/family-traditions-creates-unbreakable-bonds-and-awesome-memories/

Family Traditions Creates Unbreakable Bonds and Awesome Memories

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What do the Sunday night movie, playing Monopoly on holidays and eating dinner at the table have in common? They are the glue that bonds a family together.

According to https://www.childhelp.org/ family traditions are handed down from generation to generation and add to the rhythm and seasonality of life.

What are Family Traditions?

They are those things we tend to repeat doing when we are together, like the things mentioned above. Family traditions differ from family to family and are normally just simple things we do that we as a family love, like having rowdy conversations around the dinner table as the Italians and Greeks tend to have. Or it is taking that annual holiday to the same place every year. So many of my husband’s childhood memories derive from their seaside family holidays, so much so that we live in the town they had their holidays in! My family didn’t have seaside holidays, but we had a big mass of water nearby where we lived and we went camping there over the Christmas season when I was little. It was also my birthday this time of year and to me it felt as if I had my birthday every day during those holidays, as different family members arrived daily with gifts for me!

Family Traditions look Different and can Literally be Anything!

Times have changed and so have the activities we do. But we still participate in traditions – even though we don’t even think of them as ‘traditions’. Mom and the girls going to the mall on a Saturday morning, Dad playing cricket with the boys in the garden on Sunday afternoons, visiting the grandparents for Saturday braai or watching the rugby together, are all good examples of South African family traditions.

The Advantages of Family Traditions

Other than helping the family to bond, it also builds children’s confidence, because their parents are spending some real time with them. That makes them feel grounded and safe and help them to be more outgoing and courageous. You can read up more on the advantages of family traditions on your own.

Family Traditions in the Time of the Corona Virus

Yep, we are locked in and can’t even take our dogs for a walk in the streets, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t still do things together. We are after all, cooped up together like never, ever before in our lifetimes! So, this makes it a perfect time to bring back some old family traditions or establish new ones.

If you have stopped or never eaten together at a table as a family, start doing that – even if it is for only one meal a day. Here are a few pointers for this:

  • Ban cell phones from the table and keep a few conversation starters handy to get your family talking to each other again.
  • Research a few good conversation topics which are fitting for your family’s age.
  • Allow difference of opinion, but make sure to establish rules so that it is still done respectfully and things don’t get ugly. If we teach our children to have an opinion and speak their minds at home, educators don’t have to teach them what they want to teach them.
  • Start debates about different topics. Divide everyone present into two groups and let them debate two sides of a topic. When things get heated, change it around. It is fun to see everyone suddenly out of their comfort zones when having to defend the other side! And it normally ends fights immediately.

Play together, whether it is board games or games in the garden. And don’t stop when the lockdown is over.

Create something together, such as cooking, baking and braaiing, making clothes, building puzzles, building lego or whatever your family is into.

Try to teach your children something regularly during the lockdown, but keep doing it hereafter. Teach them to pray and care for others, braai, plant veggies, snoei trees, play chess, build something out of wood, do DIY chores in the house etc. Doing this on a regular basis will not only teach them skills, but give them confidence and the ability to do things for by themselves and for themselves.

Read together. Read bedtime stories to your children from day one. (Yes, they need to hear stories in their dads’ and moms’ voices from an early age.) When they are older (and now during lockdown) you can lie around reading for a few hours a day.

Start a thanksgiving tradition, either at the breakfast or dinner table or whenever you are all gathered together and bored during the lockdown. Think about those less privileged during this time and start a ‘Thank You’ jar where you can all contribute with things you are thankful written on a piece of paper and put into the jar. Open in up in a year’s time or so and read it aloud around the table while eating.

These are just a few examples. There are lots more. You know what your family love doing. Dust off a few old ones or start new traditions. Search the Internet for more ideas if you need to.

Keeping it Up

Our young adult son is still with us at home. We continue doing things together as a family on a regular basis, such as eating together every meal, even though he lives outside in the cottage. We go for picnics at the beach and going on Sunday exploring rides etc. My sister-in-law’s two adult children are having dinner with them every Sunday evening. Some dads and their adult sons have weekly squash appointments. You get the point.

So, when this lockdown is over or when the children are all grown up, don’t stop with the traditions. Many South African families are split up and live all over the world, but with the technology available these days, we can still be ‘together’. Make a family group call on a week night/morning (depending on time differences) and kuier together on Skype or WhatsApp video calls.

