Ek Wil Huis Toe Gaan – An Ode to South Africa – With Translation

A Power of Prosperity moment.

A Kwa-Zulu Natal house martin, resting on a telephone wire at the Author’s home in Berwickshire, UK.

In my previous blogpost, I explained the writing of this poem, which seemed to write itself one chilly evening in Britain, during October 2013. I have now cobbled together a translation, which appears below the original, for those who do not speak Afrikaans nor know the South African lingo …

Ek Wil Huis Toe Gaan

Ek wil huis toe gaan …
Weg van hierdie koue plek;
Weg van hier, waar die mense kan nie lag nie;
Weg van die grys en die vreeslike ys,
Daar waar die hemel dikwels blou is;
Waar die mense lag en speel,
Waar die vriende warm is,
En die blommetjies baie is;
Waar die dikdikke dik,
En die blomme lekker ruik;
Waar die koppies loer my in,
En die pad lekker warm onder die fiets is;
Waar die biltong smaak,
En die boerewors kraak;
Waar die sonskyn soos parfum op my vel voel,
En die wind so lieflik oor die veldt grassies ‘skyn’ …
Ja, ek wil huis toe gaan.
Ek moet huis toe gaan.
Ek kan nie langer wag nie,
Ek moet huis toe gaan.
Die pyn is soms vreeslik koud.
Ek moet huis toe gaan,
Voor alles is vergeet en ek is baie oud.
Draai my huis toe nou,
Op die wind en die voel se rug,
Nou, asseblief, gee my ‘n bietjie verlig,
Ek wil huis toe gaan.

Asseblief. Net huis toe. Nou.

~ : ~

 

And in English, a rough translation …


I Want To Go
Home

I want to go home …
Away from this cold place;
Away from here, where the people cannot laugh;
Away from the grey and the terrible ice,
There where the sky is often blue;
Where the people laugh and play,
Where the friends are warm,
And the flowers are many;
Where the dik-dik call,
And the flowers smell divine;
Where the little hills entice me,
And the road is hot under the bicycle;
Where the “biltong” tastes delicious,
And the “boerewors” crackles;
Where the sunshine feels like perfume on my skin,
And the wind shines so beautifully over the “veld” grasses …
Yes, I want to go home.
I cannot wait any longer,
I must go home.
The pain is sometimes freezing cold.
I must go home,
Before everything is forgotten and I am very old.
Draw me homewards now,
On the wind and the back of the bird,
Now, please, give me a little relief,
I want to go home.

Please. Just home. Now.

~ : ~


Explanation of Words used

Boerewors :  a spicy South African sausage.
Biltong : a dried meat, often spiced with coriander seed.
Dik-dik : a very small type of antelope, named for the sound  that they make.
Veld or Veldt : the wide open spaces of natural African grasslands / meadows.
Verlig : literally translates as someone who holds progressive or enlightened views, in this poem used with liberty to describe a sense of relief, lightheartedness, or respite from continual care or burden.

Holly x

The original poem, written in Afrikaans on 26 October 2013.
Translation on12 August 2015.
~ by Holly Maxwell Boydell

An Ode to South Africa

Holly amongst plants enroute Cape Town perhaps - around 1973 - THTT signed

The Author amongst plants on a family journey between Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Cape, stopping somewhere en route, possibly Namaqualand … A child adoring the exquisite floral beauty, simply growing wild and free all around her. Circa 1973.


Written in moments, straight onto my Facebook page one homesick evening …
The ‘poem’ below wrote itself, it took no time at all to release … I walked up to my computer, sat down at the keyboard, and just let the words flow, as tears streamed from my eyes. I did not edit it, simply hit return and ‘published’, once the flow of words had ceased.

Strangely, there had been many years in between my leaving South Africa in December 1985 and sitting down to let this poem ‘escape’ on the evening of Saturday 26 October 2013. The strangest thing of all was that, for many years, I had completely forgotten every word of the second language of my country of birth, a language that was never ever used in my ‘very British’ home. Somewhere deep in my subconscious, however, the longing thrashed about and translated itself into the language of the land that I longed for.

