Heinrich Wicht se Pretorius buurman
Heinrich Wicht vertel in sy boek "Road Below Me" van die tydperk in sy lewe wat hy op die Kaapse Vlakte met groente probeer boer het. Hy sê: "I always wanted to go to the sea, but my mother made it clear that this was out of the question. If I couldn't be a doctor, in the family tradition - and this was manifestly impossible owing to my "resistance to education", then I would have to be a farmer. In those days many people still believed that it was the ideal occupation for the fool in the family."
Oor die ligging van sy plasie sê hy: "To get to my holding, I used to take a train to a station called Ottery. From there it was necessary for me to walk about six miles along lonely, sandy tracks, overshadowed by the Australian scrub."
Hy het op daardie stadium in groot isolasie gewoon, maar met die skryf van die boek het die huis wat hy daar gebou het deel gevorm van 'n woonbuurt. Hy sê o.a. "These were my strange associates of the Cape Flats. Marthinus, the respectable coloured man, bearded and Arab-like; the now nameless drunken philosopher of the motor-case; Murphy, the hunchbacked printer; and one or two other colourful characters like old Pretorius."
Van "old Pretorius" vertel hy die volgende:
"Pretorius was a retired railway ganger, and he lived among the dunes, with a very fat wife, and eleven daughters ranging in age from fourteen to forty. The old man, who must have been quite eighty, looked like a popular illustration of Jehovah. For some reason I cannot now recall, I once spent a night in the Pretorius homestead. I remember the occasion, however, very well.
Before turning in, we all sat on bentwood chairs round the walls of the voorhuis, while the old, white-bearded Pretorius read a chapter from the Bible. After we had sung a hymn, the youngest daughter went out and returned with a bucket of water. Kneeling down before the patriarch, she proceeded to wash his feet. We were all barefooted—in that sandy country with so much water lying about, most people went without shoes—yet the little girl made no attempt to minister to her mother and her sisters. From her father she came across to me. Much to my embarrassment, she thoroughly scrubbed my feet, paying particular attention to the spaces between the toes.
I remember being a little worried about the sleeping accommodation. The house was a wattle-and-daub structure with three rooms in a row, and a lean-to kitchen behind. The partitions went up to rafter level, but there was no ceiling—and thus very little privacy. The middle room was the voorhuis or living-room, on either side were bedrooms. Where was I going to sleep? I suspected I would have to bed down on the dung floor of the voorhuis. Presumably, Ma and Pa slept in one bedroom, the eleven girls in the other. To my surprise, I was ushered into the room on the left where there was a massive double bed with a feather mattress, and at least four lesser couches. I found that I was going to share the room with several of the daughters—and the double bed with father !"