I was walking at the edge of the water allowing the waves to lap at my feet. Every now and then a sense of mischievousness overtook me and I would run and kick at the wave as it came in to shore. The beach was quiet and deserted. I was a lonely figure letting the water play games with me. It wasn’t very safe in South Africa to be that alone but I didn’t feel any fear, any sense of doom. All I felt was peace and the words of a wise person vibrated in my mind: “If you think danger it will find you. If you think peace it will find you. You create your own destiny, your own surroundings, your own fears and jubilations.”
“Not very true,” I thought. “I certainly did not think this reality into being. Surely other people who have influence over you can influence your circumstance?”
I thought back to what had brought me to this point in my life. It was all to do with Robert. Robert was stronger than I was. Robert had a will of iron. When Robert wanted things to go a certain way they did and if any one stood in his way he ruthlessly walked all over them. He certainly created his own destiny. My destiny became wound up in his and only one of us could survive our destinies. I was the weaker one so I gave way. Whatever Robert said and dictated I meekly followed in his footsteps. Footprints – that beautiful religious piece - some of the ideas applied here. I walked behind him carefully placing my feet in the imprints made by him. Never wavering - too scared really to take my own initiative.
Robert said we were made for each other so that became fact. Robert said we would get married on September 13th in the afternoon so we did. Robert said our honeymoon would last just the weekend because he had important things to do and so it did.
And so the pattern for our entire life was set. Set in stone – Robert’s way.
He dictated that we would not have children although I had dreamt about having a family since I was a little girl. So we didn’t. My maternal instincts were channelled into my little charges. Oh I forgot to mention that he “allowed” me to keep my job as a pre-primary teacher as long as it did not impact on anything he wanted. I had to be home when he got home, I could not do any preparation for the next day. The meal had to be ready and I had to basically sit like a panting dog waiting for recognition from my master.
So why didn’t I leave? And then what? Where would I go? Both my parents were dead. I was an only child so I had no brothers or sisters. Robert had scared away all my friends so what could I do but slavishly wait on him when he wanted it and sit quietly sewing (yes he allowed that because that’s what women did).
I waited till he went to sleep and then I would work on things for the next day. I had to be careful though that I did not disturb him. I also had to make sure that I woke up before him. I had to be ready, showered, changed and breakfast on the table when he came down stairs.
Okay all this makes him sound as if he was a monster. He wasn’t really. He spoiled me rotten, buying me trinkets and flowers when the whim took him. He enjoyed golf and had taken me to the driving range and even paid for lessons from one of the professionals. When he felt I was ready to accompany him on the course, he bought me my own set of clubs. I did enjoy the golf games. It was exercise and out of doors. So once a week we got to do something we both loved.
I was happy in a way I suppose. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months and months into years. Little children occupied my days and gave me love and affection. I showered my love and affection on them but soon they moved out of my hands to have their places taken by a new bunch of kiddies. There was nothing permanent in my life.
When I reached my 50th birthday – a real milestone you may say - Robert forgot. When I reminded him he said he had more important things to occupy his mind. I think that was when I started to change. I started to realise that there had to be more to life. I was 50 dammit! If the bible was to be believed I only had 20 more years. What had I really achieved in this time? The rut I was in was so deep there was no climbing out of it. I no longer had job satisfaction. These beautiful children passed through my hands like water into a dam. If you threw a stone (me) into the dam the ripples would be intense and then would slowly dissipate until the water was smooth again. What impact did I really have in their lives? What impact did I really have in Robert's life? What impact did I really have in my own life? Would Robert even miss me if I left or died? I didn’t think so. It would be a minor ruffle on the smooth running of his life. The dissatisfaction grew and grew until it almost consumed me.
His lordship needed a break. His lordship made the reservation in a small villa on the coast because there was a well run golf course nearby. It was left to me to organise the food, the travel, and the clothes. It happened in the middle of a term but that had to be sorted by me. Fortunately the headmistress was understanding and saw that I really needed a bit of time off. As I packed my mind started playing silly tricks. What if I ran away and just left him? Where would I go? What adventures could I have before I was too old to have adventures? As the preparation for the trip grew intense so did my mind games. I smiled as I thought of the possibility of freedom and then I plunged back to earth to the monotonous everyday tasks and preparation.
We left on the Friday afternoon. Golf clubs were stashed on the back seat, I almost thought he would strap them into the seat belts. That’s how much he respected them. We would travel and arrive at the villa at about 10. The agent would meet us with the keys and we would stay there to relax (Robert) and recuperate (Robert) while I unpacked and prepared food etc. We would get in a golf game or two.
The villa was lovely. The bed looked inviting after an exhausting trip and preparation. But Robert insisted that I must sort out the kitchen and unpack the clothes while he enjoyed a whiskey and soda on the porch.
Saturday came and went. We had a game on the golf course. Robert won of course. Robert relaxed and enjoyed the meals I prepared. Sunday the same pattern and then today, Monday. Robert was relaxing on the porch with his pipe and a newspaper. I watched his back and saw the tension lifting out of his shoulders as he relaxed into the chair. Soon the newspaper dropped as did his pipe. It was now or never. I grabbed a driver from my golf bag. I crept up behind him with the driver in my hand (all those years practising on the driving range would help me now). I swung the driver back and took my stance and imagined his head sitting firmly on the tee. One thwack. The follow through was important One grunt from Robert and he slid off the chair to crash onto the floor near my feet. I bent over him and couldn’t see any life. I rushed to my handbag and got out my little mirror. Tentatively I knelt near him and held the mirror to his mouth/nose area. Nothing. Feeing braver I held his wrist and searched for a pulse – nothing. I sank back onto my knees. I was free. Free to enjoy my life. What did I want to do more than anything else at this moment? Why run into the waves and play with the water of course!