Do whatever it takes to keep your family traditions going, because they create awesome and precious memories for your children which they will carry over to their children.

 

© 2020 Fielies De Kock 

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopefullest writer. Foreverest dreamer. Living in a coastal village in the Overberg, South Africa, with a husband and two dogs in a small heritage house, and an adult, recently-graduated, job-seeking son in the garden cottage. His CV is available on request. 🙂🙂🙂

 

What Happens Between “Enchanté” and “Auf Wiedersehen”

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A longish note to everyone we met during our almost four and a half years stay in Egypt.

 

When we Afrikaners meet someone for the first time, we like to greet them with the words “Bly te kenne”. These words literally translate to ‘may we keep knowing each other’.

At that point, the person you meet is just another stranger about whom you know nothing, except his or her name – if you manage to catch, pronounce and remember it! But as time goes by and you meet again and again you learn to pronounce their names correctly, meet their families – either in person or by hearing about them. You eventually learn about the person’s passions, talents, joys and heartbreaks. And then suddenly they are unfamiliar no more.

During our five summers in Cairo we met quite a few people, who by sharing similar experiences, challenges, difficulties and fun, had transformed from strangers into dear friends. Fortunately, living in an ever-changing international community for a while, there are plenty of opportunities to say “Bly te kenne” or “Nice to meet you” or “Enchanté”. Unfortunately during this temporary expat life, another phrase is being used way too often too, because coming and going is a given in this type of lifestyle.

Saying goodbye is never easy and when you have to do it that often, it really “sucks”, to quote our American friends. At first there are goodbyes to family and friends when you first leave to go live in a foreign country in a foreign culture between foreign people. And then there are all the in-between goodbyes when you go home on holiday and return – just to leave your loved ones behind again. And again.  And again. And again…

But then, all of a sudden the day arrives when you have to say goodbye to the foreigners – the strangers whom you met at a reception or a coffee morning or a welcoming party or in the street or at work, and who, in a short period of time, became friends. People who made your stay in a foreign place less foreign. Who helped turn uncomfortable into comfortable. Whose unknown faces had become so familiar and loved that you can’t imagine saying goodbye to them to probably never see them ever again! And that thought is just unthinkable!

So, for that purpose we have another wonderful phrase in Afrikaans and in some other languages with which we try to ease the pain of saying goodbye. We say “Tot weersiens”, which means ‘until we see each other’ – much like the Hebrew l’hitra’ot or the French a bientôt or the German ‘auf wiedesehen’.

If we say “Until we meet again”, we all know that – even if the goodbye part is inevitable for the now – we keep the hope afloat to meet again, because who knows? It just might happen! It already happened when we went on holiday to Greece and met up with old Cairo friends there and when some of our American friends visited us at home while on holiday! So, anything is possible!

Saying goodbye is too final. It means it’s over and done with. Finished. It shuts the door on hope. Goodbyes are no good. They are hope killers and killing hope is not good for one’s soul.

So, after this long account, I’ll come to the point. This note is not a hope killer. This is not our goodbye to you. This is just to say thanks to you for all the laughs and cries we shared. For the many, many, many glasses of wine we had together – and for lamenting together over all those almost-full glasses we lost to over-eager Egyptian waiters! And for all the caipirinhas (“por favor” wink-wink) and all the times we danced to C’est La Vie at functions we were supposed to and at functions we were not supposed to!

Thank you for caring for Deon when Michael and I were not here and making him feel less alone in Cairo. Thank you for helping him when he was dean. And thank you for always asking about ‘our Michael’ and conversing with him and treating him as part of our community and giving him the experience of a lifetime! Thank you for every “How are you?” and every smile and every hug and every kiss and every “I will miss you” towards the end.

We will miss every one of you – those to whom we have already said goodbye to four, three and two years ago and last year and this year, and you who we leave behind now. Every one of you and your families had touched our hearts in one way or another. From now on when we hear English in a foreign accent it will be your voices and your accents we hear it and then we will miss you even more. We will miss your smiles. We will miss dancing with you. We will miss laughing will you. We will miss everything about you.

We wish that you and your families will be blessed in whatever you do wherever you go. Our family’s prayer for you comes from the Bible:

God bless you and guard you.

