Tom’s headmaster committed suicide. At the school. He was found by a caretaker. It has rattled my two profoundly.
Aitch had befriended Eugene when his wife was also suffering from cancer, and then more so when she died, about two years before Aitch died. They were in a home bible study class with the Methodist dominee Ian Howarth.
Tom & Jess both asked me “What would happen if you died, Dad?” and Jess asked me “Dad, would you ever commit suicide?”
I have told them how much I love them and all about what I have arranged for the house and live-in care and so on, and also re-assured them no way I would do myself in. We had some good chats.
What a bliksem. Eugene was a more mature man than many of the teachers at Tom’s school, and a steadying hand. I fear Tom will catch more flak at school for a while.
While we’re packing for a camping trip to Mkhuze the vervet monkeys sneak into the kitchen and grab the fresh peanuts. The peanuts grown by Thulisiwe just north of Jozini on the Makathini Flats, which she then roasts over an open fire and salts herself. Tobias brings us some whenever he goes home.
Tom spots them on the roof, spilling the nuts as they chomp them, the spilt ones rolling down the tiles into the gutter. Hey! he shouts and remonstrates and fulminates! Tom and the monkeys, not a good relationship despite all my lectures (because of?).
After a while I tell him Relax m’boy, its OK for the monkeys to have the nuts. We left them in the open, their job is to glean and gather, so that’s that.
But he doesn’t like it, and he doesn’t like them. I think its because he’s a bit scared of them, so I ask him:
TomTom, how big do you think the monkeys are, fella? How much do they weigh?
About 90kg, he guesses. Guess again. First, how much do you weigh?
45kg And the monkeys?
Dusted off the bikes and threw them on the back of the bakkie and headed off to Albert Falls Dam for our first mountain bike ride in years. Picked up a friend for Tom and a friend for Jess. Two more bikes.
Got there too late for the official start, so no hurry. Took the bikes to be pumped up (about six flat tyres out of ten) and brakes fixed. Off we went on a 10km ride through the nature reserve.
What a bunch of wimps. There was so much whining it sounded like King Shaka airport.
A small herd of bewilderbeasts and zebra thundered past us, spooked by the other riders in the actual race. Also saw nyala, impala and oribi.
Then we saw fresh rhino dung and the panic set in. “What if they charge us, Dad?” Relax! Just pedal on! And hush. Enjoy the day, I say. “We wanna go home”, they say. Eventually they go on strike and say “No further!”, folding their arms.
So I head off into the distance and they’re forced to follow, muttering something about cruelty.