“Text me when you get there, and when you leave,” he said.
“I will,” I said and took the road to Yanchep about 20km from us. The speed limit is between 60km/h and 80km/h most of the way, part of it is illuminated and parts are dark enough to throw on the brights. It is not a dangerous stretch of road at all.
I arrive at the birthday girl’s addy and as I get in and become part of the introductions I quickly excuse myself and say, “I just want to text my hubby quickly, to let him know I am here safe and sound.”
And she says, “Oh, I have another South African friend who also has to text her hubby when she arrives at a place. It must be a South African thing.”
Another expat chirps in, “It is a hard habit to break.”
An expat friend kept getting texts from her hubby updating her about what he and the kids were up to. Then later he told her he was going to bed and he was sorry that he won’t be up when she arrived home, because he was really knackered. He knows she is night blind and was worried. Not checking up or anything, but just concerned, even though she basically lives up the street from where she was.
A couple of weeks ago the same statement was asked as a question. My PT asked me what me and hubby do when the kids are in bed. When I told him that we go and sit in the two tub chairs next to the piano, we have a cuppa and we chinwag, he literally teared up and asked, “Is that a South African thing?”
I do not know. Is it?
Is it not a sign of caring when your husband is concerned whether you arrive safely at your destination? Is it not how it is supposed to be in a marriage? Making eye contact and checking in with your mate and hear how his day has been?
I do not think that it is a South African thing per se. But, I do think that it is quite visible in us because of a couple of reasons.
Checking in with your partner about arriving safe at a place needs no explanation to us. We know that roads are places fraught with potential risks. We understand that one trip can have an everlasting repercussion in our families. It is important to know whether our loved ones arrived safely. For that moment we can breathe a bit easier, until they are safe under our roofs again.
When you migrate to a strange country with new places and new things to experience, you leave your family, your support structure behind. You have only one another. You have your life partner by your side, you know that one glance is enough to understand what the other is feeling. Migration tends to either cement a marriage or unravel it. Our husbands/wifes and children become our anchor in a very rough sea, and we have to ensure that they are all right.
Is it a South African thing to care? No. We do however understand that family… family is what keeps us going, and in order for us to keep going, we have to keep them going.
Dear Migrant to the Great South Land, bring your whole South Africanness with you. Bring your caring attitude, bring your strong life partnerships and bring your strong spiritual intelligence. Bring it with you. That ‘boer maak ’n plan’ mentality, and that ‘vasbyt tot die einde’ determination.
Your attitude of ‘ek sal my hande tot die been afwerk vir my kinders’ and your ‘ek sal enige iets doen’ motivation will come and stand you in good stead.
Keep some of your roots in the country of your skull, and come put new roots down in the country down under. Combine these roots and take up the nourishment that both continents provide, it is what makes you you!
And when you are asked whether it is a South African thing, you can answer, “I don’t know, is it? It’ s just how we as a family do things.” Possibly, we can give some one else a bit of hope that there is a different way of doing things. A way where you care about the safe arrival of your loved one, and a way where you still sit down and talk.
Hoping to meet you soon at these shores of ‘Straya.