God make His face shine upon you and show favour to you.

God lift up His face upon you and give you peace.

 

We will always remember you, because between “Enchanté” and “Auf wiedersehen” we have made too many memories together to forget each other.

 

Until we meet again, our friends.

 

With love from Deon, Fielies & Michael De Kock

June 2018 – Cairo, Egypt

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Egyptian Street Cat Chronicles – The Finale

 

 

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As we are ready to leave Egypt after almost four and a half years, I knew I had to eventually write the conclusion to our cat chronicles. I put it off for quite a while, because like with all goodbyes, this too is a bit of a sad one – a-circle-of-life kind of finale.

Cat#1 and Cat#2, Camo’s latest (and last so far) black and ginger offspring are still doing well. It was touch and go for a while for Cat#2, the slightly weaker of the two. The little ginger became ill and stopped eating. He was so weak and unwell that we thought he was at his end. But, alas, we fed him (and prayed a little also) and after two weeks we knew that he would make it for now. In the meantime he grew strong and still lives in our garden with his brother. Their mother, Camo, mainly lives downstairs in the parking garage, with her favourite place to relax on our car! I find the dust paw prints on the bonnet quite cute. 🙂

We are leaving soon and we hope that the new tenants will also find it in their hearts to feed them when they are here. They are not dependant on our food for survival as they are fed by people upstairs, the policemen on duty outside the building and the bowabs (doormen). So, they are sorted. And privileged! But. We are going to miss them. These two last ones were cute ones, especially the little ginger. I will miss his little face and his chutzpah when he hammers his head against the glass door in the mornings to get my attention – or to go around the corner to the other window to stare us down when we’re sitting on the couch. And I will miss laughing at him when my husband scares him with our soft toy Ikea dog, Ike!

I wrote in my previous cat chronicles blog about ‘our’ beloved ginger building cat, GemmerGat who came back after an absence of nine months. We were very happy to have her back and quickly realised that she was tired and nearing her sell-by date. So, it came as no surprise when we noted one day that she had become quite weak. We fed her and chatted softly to her and told her to hang in there, but I think we knew that her time had come. So, three days after she became so weak, she wasn’t in our garden anymore. It was the beginning of a really hot period in the summer and we fathomed that she went downstairs to the parking garage to have her last lie down. Maybe she came home to find her rest. This time we are okay with it though. She came to greet and we’ve said our goodbyes.

And that, my friends, is the grand finale of our cat chronicles in Egypt. We will return home now and become dog people again. We can’t wait to have doggy companions again! It had been a long few years without pets. It had been only the second period in my life without pets and I missed having them around a lot. We hoped to see our beloved Maltese, Simmie, again when we went back, but he died on 6 December 2017.

So, this is it for our Egypt cat chronicles. Thank you, Egyptian building cats for entertaining us the way you did. And rest in peace, dear Gemmergat.

As if any of you cats were going to read my blog… 🙂

 

2018 ©  Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopefullest writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

 

Read my previous cat chronicles here:

Egyptian Street Cat Chronicles – Part 3 https://fieliesdekock.com/2018/03/25/egyptian-street-cat-chronicles-part-3/

Egyptian Street Cat Chronicles – Part 2 https://fieliesdekock.com/2017/04/30/egyptian-street-cat-chronicles-part-2/

Egyptian Street Cat Chronicles – Part 1 https://fieliesdekock.com/2017/04/30/egyptian-street-cat-chronicles-part-1/

 

Egyptian Street Cat Chronicles – Part 3

More Egypt Chronicles

GemmerGat

GemmerGat – Die kat kom weer!

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Cat#1 & Cat#2

And yet more cat stories.  Ja, wragtig!

So, I should probably give you an update on our cat family here in Cairo. The last time I wrote about them l was really sad about the ginger, Gemmergat, vanishing from our lives. Although we became used to him not being here, I kept wondering what had happened to him – especially after little Swartgat was hit by a car. Yep, we came back after travelling and was relieved and happy to see that the rest of the building fed the cats and that the cute little black cat survived. I was even starting to wonder what the procedure would be to take a cat back to South Africa. The very day after we arrived back, our son and I walked to the shops and was away for about an hour. When we came back, we saw the lifeless little body of ‘our’ black kitten lying in front of the church across the street from our home. He was hit by a car. So, that was the end of little SwartGat.

