Home: Die Werkstatt Südafrikablog: Kom die Kaap na!


Scene at Jo'Burg airport

Wide almond eyes overflow with tears, a mouth parts in a silent scream, pearl white very even teeth reflect the neon lights, the face distorted so that at first you cannt decide whether from laughter or pain. An Indian teenage girl, excessively pretty, model-figure, grey high heel boots, holds a delicate hand over her mouth and gazes unbelievingly from father to mother.

The middle-aged woman - once she must have been so beautiful - clutches desperately at her husband, the face dark, unbelieving. The wife buries her head in her hands. His face is a hard, set mask. The temples stone grey, the deepset eyes do not blink. He pats the mother one or two times, then reaches out for his daughter over the small table with the assorted rolls and tea pots. She shies away in disgust, hugs her arms to her chest, looks for comfort from anwhere or anyone in the busy airport cafe. Briefly our gazes meet, but her eyes see nothing, hold nothing, she rests her head briefly against a marble pillar and seems about to faint. There is no sound from this group, even though I am sitting less than five meters away. The steady drone of boarding calls and security announcements and squeaking trolleys blocks it all.

A bizarre scene from an over-acted, over-burdened silent movie. An everyday scene, really, made unreal just by the public display. Did the husband plan his revelation for this occasion so he would have a plane to catch and could smoothly fly away from the wreckage?

A waitress brings my breakfast, yoghurt, fruit, muesli and coffee. The silent wailing, the suffering, the hard staring, it just goes on in that other world across the aisle, there is no relief, no turning point. Finally, the man gets up, there is a final embrace, now the daughter doesn't want to let go. The man disentangels himself and pushes his trolley (three suitcases) to the boarding gate.

I pour sugar in my coffee and take a sip. It's very hot and much too sweet.

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