house of happy

Life adventures in prose and verse. Explorations of places, people and words. Stories and fun.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Aberdonian Lost at Sea

Alastair has a story about, you know, the Titanic, how when it sank a newspaper in Aberdeen ran the headline: 'ABERDONIAN LOST AT SEA'.

I had a South African friend, Ingrid, we were room mates at university. She was blond and cheery and taught me Afrikaans rhymes. Studies stressed Ingrid: she would rummage in the cupboards and eat my biscuits. Then she always knocked on my door to confess. We'd throw our coats on and run to Tesco's for more biscuits, lettuce, a red wine named 'Fitou'. We left the books open on our beds and spent the night chatting in the kitchen.

Ingrid went to London that spring, to vote for a man called Mandela. She came back blushing, chirping, fairly bursting with joy. We had a party on 27 April, election day, Ingrid and I and a bunch of people who had never heard the names Nelson, Madiba, Mandela, but nevertheless enjoyed a good Fitou. Ingrid was happy and proud and even as she stirred the stir fry she did it with a new dignity, forehead lifted high in the steam. I was 24 and cynical and asked 'why all the fuss'. 'Because', she said 'it's a BEGINNING.' She tried to make it much more than a word. She crammed it full of promise and possibility, her gaze was heavy with future (and Fitou) but never again, never before, as torrentially blue.

She didn't have a lot of future left, my lovely Inky. She died on 27 April 1997 and I never found out how, or where, or why.

 It would have been her birthday today, 15 December, and I wonder what face she'll make, how blue her eyes, when she sees her man Mandela walk in on her party in the sky.

P.S. 15th of December births? I know more. Burials too, three priests singing in a Romanian church. Their voices blend and flow like a warm river and my heart is a stone, midstream... Another story. Enough for now to say, I muse all day about the Aberdonians I lost in that sea.


At 15 December 2013 at 17:51 , Blogger Unknown said...

This is such a beautiful piece!


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