There was still no sign of ‘our’ ginger, so I was wondering if that was what had happened to GemmerGat too, but then I thought that Gemmergat was too smart a cat to be run over by a car. Did she die from injuries after a fight? Hm-hm, I thought, couldn’t be either, because although from the few fights l witnessed, I learned that that she didn’t like to fight, but she knew how to defend herself. So, I kept wondering.

In October or November last year, the serial mother of our neighbourhood, Camo, surprised us with yet another few bundles of joy. She always have three, it seems, but somehow only one or two make it upstairs to our garden. The other one stays downstairs in the underground parking garage or die or something. We still see one of her previous kittens – a beautiful light grey male – from time to time. He even visits our garden. This time the two kittens she brought upstairs for us to help feed, was a beautiful, strong black one – just like little SwartGat was – and another, much smaller ginger one. We didn’t even bothered with names anymore and they just became Cat#1 and Cat#2 .  We feed them and watch them grow and of course I take a lot of photos of them.

In December we went home to South Africa on holiday and when we came back, the most wonderful surprise awaited us, because in front of our door, as if she had never been away, GemmerGat was bathing in what Egypt has to offer as a winter sun! Never in my life would I had believed that I would be so ecstatic to see a stray cat!

Yep, it was just as in a well-known Afrikaans song’s words: Die kat kom weer (the Cat comes again)!

Read Part 4- The Finale

Read my previous cat chronicles here:

Egyptian Street Cat Chronicles – Part 2 https://fieliesdekock.com/2017/04/30/egyptian-street-cat-chronicles-part-2/

Egyptian Street Cat Chronicles – Part 1 https://fieliesdekock.com/2017/04/30/egyptian-street-cat-chronicles-part-1/

2018 ©  Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

 Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopefullest writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

What I’ve learned from my Own NaNoWriMo Alternative – NaFFWriMo

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Please NaNoWriMo, don’t sue me for the spin-off. It was just my way of not doing nothing writing wise for a month.

I have no time in November – not this past November or any other as in our yearly routine it might just be the busiest time. For that reason I don’t even think of signing up for NaNoWriMo yearly, because although I might write my daily dose of 1333 words on the first day an maybe the second and even a third, I know that I will be disappointed down the line, because it will end. But, I still wanted to dedicate at least a bit of time to regular writing during the month of November just to feel part of something bigger, so I decided on my own personal alternative – National Flash Fiction Writing Month or NaFFWriMo. I decided to write a short story every day of the month. I wasn’t a 100% successful, as the last few days I got busy and I stopped a few short. Nevertheless, I have 26 stories more than I had on 31 October, so I’m at least a bit satisfied by my effort.

The Rules of the Game

At first my thinking was to write 100-word stories, but the first one was shorter and I felt that if I forced it to be longer it would lose its effect, so although I managed a few precise 100-word stories after that, I decided earlier on that I was not going to put any restrictions on myself other than that all the stories would probably be under 500 words.

Statistics

  • I wrote 26 stories in 30 days. That makes my ‘pass rate’ 86,666%.
  • My longest story is 324 words long.
  • My shortest story is 6 words short.
  • I actually wrote two stories which was precisely 100 words before any editing, (which makes me wonder if you can train your brain to write an exact amount of words on a regular basis?).
  • 11 stories is/eventually will be 100-word stories after editing.
  • A whopping 73% (19/26) of the stories was inspired by everyday events – either something that happened around me or by news events or articles in the media.

