The little garden, a postage stamp oasis in the middle of the Karoo, where a group of well-dressed people were gathered around a small bench. My opening line using words like lushness, splendor etc, was a success and I was invited to step through the gate.
In a short while I had them pegged as good Christian folk, they told me they were going to Laingsburg in the morning for a church service. My favourite was Ouma, at 81, she was holding court in this minuscule garden.
I was told about the back garden which was also very nice. To get there I must go through the dark doorway, past the carport and the garden is at the end of the driveway.
A second group of people beckoned me from that dark doorway and I entered the carport.
Induced by cheap box wine, nine pairs of blurry red eyeballs stared at me in silence. Animal hides were hanging on the wall alongside stuffed animal heads. The small neat house with the tiny lush garden had just taken on a Jekyll and Hyde persona, I was now standing front and center in the soul of Mr. Hyde. I was also out of opening lines as I figured gardening wouldn’t be this group’s strong point.
Once everyone’s eyes acclimatised, theirs and mine, and the camera spotted, pandemonium broke out. It was difficult to keep up with the different sitting requests; this one with that one, that one with this one. A baby mysteriously appeared and the session started from scratch again. At some point Ouma slipped into the Hyde side and screeched at the group to behave themselves or piss off, they were making a noise. I was fairly embarrassed as I was hoping she wouldn’t notice I was having more fun on this side than her side. Things started to get out of hand, I figured I had a few nuggets and started my retreat. Arms were pulling me back for more but I clambered out back into the light. The Jekyll’s were laughing at me and invited me to church the next day, I declined, but thanks.
I saw the back garden that I missed a few days later as I drove out the village. Abnormally tall Sunflowers were stretching to the sky, looking immensely out of place in the surrounding desert landscape, they were right, it was nice.