At the time of writing, as now, I did not know whether the words made any grammatical sense whatsoever … yet somehow my teenage son, who speaks not a word of Afrikaans, picked up the emotion and the significance of this poem. I think the trauma of leaving, readjusting, and the difficulties encountered in a new country, not once but thrice since 1985, caused my subconscious to block much that I had taken for granted before. 

Is it a poem, I wonder? It certainly is a work that came from (or beyond) my deepest self, all of its own accord. Mine were merely the hands that typed it …

~ : ~


Ek Wil Huis Toe Gaan

Ek wil huis toe gaan …
Weg van hierdie koue plek;
Weg van hier, waar die mense kan nie lag nie;
Weg van die grys en die vreeslike ys,
Daar waar die hemel dikwels blou is;
Waar die mense lag en speel,
Waar die vriende warm is,
En die blommetjies baie is;
Waar die dikdikke dik,
En die blomme lekker ruik;
Waar die koppies loer my in,
En die pad lekker warm onder die fiets is;
Waar die biltong smaak,
En die boerewors kraak;
Waar die sonskyn soos parfum op my vel voel,
En die wind so lieflik oor die veldt grassies ‘skyn’ …
Ja, ek wil huis toe gaan.
Ek moet huis toe gaan.
Ek kan nie langer wag nie,
Ek moet huis toe gaan.
Die pyn is soms vreeslik koud.
Ek moet huis toe gaan,
Voor alles is vergeet en ek is baie oud.
Draai my huis toe nou,
Op die wind en die voel se rug,
Nou, asseblief, gee my ‘n bietjie verlig,
Ek wil huis toe gaan.

Asseblief. Net huis toe. Nou.

~ : ~


End note: Two years hence, I think I have remembered sufficient Afrikaans and South African ‘lingo’ in order to be able to vaguely translate this piece.

I have not travelled home to South Africa since 2007, and only twice briefly before that. This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of my leaving South Africa, very reluctantly, during incredibly unsettled times in that beautiful country, still struggling to find its peace.

Holly x

Ifafa Beach - rescanned - 1960s - THTT signed

Ifafa Beach, on the South coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal, during the 1960s. A place very dear to my heart, much-visited and very much loved as a young child. A place I long to visit, often.

 

A Letter To My Brother

Little Holly & baby Rhett - sent to me by Rhett - cropped - THTT cropped

 

To my darling brother,

Whom I have known for fifty years today,

A message that is on my heart to share with you,

On your special birthday far away …

 

I am not sure how to write this, nor how to best begin, and so am going to pretend that we are in the same part of the world and this is my speech for you, as if standing before you, amongst a crowd of well-wishers. I wonder how many know how lucky we are to have you with us still?

When I woke this morning, unusually early at 5.50am, I immediately knew that today was your birthday and the enormity of this realisation hit me like a boat paddle across the head. Thoughts flooded my mind, memories of our childhood – sweet, adventurous, challenging and complex all at once – and tears tumbled out as I recalled how we so nearly lost you. I cannot tell you how grateful I am that you did not die … and that you survived each additional time that you heroically diced with death …

The fact that you are here today is, to me, nothing short of a miracle. Does anyone else know this, I wonder?

It was such a long time ago, and yet even today I cannot bear the smell of chemotherapy. I recall as if it were moments ago, visiting you in your hospital ward, climbing up onto your bed, and you handing me your beloved ‘real rabbit skin’ koala bear … which I took back to my convent boarding school with me, stuck my head into every single night, and cried into as if my heart would break.

You had no hair, your leukaemia treatment had been fierce and your battle was being lost … only one in ten children were able to survive back then, if that, and you were fast fading away. The smell of chemotherapy was powerful in the hospital, and it followed me powerfully everywhere, captured in the fur of the little koala bear. My pain at our separation was unbearable; our broken family disintegrating before my eyes, and the thought of losing you too was inutterably painful. I could not understand what all the words meant which described your health challenge and treatments, nor why I had to lose you, but I knew that I would not be able to go on if you went away forever. With my fervent little girl prayers, I prayed my heart out to the God that I knew and trusted, and I begged him to let you live … I can’t remember what I offered in return, but I begged for my brother not to leave me.