A few things I’ve learned during my NaFFWriMo

  • It’s not that easy to come up with something new every day.
  • Lots of ideas for fiction comes from everyday life non-fiction, be it one’s own experiences or things happening in the news. So, we just have to be alert to find ideas. Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction and we don’t even need to wish for a muse or to dream up the ideas ourselves. We live in a crazy world full of people doing weird, crazy, wonderful and terrible things. Use it to create your own fiction.
  • Restrictions inhibit creativity. That’s not really an earthmoving or new fact, I know. 100 words can be too much. 100 words can also be too little. Writing a 6-word story is better than writing no story at all.
  • Sometime less is really more. I wrote one particular story which wasn’t bad in 276 words, but it also works extremely effectively as 100-word one. I will keep both for future use. Don’t just discard the longer or shorter versions of your stories.
  • I had to discipline myself to come up with something every day. It was a good feeling to produce on demand, although it wasn’t always easy.
  • One idea is sometimes – most of the times – followed by another. So, if I had decided not to write anything on some days, I would not only have missed out on one story, but on two!
  • Ideas don’t keep ‘working hours’. Some ideas came at night, just before I went to sleep, so I made myself a WhatsApp writing group with both my phone and tablet and typed out the story or at least the idea quickly to store and work on later.
  • I was a little bit disappointed that I didn’t write 30 flash fiction stories in 30 days (or even more, because it sounds so easy, doesn’t it?), but our current lifestyle is hectic and I was still satisfied that I managed to get 26 stories down. At least I didn’t do nothing. 3430 words for the month isn’t close to a 50 000-word novel, but it is still more than I would have written if I just decided to let the month pass without any goals.

PS: And just for the record – I know that NaNoWriMo is an American invention, but I think the name should change to IntNoWriMo to include the rest of us. Just sayin’. J

 

©  Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopefullest Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

The Lost Treasure of Storytelling

My Musings #13/2017

I am from the lucky generation who still grew up without a TV. Well almost. TV arrived in our town in South Africa in 1976, when I was in Grade 2. Or it might even had been a year earlier. I can’t remember. My dad didn’t buy one immediately, “because they didn’t show the rugby”. Actually that was his way of saying that he didn’t have the money to buy one. Not that I held it against him. We never had money, but we always had food, shelter and clothes. And love. We, television-less children in our street had to gather at a house that had a TV every Tuesday at six to watch Haas Das se Nuuskas and Heidi. I had to wait until my oupa sold his TV second-hand to my dad years later to have the pleasure of staying at home to watch it alone – which wasn’t as much fun as wandering down the street to Theunis’ house every Tuesday evening.

I only realised much later in life that not having a television set in the house was much more of a privilege than having one. We ate together at the kitchen table, where we talked about our days and then we listened to the aandgodsdiens (a Bible message) and the ten minute story over the radio. And then we washed the dishes and we all retreated to our rooms, where I would read Bible and a story book before falling asleep.

Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely love technology to a point where I have to admit today that I am addicted. I struggle with it and hope that when our living arrangements change in a year or so, that I will be able to be less dependent on social media and will thus use my phone in a more constructive and balanced way. But for now, I have to live with the addiction, because when you live abroad, that piece of electronics is your life-line to family and friends back home.

One thing that technology killed in our day, is the treasure of storytelling. It’s no shock anymore that when you go to restaurants, you find big or small groups of people sitting together, conversing inwardly via their phones with other people than the ones they are physically with. The same thing happens when children visit each other. They ‘play’ with each other through phones and gaming equipment. Parents prop iPads and tablets into two year olds’ hands to keep them busy, instead of teaching them to play and use their imagination. We had become a strange lot indeed.

When we grew up we still knew boredom. We had no entertainment to speak of at home and very little at school. If we wanted to be entertained, we had to do it ourselves. I arrived late in our family, so I didn’t really had siblings to play with. My dolls became my friends and all the trees in our garden had names. I could sit for hours in my tree and watch people in the neighbourhood go by – without them spotting me. I loved it. I even packed rations to spend whole afternoons in my tree. I also made a ‘saddle’ for my tree trunk ‘horse’, because otherwise my bum would go numb. And I always had a kettie (slingshot) with me, because the Sering tree (I don’t believe the word I found in English for this tree’s name is the correct one) provided me with round, hard, green seeds as ammo. (As the only girl living in the street I learned to be prepared at all times.)

In that tree I dreamed up stories by the hundreds. My mother was the busy sort, so I don’t remember her ever telling or reading me a story. But there was a lot of storytelling around me – not as much as I wanted it to be, but nevertheless. I went to my single oom Mieg’s farm on some Tuesday nights with my grandparents, where my grandfather, grandmother and uncle played cards. Nothing fancy – just boring Rummy. But they played while drinking very, very strong coffee, which ou Betta, his house keeper prepared before she left for the evening. I always drank with and was always sorry afterwards when my stomach cramped so much that my mother had to give me medicine and promised me that I will never go with Oupa and Ouma to oom Mieg’s again. Until the next time. But I loved it, because I loved sitting there, listening to the old people talking.

