/ 6 January 2012

An idyll coloured by reality

I can’t think of a more grounding way to start a new year than being reminded gently that the fate of a bubble is to expire, caused either by natural elements or even by a deliberate intrusion that brings about an unexpected end to the floating fantasy, an awful occurrence that simply forces the bubble to burst and descend to the underworld.

I was on holiday with six of my friends, tucked away in a holiday house in Stanford Village, a beautiful little town 90 minutes from Cape Town. I did not really see the “magnificence” of the town, as people who had been there described it, but I felt a sense of peace and delight. I did not feel a need to search for any other satisfaction than to be freed from my computer and cellphone and to be surrounded by good, witty and kind people.

We were drinking good wine, eating slow food and puffing away the hours, which merged into one another slowly and without ­direction.

Then on the third day we discovered we had been burgled. Three cameras and two wallets were taken silently while we slept.

The police we reported the case to suggested that the culprits were probably from the township concealed behind the bougainvillea bushes at the end of the street. We hadn’t notice it while we marvelled at the brightness and beauty of the flowers.

My initial feeling after this discovery was fear of the unseen eyes that had been watching us and our possessions. I thought I was on a vacation from those eyes that follow me on the streets of Johannesburg. Fortunately, I was surrounded by sensible folk who were not capsized by the shock of our invasion. We simply filled our glasses and invented humorous explanations of how the petty thieves must have entered. I felt a sense of calm and accepted that this had happened. Perhaps it is because I am privileged and can replace the objects.

We certainly don’t deserve our items being stolen but I reasoned out the incident in this way: in South Africa this is the price we have to pay for having them when, in close proximity, there exists a group of people (whose demographic is not difficult to guess) who have less and need more, for whatever reason.

This is not a novel discovery. I am not the first person to approach a crime against me in this manner. But I am left wondering whether the acceptance of the way things are, this righteous-victim mentality, is a progressive stance. Or is it the lull of defeat, a surrender to something that one should have known was a possibility given the lack of change within the borders of our lives?

The day after the memory of the night before had vanished as we imbibed litres of bubbly and spewed memorable conversation and laughter. I did notice one thing though — the swimming pool was starting to change from the bright sparkling blue we found it to a “lived-in” tinge of green.