I was in a convent for two years from the age of seven, separated from you from when you became ill aged five, and cannot remember how long the treatment went on for, but every day was like forever. I know that we were hardly ever able to see one another in that time, and much about each other’s life then has been lost to both of us, but I remember the relief when I heard that you would live. You were dying. The doctors had done all that they could to save you. It was just a matter of time … and then one night, bruised and completely spent, you suddenly (miraculously) turned the corner, and your body began to heal. To this day, I believe that God granted the miracle so fervently sought, and that you were supernaturally healed. You were not strong physically, although clearly your spirit was phenomenal, and we had to take the utmost care with you … by then your and my childhood rough ‘n tumbles together had completely ceased. Your body had to be protected, and we were taking no chances with it.

How you got from there, aged five, to where you are today with a beautiful family of your own, amazes me. I am in awe of what you have survived, thrived despite all challenges to do so, overcome and risen above. The thing that I find truly astounding is that, not only did you stare the demon in the face and overwhelm it, but you then went on to tease the darkness several more times, coming out on top each time. Do you remember how, not long after surviving cancer, you climbed up into and then tumbled out of a huge fig tree … hitting your head on the concrete ground below? How did you walk away from that? Fervent prayers again, I wonder?

Do you remember the time, in about 1973, when we went on an adventure to find out where a swarm of honeybees had built their nest? We climbed up a narrow metal rung ladder in the garage, up to an attic space above … I remember clearly telling you to walk along the rafters (how did I know that, aged ten?) … but you disobeyed, and promptly fell through the roof. Your arrival into the living room was so dramatic: not only had you blasted through the ceiling like a super hero, but your steering skills went slightly awry … you took the brass candlesticks with you, as you flew past the stone mantel piece, thrashing your skull before you crash-landed onto the stone-flagged floor below. Why did you do that, my brother? Why did you have to go and crack your head open yet again, and on the day that we were due to travel in a group to Ifafa Beach? Do you know that, while your body was being put back together in hospital, yet again, none of the adults would speak to me? Do you know that they all thought I must have been trying to extinguish you? If only they’d known. What a sad, lonely time that beach ‘holiday’ was … but, thank the Lord, once again you survived.

We had so many adventures … did so many things that most children would not dream possible … our escapades colourful and inventive. I remember watching you, a tiny boy aged ten, swimming across the Vaal River in flood, to collect a dassie or mongoose that had been offered to us, so that we had something to cook on our fire. Our little African friends thought you were Superman, I’m sure. How did you survive that, my brother? Where do you hide your cloak?

You were such a brilliant companion and you have been such a clown all our lives, that I would not trade you for all the world. The times when our joking banter would bemuse others, and your dry humour infuriate them, are so innumerable that I have lost count of all the jests. Perhaps if people had known about your ability to overcome beasts and dragons, as I did, they would have shown you more compassion, as well as much-deserved respect? You certainly have mine.

As I think back over just those few incidents in the fifty years that I have known you, my brother, I see how much I have been blessed to be a part of your life. I have known for a long time that you stand head and shoulders above the crowd. What I did not anticipate, aged fourteen and you aged twelve, was how quickly you’d fall head-over-heels in love with all the Bob Marley music I played. Having rocked to the Reggae beat consistently for several years, disinterested in any other beat whatsoever, you finally gave in and increased your music collection, and yet to this day you remain an avid, loyal and dedicated fan. Rastaman vibration, yeah.

Happy Birthday, my brother. You are a truly bright, shining star and you have been my one rock, one constant, for a full half a century, through treacherous seas, through thick and thin. Here’s to the next half, and may you continue to be blessed.

Congratulations on reaching this fabulous milestone …
No … more than that … THANK YOU.
I do not know what I would have done had you left me behind.

With love, positive beats and admiration,

Your sister always,

Holly x

 

 

Holly & Rhett - matching outfits - enlarged - THTT signed

 

 

 

PS.