My brother, Willa, was the first one to read me stories. He read stories to me and he read from the Bible for me and he preached to me and my dolls after school in the sitting room. I loved listening to him and the stories he told me. I think I became a Believer because of him. He practiced so well on me, he became a pastor in real life.

My Grade One teacher, Juffrou Ieta (Mrs Boshoff), was another first of the great story tellers in my life. She had the most soothing voice and some out-of-this-world stories. She would let us lie down on the carpet in the classroom and tell us a story. And if some of us fell asleep, she let us. But I never fell asleep. Stories awed me too much to let my brain go to rest. Instead, it triggered my imagination and I would later play out the stories in my room or in the garden with my dolls or my trees and with the growing number of characters who eventually took permanent residence in my head.

In Standard 2 (Grade 4 nowadays), we had a teacher, Miss Paul, who told us a story once a week. We nagged the whole week long, but she never gave in. We had to wait for Fridays. Her stories sometimes scared us, but they were never dull.

Both one of my primary school teachers – who later became my sister-in-law, Hessie (De Clerq) Breytenbach, and my high school teacher, Attie Saunders, were good enough storytellers to get me interested in history and to this day I still love the subject and it had quite an impact in several of my life choices.

I started writing my own stories and in high school a few of my friends and I even had our own little ‘library box’ with self-written stories, which could be borrowed by others. I’m not verbally good at storytelling, so I am in awe by people who are natural oral storytellers. But they had become very few. And if they still exist, there is no real place for them to practice their art in everyday life anymore, because story time is now watching-TV time or binge-watching-series time or being-glued-to-our-phones time.

Today, we live in an instant world, where entertainment is literally at the tip of our fingers wherever and whenever we want it. We don’t have to go somewhere to a social gathering or wait until it is dark. We push a button wherever we are and literally have endless choices. We actually have so many choices, that we can’t always make up our minds – and not just about entertainment, but about other things in life too.

I’m not against this way of doing. I do it too and I enjoy it, but I think that we have lost something very important with the way we are entertained in our day. We don’t need our imagination so much anymore, because all the imagining is being done for us now. That book that we should have read and the world in it we should have imagined, is now a movie and we don’t have to go through the trouble of imagining characters and worlds, because someone else have decided for us what it looks like. We just have to sit back and watch without any effort on our behalf. And then forget it again. Because tomorrow we will have some more choices and we will be bombarded with some more special effects and we’re getting so overly stimulated, that our brains doesn’t have any time to enjoy and process and remember the last thing we’ve watched before watching the next.

Our friend, Abri, is a good storyteller. He can entertain one in such a way by telling you about something happening to him that it feels as if you have experienced it with him. He also tells his sons stories. One of the ‘series’ he tells them is about Buks, a farm dog. Buks is an awesome dog. He makes grand plans and fight scary lions and nothing ever gets the better of him. The stories are entertaining and get made up as Abri goes, which sometimes are very, very funny. When he goes away, he records a few stories, so that his sons can listen to them. They love it! And not only does it stimulate the boys’ imaginations, but it tightens the relationship between father and sons.

We still have a few storytellers around. They are mostly humorous and are limited to a few TV shows and yearly cultural festivals and people have to pay to hear them, but at least they still exist. Are there still people telling ghost stories for fun and for free around a camp fire like we did when we were children?

God is a great storyteller. He created billions of characters throughout history and has ‘scripted’ their stories for them. I wonder how many of us live out our stories as He has originally plotted it out, or how much we deviated from His script for our lives to instead live our own, ‘better’ versions through the choices we make? Or how much living we are missing out on because we spend our days on our phones. He also made sure that a lot of His stories got written down for us, so that we can learn from the lives of Adam and Enoch and Noah and Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Esther and ultimately, Jesus, and that we can have a ‘compass’ to navigate our own stories by. Luckily even those are electronically available today…

I sometimes ponder on how much we miss out on because of the entertainment we choose thanks to our technologically advancing lives. I wonder how many unsaid words there are between people because we choose to live virtually with our eyes glued to a little electronic screen in our hands, instead of looking around in awe at the world and playing out the ‘scripts’ we have with our loved ones.

Unless we switch off that little device every now and then, I guess we will probably never know.

©  Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopefullest Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.