A Telephone Call from Erina

Wim Boswinkel

[An extract from Erina]

Then came that call from Erina.

We had just finished our supper and I was seated, with Sarah on my lap, in an easy chair on the verandah. It was one of those delightful evenings: a cool breeze compensated for the heat of a few hours ago and didn't give the mosquitoes a chance, the moon had just appeared above the horizon and the stars in the sky inspired me to sing Twinkle, twinkle, little star with Sarah, which was her favourite nursery rhyme after Are you sleeping? and Old McDonald had a farm.

Naya, who had stayed inside the house to cut a pattern, picked up the phone.

Bond, our black Labrador, rested his head on my free leg. I gave him a big piece of the cake that Naya had served with my coffee, because I had started to develop what could easily become a pot belly and I didn't want to contrast too much with my wife. Sarah crowed with exultation, because of the chorus she always liked best of all.

Far away, on the other side of the valley, I watched the lights of the manor of Robert Day, who could hardly ever leave the country these days, because new foreign currency control measures didn't allow him to change more than one thousand pound sterling per year. It frustrated him immensely; what a boring life he had to lead now, and then all those black managers he was forced to employ and to put in the bungalows! And after the elections things would probably turn even worse. Neither was South Africa a safe haven for whites any longer, and in Australia he would have to clean his own toilet.

Naya's voice sounded excited, curiously I turned my head a little, to be able to catch something of what was being said.

"Wednesday, OK, we will be there, keep well," I heard her say before she put the receiver back.

"Erina," she called at me, "Erina is coming back!"

The singing of the crickets was not interrupted for a moment, neither did the breeze lie down. Bond still kept his head on my leg, but inside myself everything had changed.

Happy, shocked, frightened, I couldn't keep up with my confused feelings.

Sarah looked scared, she realised that something serious had happened.

"And Old McDonald had a farm," I began.


Boswinkel, Wim. Erina Bulawayo: 'amaBooks [P.O.Box 9160, Hillside, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe]. ISBN 0-7974-2539-X

Zimbabwe OV Literature Wim Boswinkel

Last modified 27 June 2003