Holly & Rhett - Arundel Road (enlarged) - THTT signed

 

Trepidatious Booksteps

DSC08074 - A Shropshire Lad - rose open in kitchen today - 30.6.2015 - THTT signed


*****

When you have a huge story inside of you, waiting for its natural time to be carefully birthed, and then discover in a moment that part of your story has been written about and published by someone else …

I am feeling rather peculiar today, and am not at all sure how to process news of a just-released book.

Within me, known only to a very few, is a story that lasts over more than half a century and which few, if written down in full, would quite be able to believe. Perhaps that is one reason why it has not yet come fully into the light, but also I know that before it could be birthed, the story had to become one that was possible for me to fully face. I have stared a lot of frightening things fully in the face and have demonstrated extraordinary courage that not even I knew I had within me, over many, many years … but I have also been broken and have fallen down, unable to get myself back up again, and have had to start to find my way from scatch, time after time. I know what it means to completely snap, for the load to become too great to bear, and for endurance, adaptability, fluidity, fluency and strength to become instead utter exhaustion and sheer despair.

I believe that anything is possible, and I believe I have seen miracles take place, but I also know that there is such a word as “can’t” and that it is possible to push a human being too far. I have had the rug pulled out from underneath me from a very early age, and this pattern continued throughout my childhood, into adulthood, marriage … I know it full well. I know what it feels like to have one’s spirit completely broken by the mindless attitudes of others, and then to be expected to perform regardless. I came up with the phrase a while ago “You cannot break a person’s knees, and then expect them to dance!” Those words came from deep within, from a place inside me that knew the full truth of their meaning.

I have a story to tell. It is a big story. My story is too fantastical for words. I hesitate to share much of my story, for fear of hurting others in the revelation of the parts that they have played. There is another side too, and that is that the story hurts me. It hurts me when I remember certain parts of it, it makes my voice and body tremble when I speak of some of it, and the lion-hearted courage with which I do indeed speak out about certain things, comes from a place within me that is sometimes hanging on for dear life, clinging at many times to a “heavenly father”, God. I could not have walked this path had God not come into my life as a young child, nor survived it, to still be here today. The effort it has taken to keep upright has been immense, and I use no crutch. No drugs, no alcohol, no cigarettes, no harmful addictions … all dealt with and despatched a long time ago. Instead, sheer and utter determination to live in the light, for the light, guided by the light, is what has brought me through some bizarre and outrageous circumstances, throughout much of my life.

I have learnt to laugh and joke about all sorts of things … do you know that many clowns cry behind the stage curtain? I have developed the strength to speak out plainly and clearly, simply and authentically, about what really matters – to my own eyes … and yet, I did not expect to feature in someone else’s story, on someone else’s difficult journey, in someone else’s newly published book. It has come as a shock, although not completely unexpected, as I have known for some time that the process was happening.

So, today, with all sorts of plans for this week that I can now see I shall not be adhering to, I am trying to process the little knowledge I have about this new book, before even considering ordering or reading a copy. My friend who wrote the book I refer to, was an adult when she met me during my early teens, and came into our lives at a key time for my immediate family in the 1970s. Yesterday I learnt that her book was being launched, had been published, is available to buy … and then received a private note to let me know that I am one of the (renamed) characters in it. The book is a memoir, one that needed to be voiced, and I am aware that it carries a lot of pain in its own story for the author who wrote it … but, I am not sure that I am ready to read what someone else has written about a painful and confusing time in my and my family’s life, a time that completely and utterly shook my world. As a result of massive tragedy and trauma, I was thrown into a challenging situation that no child should have to witness, nor ought to have to explain, nor be forced to have to rise above. As children, barely in our teens, we suffered enormous grief and loss (not for the first time, by any means), while all the reeling adults around us considered my brother and myself too young to be aware of what was going on.

I know that the friend who has written this book needed to do so, and I am  proud of her for having achieved it. In her note, my friend told me that she holds me in “high regard” and yet, whilst grateful for this, I do not know how I will feel nor receive that head knowledge when I read the words that describe her experience of our shared story, at some later time.

