Shaving heads is a funny phenomenon inSouth Africa. In some areas the chaps do it to show they’re tough; part of gangs. In others they do it in support of a friend who has cancer. I am not very tough, but I do have two friends who are going through the hell of chemotherapy at the moment. I shaved my hair off this morning. It was very traumatic and – as it was too early to have a glass of wine for the shock – I bought myself a hat.
These hats are imported fromAustralia, have a 50% ultraviolet protection factor, are washable & crushable and are endorsed by the Cancer Association of South Africa.
Wearing my new hat, I meandered around in trendy Parkhurst and had a cup of Earl Grey tea and a scone before heading back home. As I turned into the main road from my parking bay, a middle-aged woman stepped in front of my car and shouted “Can you give me a lift?” Before I could close my dropped jaw, she was in the passenger seat. In this affluent suburb? A hitchhiker? A Jewish woman? I was shocked to being speechless, but she more than made up for this.
As we drove she launched into an account of her situation: her car had broken down and she couldn’t pay for the repair, she needed to get to the state hospital, her bank account was empty and she had no money to pay for public transport or buy airtime for her phone so that she could phone someone for a lift. She loves the ballet but can’t afford to go anymore; she was once a ballet teacher. Could I help her with a R200 loan, she’d find me when she managed to get money and pay me back.
When I stopped at the hospital, I checked my purse and had only R180 and small change and gave it to her; she hugged me and smiled. I saw that most of her teeth were rotten and some were missing.
What could have possibly happened between teaching ballet and this?
I came home and spent the rest of the morning experimenting with an unconstructed crab lasagna recipe and Sauvignon Blanc. But I just can’t get that woman off my mind. She said her name is Jankie, I wish I’d asked if she needed a lift home.