Monthly Archives: June 2022

Strong Together

Written by Ada Den Hollander

(I entered the short story below for the short story summer competition of the Dutch Newspaper NRC. There were a few rules. The story shouldn’t contain more than 600 words; you get bonus points by using the words’ gravel’, ‘steam’ and ‘umami’*. They are, of course, included in my story. Furthermore, the word corona isn’t allowed, the setting is a summer day and it must be a gripping story).

Even before Sarah can get up from her sunbed to put her slipper back on her foot, which had fallen off, she sees the almost black eyes of her lover Jeroen above her head. In his hand, teasingly and with puckered lips, he holds up her elegant slipper as if to say that he will only slide it on her foot for a kiss.

“You’re so beautiful and delicious,” he mutters, leaning forward and kissing her full on the mouth.

“Such a sweetheart,” she thinks. Her thoughts go back to her ex.

Jeroen walks back to his lounger and stares happily at the pool’s clear blue water. “Not too bad to spend a summer day this way,” he thinks, closing his eyes.

“What a huge difference between the two men,” muses Sarah.

Johan, her ex, a control freak with wandering hands and Jeroen full of attention, a sharp mind, a true IT man, and a good cook. In the beginning it had seemed like a dream relationship with Johan, a fashion photographer and her, a successful model. Soon, however, he regularly became highly violent with her. The final straw was when Johan had beaten her so severely in the front yard that she had not been able to stand up. And then suddenly Jeroen had appeared on the garden path. Without giving it another thought, he had lifted her up and carried her into the house. They had started talking, dating, had sex often and satisfactorily and decided to live together in Sarah’s spacious villa within three months. A cohabitation contract stipulating that the surviving partner would inherit everything sealed their happiness.

She had never heard from Johan again.

A sneeze puts an end to Sarah’s musing and while she grabs a tissue she says to Jeroen:

“I feel a cold coming up.” He rubs his eyes.

“That’s typical Jeroen,” Sarah thinks.

“Maybe you should steam?” he says.

‘Always a helpful suggestion and there for you, I am so lucky’.

‘I’ll put the kettle on and while you’re steaming, I’ll go shopping for a seafood dish. I will make sure that you can clearly taste umami because you love that so much. While talking, Jeroen has gone to the kitchen, and a little later Sarah hears him calling that Madam can take a seat.

Sarah gets up from her lounger, walks to the kitchen and sits down at the kitchen table, where Jeroen has laid out everything. A container with boiling water, from which the menthol vapour hits her. Next to it lies a towel which she puts over her head. She bends her head over the steam and closes her eyes. The sound of Jeroen’s footsteps crunching on the gravel path slowly fades away. What Sarah doesn’t hear is that those same footsteps turn around. At the kitchen door, Jeroen hesitates; then he quickly walks over to Sarah and pushes her head into the container with the scalding water. Her scream is muffled.

Jeroen leaves the kitchen, hurries to his car and drives to the Japanese convenience store. When he gets home he finds Sarah unconscious on the floor. He calls the emergency number. The paramedics find a distraught man next to the victim who keeps shouting that he does not understand how this could have happened.

A few days later -Sarah has passed away- Jeroen is about to start cooking as the bell rings. He walks to the front door, opens it and sees Johan’s grinning face.

He says: “I will make fish with a strong umami taste. Are you staying for supper? We have something to celebrate, don’t we? “

*Umami is the so-called fifth taste.

Challenges

Written by Deborah Jordaan

Good day to our loyal readers out there. This week I want to talk about the different challenges we face every day. We all think ours is worse than someone else’s but it’s the levels that differ.

Some are mental challenges and mental health has a stigma.

The challenges today’s children face in their daily lives at school and in their peer groups are harrowing for children. Peer pressure is extreme at times and the children get to the point of suicide and other toxic substances.

In my opinion, there isn’t enough help out there at the school level to help their mental minds. Also with the health system splitting at the seams their social workers are so swamped with cases they can’t get to everyone.

PTSD is also so severe in all people and a lot of adults. Army veterans suffer terribly and the help that is available for them is also very scarce.

They fight for our country and the things they experienced don’t get addressed when they leave the army, they turn to alcohol and other substances and also affect the relationships they are in. They are carrying too many different feelings of anger and resentment toward humanity in a sense. The wives and partners don’t understand them then relationships go awry.

Cheating in relationships is a challenge on its own.

Let’s look at why do men cheat?

Maybe he married the wrong woman who is self-absorbed and selfish. Boredom is a contributing factor to the wife, once she is married and the honeymoon stage is over he wakes one day to find “Shrek “ next to him.

She stops taking care of herself because her excuse is she has children now plus ten cats and one dog. Women sometimes make work for themselves to avoid intimacy.

Then you wonder why is your husband out the door at nine at night playing dominoes with his friends?

The women do get caught up in daily life and you as a woman might have a douchebag of a husband that wants you looking like Michelle Pfeiffer all day, what the hell? She is tired. Why can’t he cook and see to the children at night?

Physically disabled people also have so many challenges that their daily lives are affected in so many ways.

We as normal people take for granted all the things like going to the bathroom, taking something out of a cupboard and many others. When we complain we are too tired we don’t want to walk; we must realise the paraplegic in a wheelchair cant just get up and walk around the garden.

The physically disabled would love to do what we can do yet we are ungrateful for the things we can do and take for granted.

To normal people, it’s part of our daily lives to do physical activities but they need an able-bodied person to do their daily chores. That person assisting the disabled person also has challenges they face and they can’t just go to the doctor as they might be the only one taking care of the said person.

The person assisting the physically disabled person faces mental and physical challenges, no one asks them how they are doing or if they need assistance!

My parting words will be, be thankful and stay blessed. May the universe shower you with abundance.

Love Letters

Written by Neshni Naidoo

We traditionally think of a love letter in romantic terms. But did you know that you receive love letters from God every day?

It comes in the form of an answer to a prayer or a question that you voiced. This love letter appears in the most unexpected places – a song, a line in a movie, a photo, something in nature, a phone call from a friend or even a random page in a random book.

How do I know this? Well, I have received many love letters, but only when my heart was open and my mind as clear as the summer sky.

On days when I need a reminder of His Love, I find hearts. A heart-shaped leaf in my garden. A guinea fowl feather with a heart pattern on my dad’s passing anniversary. Heart-shaped cherries on a family outing to the cherry farm. A heart shape in a tree on Mother’s Day. Finding these hearts lightens and brightens my day and makes my heart expand with love.

My other love letters come in the form of signs – on cars, billboards, or buildings. Each of these is a special message that I needed to reflect on and help me on my journey. I love to sing, especially when I am driving. I was singing one of my favourite hymns, “How Great Thou Art” and when I looked across, the taxi next to me had the words, “Jesus Loves You,” on the rear windscreen. It was confirmation as if God were saying, “I hear you.”

On another day, the car in front of me had a sticker on the rear window – it was a cross with the text 29:11. This verse from the bible states:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

– Jeremiah 29:11

This came on a day when I was paralysed by self-doubt.

There are days when I don’t see or hear anything. It is usually when I am functioning on autopilot or have filled my day with busy-ness.

This article is not a brag post but a reminder that we are blessed – we are loved. Pause, breathe and be aware – be awake. If we are sleepwalking through life – putting our attention only on the material, we will miss the miracles that surround us – we will miss the love letters that God is sending us to guide us and light up our way through the darkness.

Are you aware of the love letters you have received?

Wishing you love and light.