Over the past few years, I have had a lot of reconnecting with people who have been out of my life, some for decades, due mainly to my various and huge life changes along the way. Every special reconnection (as most of them are) has brought with it big emotion, memories, renewal of some loyal bonds, and also a sadness that we were unable to maintain contact in the intervening years, which would have helped much along the way. At the same time, each reconnection has brought immense gratitude that we are now in touch, can easily find and communicate with one another again, and this has meant that pieces of my life’s broken jigsaw slowly, and sometimes speedily, gets put back into place. There is still a very long way to go, and a lot of healing to happen yet … and I am thoroughly exhausted by it all … but I know that the journey is far from over and I have to keep going on. Perhaps my friend’s book will act as validation, and maybe even a step towards revealing some of the most bizarre parts of what might one day come to light in my own story – who knows?

In the meantime, I sit here tinkling at my computer’s keys and wondering whether I ought to mention the name of the book … and wonder, too, today whether it is in fact time to fully reveal my own name, not leave it to the internet and chance discovery by online detection, to provide my full identity and authorship in several places.

Coming right into the present moment, I notice too that the sun has reappeared from behind the clouds, so I shall go out and sit with a lunch of salad, on a bench in my organic garden, and see what inspiration follows …

I have reached a stage where I honestly do not know how to proceed, nor how to think about anything any more. I am going to go quietly within and see what God shows me to do next.

With faith, hope, and no small amount of trepidation on a journey that, at times, feels as though it has only just begun.

Holly x

Weedy Heights

I started my life in Africa living in a little house, on a hill, called “Weedy Heights”. I have recently learnt the address of this home that I once knew, felt safe in and loved, but have not seen it since I was three years old. I have no idea whether it kept that name, but to be honest, I doubt it.

There have been times over the past five years or so, when I have referred to the home where we currently live in Britain as “Weedy Heights”. It too sits on a hill, has a sense of rootedness and history … and has many “weeds” (aka herbs and flowers in the ‘wrong’ place), which I allow to grow for the sake of the suffering wildlife and to bring natural balance into the barren environment here. The obvious difference between this “Weedy Heights” and the original one, is that the original was in the Southern Hemisphere and currently I am in the North.

Another key difference is that the fauna and flora are completely different, although there are isolated elements (like inherited floribunda roses) that are the same. And there is a severe lack of vegetation in the area where I currently live – much to my dismay. Our garden has sufficient self-sown trees in it to start a sapling business … if only I could lay claim to the barren hill behind us and plant them all there!

Another clear and often painful difference, is that I have no photographs whatsoever of my life at my beloved first “Weedy Heights”, but have thousands collected and moments recorded over the short time at our current home. My happy early childhood exists only as a few bell-clear moments in my memory, the rest relegated to rare and awkward recollection by my estranged parents, who divorced soon after we moved from the area, while I was knee high to a butterfly … and my whole world completely collapsed, then changed.

Perhaps one of the reasons that I responded so immediately to our current home when I first saw it, was that I recognised a sense of security in the presence of mature shrubs and towering trees within the property on our arrival – a greenness and a solidity that was all around my first “Weedy Heights”, its borrowed landscape lush, alive with flora and fauna, and deeply, magically abundant. I had a sense, when I first came to view this current home, that this was a garden one might play in. Something deep down inside me saw glimpses of prettiness lurking in the overgrowth, and I longed to explore.

When I was a tiny child, it did not matter that our garden was small (at least, I assume it was), because to me the whole environment around our home was a magical, green oasis of all that made the world right and good. On days like today, when the farmers in Britain are out spraying toxins across their vast acres with a tyrant’s vengeance, I want to pack up my treasures and just go home … back to Africa … even as far back as my darling “Weedy Heights” there … and start the whole journey all over again.

It breaks my heart to see what the landowners are doing to the soil, the Earth, the whole once-biodiverse environment and I know that I will not last long here if I do not see positive change. Where to go from here? My own country was in collapse, or I would never have left there in the mid 1980s. I long to return now, yet cannot – at least not while the political instability and soaring crime rates continue to escalate  – but I go to bed at night wishing that at least one of my dreams could come true: A return home to where my heart truly is, or to see and feel the heart return to where we live now.

Some days the ache just will not go away.

