My assignment for http://www.allaboutwriting.com involved using different points of view. Sounds easy? Not as easy as I thought. But I certainly learnt a lot. Two people experiencing something do not have exactly the same experience. They really don’t! ” Put yourself in her shoes” is not just something your mum used to say. It’s the only way to get the whole picture…
“Would you like a cookie?”
Tannie Elize held out the round tin, packed with freshly baked chocolate chip biscuits. As she bit into hers, Katie knew that she’d want another one. She sipped her tea in between and shifted the horrible picture of Kosie slitting the lamb’s throat with his pen knife, into the background. Tannie Elize was going to make a lamb roast for Sunday lunch. Katie knew that she was not going to have any of that lamb. She wasn’t too sure how that would pan out though. Tannie Elize was pretty scary. She’d heard Kosie getting a “pak slae” and there was no way she wanted that to happen to her! She bit all along the sides of the biscuit. It lasted longer that way.
Katie nodded. She eyed the biscuit tin hopefully. Tannie Elize snapped the big lid onto it and swept it away into the farm pantry. She wiped the wooden table and everyone started shifting their chairs back. That was it then. Katie thought about asking for another biscuit… but no. She couldn’t do that. She thought of Mum’s house. If she were there now, she’d just saunter into the kitchen and take one! She could take whatever she felt like at home. A huge fruit bowl was always filled to the brim with fresh, ripe fruit, begging to be eaten. She didn’t need to ask. Everyone else was taking a walk now. Tannie Elize was already outside, feeding the chickens. Perhaps if she tiptoed into the pantry quietly and gently opened the tin…
Her hand was about to scoop up the fattest one, when Tannie Elize’s voice cut through her.
“En wat maak jy?”
Katie passed her the tin as an apology.
“You could have just asked me.”
Why didn’t the floor just open up?
Tannie Elize stood her ground and Katie slunk past her into the garden. No “pak slae” could have made her feel worse than she did. Now her aunt would never like her. She’d done the unforgivable.
And there was still Sunday lunch to get through tomorrow. Her heart sank and she wished the time away. She’d give anything to be back home with mum now. The aftertaste of the farm biscuit choked her as she bit back tears.
Elize glared at the little English girl, as she slunk past her. She shook her head impatiently.
“Dis Lynne’s se skuld. There’s no discipline in that house, man.”
She considered just giving the child another cookie and then thought better of it. Katie needed to learn a lesson. There were rules, mos. It was irresponsible not to teach children good behaviour. That child needed a gooie pak slae. But she wasn’t her mother. It wasn’t up to her to teach her. She glowered at the girl, who was now sitting sulking on the grass. Her children must try sulking. Just once!
And she had had to insist on being called Tannie. Here this little madam had called her Elize!
Can you believe it? Who did she think she was?
“Nie in my huis nie. Nee!”
Nice. Brought back a vivid memory of once visiting Tant Lettie and Oom Gawie on their farm in Nambia. There was also a slaughtered lamb, which the ‘boys’ strung up, upside down, in the back yard in the sparse shade of a thorn tree. Where it dripped blood from its neck all day. Lunch the following day was fatty lamb stew, and I could not swallow a morsel.