Observing father’s day

It’s winter, but the air in the car is sultry and warm as a summer afternoon, so I roll down the window to let the breeze in. It chills my hands curled around the steering wheel and whips my hair across¬†my face, driving it into my mouth in strands, which snag on my teeth and the corners of my lips. The small dog in my lap is shedding fine hair, which floats around the car in swirling upcurrents of air, sliding into my nose and tickling the edges of my nostrils. He flips his head up to look at me and his breath washes over my face, invoking a momentary gag-reflex in the back of my throat. You’d swear he lives a wild life, dining on swamp creatures and cached dead things in holes, buried and forgotten until the smell reminds him they are there.

I swear. Loudly. And push him away. I reach past him and turn up the radio. Classic FM waltzes Beethoven concertos through the sunlit air. The cigarette between my fingers is sending tendrils of smoke into the atmosphere and I bring it to my lips, inhaling the minty freshness which belies the taste of nicotine and sending it soaring out again into the whistling wind. The dog sneezes. Serves him right. But I soothe his ears as I drive, my right hand balancing the wheel with the three fingers not occupied with gripping the cigarette. I lean back in my seat, allowing the back support to cushion me in padding, the headrest wobbling behind me.

The air blowing through my window smells of petrol fumes and veld fire. Both of these mean death to small things and I wonder if the small dog would prefer his carrion roasted.

The sun glares white on my windshield and I flip the visor down, shielding my eyes from the brightest light. To either side of me are multi-coloured apartment complexes: beige,white, eggshell, ivory, grey, dove, peach, tan, sand. I wonder how the people can stand to live in such a riot of colour.

Even the trees are grey, this time of year. A few dusty leaves cling to skeletal branches and as I drive, they drift across my path and get caught in my windscreen wipers.

The leaf leaves a line across the windshield when I try to flick it off with the wiper. It’s a yellow-green smear. Perhaps there was a caterpillar caught in there.

Winter driving is death to small things.

The other cars on the road fly past me too fast to catch the expressions on the pink-blurred faces of their operators. It’s Sunday, so I imagine most of them are on their way to lunch with their families, freshly pressed from prayers, the scent of roast beef and potatoes already playing tunes on their tastebuds.

I’m going to see my grandfather. We’ll eat sandwiches and drink juice and he’ll talk about that time he met the prime minister of England. These are the things that stick with him, these days. That, and all the Very Important PR work he did for the mines.

I wish he’d tell stories about us, rather.

The old man’s got swag

Youthful pearsuits

So we celebrated youth day in South Africa on Thursday. It’s the 40th anniversary of the Soweto uprising which happened in 1976, when a large group of students were gunned down for marching against the use of Afrikaans as the main language of instruction in South African schools, as well as the policy of Bantu education. It’s an ugly history, but today the day is used to celebrate all things great about the young future leaders and innovators of South Africa and the world. I decided to use it to remind myself of the youthful talent I had which has been swept away in the hamster wheel which is adulthood, and attempted to draw a portrait of my girlfriend, having not picked up a pencil in 19 years. Needless to say, there was much scrumpling of paper and gnashing of teeth, and not a huge amount of success. So I decided to draw a pear instead, reminding myself that it may be a good idea to climb a boulder before I tackle the mountain. I think it worked. I think it’s fairly convincing. Maybe tomorrow I’ll attempt a mug.