Holly x

On Teaching Our Children

It is all very well teaching children Academic subjects, Sex Education and how to pass Examination with perfect results …
But how about teaching them how to THRIVE in the big wide world?
How about teaching them to LOVE… themselves and others?
How about teaching them how to SAFELY and sustainably GROW food and trees and flowers, so that they can have a beautiful world – and even perhaps be free of dependence on big, greedy, soulless corporations?
How about teaching them how to create wealth in ways that are POSITIVE?
How about teaching them about MONEY, and how to MANAGE their finances?
After all, they’ll shrivel up and suffer in innumerable ways, or do untold harm to others, without these fundamental basics!
So, how about it?
How about TEACHING THEM WELL?

~ Holly

[Thoughts hastily, but pensively, penned on 18 April 2013.]

Children Learn what they Live

IMG_0004 - copy - CHILDREN LEARN WHAT THEY LIVE  - by Dorothy Law Nolte

 

 

 

 

Words by Dorothy Law Nolte PhD.
Image and layout by Holly Maxwell Boydell.
Prepared and posted onto The White Space’s page in January 2015 at http://www.facebook.com/thewhitespace.

 

~ : ~

 

 


 

 

 

Added note:

 

The adults running the world right now, are the children of yesterday.
The children of today are the adults of tomorrow.
They will run our world – the way we taught them.
What we learnt and absorbed as children, is being played out in our lives right now.
It behoves us all to learn to see the world as children, relearn the lessons, and think before we act. In business, in all professions, in parenting, in all spheres of life.
We live what we learnt. We can change.

 

~ Holly Maxwell Boydell

 

 

 

 

 

[Additional words and Tag added Wednesday 17 February 2016]

 

When We Look Into The Eyes Of Children

Holly & Rhett - Arundel Road (enlarged) - THTT signed

I wonder what you see when you look at this photograph of two children? We all see things according to our own lives and experiences, but sometimes the messages are universal.

I know what I see and I know what I feel, when I look at this photograph. I know one of these children very well and their combined story is a powerfully moving one, when looking from the outside in, or the inside out. Each of these two children went on to create lives and families of their own, succeeding in various ways despite great hurdles, many obstacles to their security, their sense of self, and a lack of consistent parental direction while they were being raised.

When I stand back and view this photograph, as an Observer, I see two vulnerable beings, trusting the world to offer fun and everything else that they need, supporting each other, believing in the positive nature of Life. Each of these children, indeed every child, was and is worthy of love and care, nurturing and wellbeing. I know that these two children’s experience was not always so, and I know the depths to which each of them had to dig within themselves, in order to survive and to go on to do well.

As I look at this picture, I recall a few words I wrote recently, elsewhere in my blog, where I asked:

“What do you think children would say, if we asked them what sort of world (Earth) they would like to inherit? Remember, ours is borrowed from them.” *

I find myself asking this question again.

We hold their world in trust, until children can take up the mantle themselves, and as we do so we carry the full responsibility, for the sake of all the children of the world. This responsibility is something I care about and feel very deeply.

I wonder whether, when you look at this photograph of two trusting, outwardly optimistic, vulnerable beings, you see and feel any of this too?

In trust and love,

Holly x

 

* Quote from blog post: “Mid Winter Brightness” – 6 February 2015
at https://thehollytreetales.wordpress.com/2015/02/06/mid-winter-brightness

Children playing

As I waved goodbye to one of my children, who was setting off back down South yesterday, watching her disappear down the country road, I turned back to close our gate slowly and stopped to take in this sign pinned onto our property …

“Children playing. Keep gate closed.”

It spoke volumes to me.

How soon they are grown.
How sad that a gate must contain them.
How important that we all remember to continue to play.
How wonderful to give a child freedom to develop an imagination.
How vital the imagination becomes when they have flown.
How incredible that nowadays most will not see the countryside as it once was.
How much play has shaped the lives of those who feel the real need to care.
And I thought so much more.

The words, the moment, the whole picture …
I felt it all deep in my soul.

Holly x

Children playing. Keep gate closed.

Children playing. Keep gate closed.