My grandfather cuts a perfectly ripe melon, an apple, a few bananas and a pear. With hands gnarled by old age and small-scale agriculture he places the dissected fruit in a bowl and sets it out on the table with three forks – one for him, one for my grandmother and one for me. Then he goes back to the kitchen with a determined gait, only superficially disguised by a pain-induced shuffle, and fills a smaller bowl with finely carved biltong and a crunchy mix of nuts. He brings two wine glasses – one for him and one for me – and pours us each a glass of the dry white he had carefully siphoned off from a 5 liter box into screw cap bottles earlier on. The reason is simple: easier to store in the fridge and much more handleable. The one we drink from is labelled “Sherry.”
Wortel, the large white cat with its orange tail saunters into the sitting room and greets us with an embarrassingly fine miaau for such an imposing feline.
My grandmother sits in her special chair, gives Wortel a quick pat then leans her head back against the soft cushion and closes her eyes. She’s tired after a busy day in the garden. While watering the flowers, ferns and creepers – leaning the long green hosepipe on her walking frame – she had called me to come and breathe in the sweet scent Jasmine gives off at that special Highveld hour when the heat of the day dissipates into a cool evening breeze. She told me how that intoxicating purple fragrance lasts into the midnightly hours, engulfs her and guides her through her dreams.
Now she opens her eyes and carefully lifts the glass of milk – the one my granddad had set before her when he had poured us our wine – with both her hands. I jokingly ask if the milk is hiding a tot of something stronger – whiskey perhaps – and she confirms, offering me a sip. I accept and find that it’s not half as bad as I expected.
My grandpa switches on the radio. We listen to the cheerful sounds of accordion, guitar and banjo – boeremusiek. I sip my uncharacteristic glass of dry white, settle into my little chair and feel like this is the exact place I am meant to be right now.