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The way we lived 22. (Part 2) Finding love.

Updated: Jun 5, 2023

Round-the-Cape-Peninsula Drive[8]

So now we’ve headed west and then a bit southward around the northern end of the Cape Peninsula. Hout Bay is ahead with its Harbour on the right below the dark Sentinel. The lighter Chapman’s Peak is opposite, on the left. This is the smallest of the Mother City’s three bays, also the most intimate, and arguably the prettiest. The beautiful-looking sea is brass monkey stuff – ask the guys! It’s straight from the Antarctic.


We met in my second year at Uni; Zonjia was a second-year trainee nurse with a reputation for outspokenness that had her in matron’s office a few times. Yes, she has a withering tongue … of truth. I learned to give up my less correct ways, but I still occasionally swear. Zonjia NEVER does! “But it’s so unnecessary.” At least Natasje and Sohrab are with me on this one. Thanks, kids!

There were other delights to enhance our times together. Besides sandwiches and chicken, we shared other moments, always sensational whether it was going to the movies, parties, plays at The Little Theatre and treating ourselves to an ice cream shake on the Grand Parade. The Parade is opposite the City Hall where, in 1990, Nelson Mandela would appear in public on the balcony after twenty-seven years in prison. But, the attraction in 1967 and 1968 was the ice cream shakes at the first and second of many stalls that vied for business. Immediately behind the stall was another one that sold sour figs, a Cape Town treat much loved by Zonjia, despite the resultant cramping need for a toilet after a while. Cape Town’s Non-Whites Only toilets were not the best. I used to wonder what it was like behind the Whites Only toilet doors? Did they have air freshener?

Another of our “Love is …” moments for both of us was me cycling five kilometres one night to see Zonjia at a friend’s twenty-first birthday party. Picture Zonjia in a long, black and light green satin dress and high heels. She looked stunning. Naturally, she enthralled me! Now picture me – I had on a light blue jeans and top. Now picture her again, all decked out like that, and she’s sitting on the bar of my bike, and we go for a spin or two around the carpark. How could I not fall for her??

We had fun at our parties, including some wild student functions. Enough said! One night Zonjia missed the eleven o’clock curfew. Locked out, we resorted to the nurses’ emergency entrance when I helped Zonjia to climb through the bottom gap in the “S” of the wrought iron gate which had “NSH” across it. Entry into the locked nurses’ home was through a nursing colleague’s window.

On my side, I arrived home after sunrise one morning. My mother admonished me, of course. “At least come home before the sun rises, my boy!” I just had to love Rita at times like that!

The nascent writer wrote love poems in those days. One of my first was short and sweet. It followed on the black-and-white selfie done on my dad’s old Retina 2, collapsible, small bellows camera from World War 2 days. Here it is: —>

From our lunar bench experiences, maybe “Eternal sunsets” should have been “Eternal moonrises!”

Zonjia was/is as honest as they come. So, on a bus ride back to the hospital one day, I tell her that we should get off about four stops before the hospital and walk back the rest of the way. So we get up from the downstairs seat and move to the platform at the back of the bus[No side doors in those days.] While the bus slows down, Zonjia waves to the conductor upstairs to pay our fare which we did. I could not believe it. The main reason to get off the bus early was so that we did not have to pay. I was gobsmacked! There were other occasions, and it did not take me long to reform that part of me too. As to lying, I found that I could not remember the lies. I’m now as good at telling the truth as her these days!

Our music interests were entirely Catholic. Beatles and others for pop, even the Little Red Donkey at parties. Charles Aznavour, Percy Sledge, and Joan Baez were our favourites. We enjoyed classical music on twelve-inch LP’s. A struggling medical student borrowed his symphonies and concertos from the Cape Town central library. The Cape Town gardens, behind the library, was an excellent place to meet up after a day of study in the library on a Saturday. We would not go to the weekend orchestral productions in the City Hall because of the segregated seating. So imagine our first performance together – Royal Albert Hall in London. No, not the Proms. Just brilliant!

By bus, train and another bus we travelled south to the Boulders Beach where there were no penguins in those days. Clovelly pool was another False Bay site that we visited occasionally. It was only after marriage that we tramped up Table Mountain.

So, what about marriage? No, I did not do it on bended knee! More like Zonjia said, “Why don’t we get married?” Now there was a slight preamble to this when those eyes teased me one day with her statement that she wanted to have thirteen children! No, I did not run away even at that prospect. Yes, it was another “Love is …” moment! So, off to court, we went while we were still students. <– This photo taken by the street photographer outside the Cape Town GPO on Darling street on 23.10.1968 caught us on our way to get married.

And the rest, I suppose, is history. I’m still captivated by this wonderful woman who never ceases to amaze me with her capacity for her love, not only for me but her children, her family, her glamchildren and her friends.

How lucky was I to go to that party in 1966 even though I should have been convalescing just four days out from thyroid surgery? Would I do it all again? You can bet on it – every single day of the last fifty-two and a bit years!

Here’s a sample of us over the years:

Cape Town where it all began, till 1982

Kuwait – hotter than our love, till 1984

Auckland, NZ, till 1994 – still beckons!

Copeton Dam, a caravanning favourite NSW, to date, 2019.

Me and my jewel in Oman, the Pearl of the Gulf, till 2005 – Rustaq Fort

…. fifty years on, our mob! Coffs Harbour, NSW


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