ColorBlind – A heartbreaking romantic suspense book by Eve Rabi – Excerpt 5
Posted by Eve Rabi Author
Apartheid: noun, historical, a policy or system of segregation or discrimination on grounds of race.
Decades before Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa, the country was rigorously governed by various pro-apartheid acts, including the Immorality Act, where sex between white and other ethnic groups was a criminal offence. Both parties contravening the Immorality Act would be imprisoned for up to ten years.
Under that law, Shabba and Sarie’s love was declared a crime and both of them were imprisoned. Now, one of them must risk all to save the other. A heartwarming tale of love, loss, redemption and … revenge!
If you haven’t read the first FOUR excerpts in this series, please click on the link below:
(NB: This is a raw excerpt, not yet professionally edited, so please overlook any errors in this piece)
The story continues …
“Boo!” I said, barging in on Katrina and Fendi.
“Hai, Sarie, why you spying on me?” Katrina demanded, rushing to the door, pulling me in and shutting it.
“I’m not. I’m –”
“You tell no one about this, you hear?” She shook her finger in my face as she threatened me.
“About what?” I asked, as I took in the rags in Fendi’s hands. “Why?”
“Because why, I say so, Sarie!” Katrina said in an impatient voice.
“Because why is not the correct way to speak. School says –”
“Hai, Sarie! Don’t tell me, school says this, school says that … elsewise, I will klup you if you blerry rude to me, okay?”
I backed off and silently watched Fendi tie the rags around Katrina’s stomach, tighten them, then pull her top over them.
“Sarie just wants a flat stomach,” Fendi said in a gentle voice, when she saw the confusion in my eyes.
“Can you tie my stomach too?” I asked.
Fendi jerked back in surprise, then smiled and said, “Sure, Sarie. Come closer.”
So, Fendi tied rags about my middle, making it really flat. Then, she gave me a hug and sent me off. Fendi was very sweet and kind, and second to Katrina, I liked her a lot.
“Where were you?” Shabba asked when I got to him.
“Flattening my stomach,” I said.
I lifted up my top and showed him my stomach.
“That’s just silly,” he said.
“No, it isn’t.”
“Yes, it is!”
“No, it isn’t!”
“Yes, it is!”
“Sarie! Shabba! Stop it you two,” Fendi called from the other room. “You two are always arguing. Just stop it!”
I glared at Shabba. He stuck his tongue out at me. I stuck mine at him. He made ugly faces.
“Your face is going to look like forever!” I said. “You wait and see!”
He quickly stopped his ugly faces, then said, “Hey, you wanna see the tadpoles?”
“Okay, but we have to walk slowly, because these bandages around my stomach is making it hard for me to breathe.”
“Want me to take ‘em off?”
“Ja, but … don’t tell Fendi and Katrina.”
“Okay,” Shabba said, removing the bandages from around my stomach. “Oh, man, you’ve got red tyre tracks around your stomach!”
I looked at my tyre tracks and frowned.
“Here, let me …” He gently rubbed the marks away. “My dad used to do this for my mum when she had a stomach ache,” Shabba explained. “Then he would do this.” Shabba gently kissed my stomach. “Better?”
Then, he bent down, put his lips to my stomach and blew bubbles on it, tickling it and causing me to scream with laughter. He grinned, then blew more bubbles on my stomach, more vigorously, causing me to shriek and squirm with laughter again.
“My mum used to do that to me all the time,” he said. “Didn’t your ma ever do that to you?”
I shook my head. I didn’t remember my mother or father being that kind and affectionate and playful toward me. Katrina, Mama Tsela and Agnes cuddled me from time to time, but not my parents.
Perhaps my disappointment at my parents showed, because Shabba’s grin was replaced by a look of sympathy. He pulled down my top, planted a tender kiss on my forehead, took my hand in his, and together, we skipped over to the tadpoles.
Months later, Mama Tsela rounded up all the children, and in an excited voice said, “Come see Katrina’s baby girl. She’s soooo beautiful!”
“What? A baby? Katrina’s baby?” I was totally stunned. I had no idea Katrina was going to have a baby. I knew that she was getting fat, I knew she was cranky, I knew that she was always eating soured figs marinated in vinegar, which Mama Tsela made for her, but her stomach, it just didn’t look big like the other servants did when they were pregnant. Then I remembered the bandages she tied around her stomach. Could she have been trying to hide the baby? I wondered. My mind, as little as it was, worked overtime to figure out why she would hide such a thing.
I ran ahead of the other children, all the way up to Katrina’s room and barged inside. There was Katrina in bed, a little bundle of pink and white in her arms.
I gasped at the sight of the real-life porcelain doll with eyes as blue as mine and masses of curls the color of lit-up copper. “Ooh, she’s so beautiful, Katrina! What’s her name?”
“Agnes,” Katrina said.
I looked up at Katrina. “Agnes? Your ma’s name?”
Tears welled in Katrina’s eyes as she nodded. Not knowing what to say, I stared at her, and watched a big fat tear roll down her cheek and plopped over Agnes.
Fendi, who was in the room folding clothes, walked over, gave Katrina a hug, then wiped away the tear from the baby’s face.
I scratched my head, affected by Katrina’s tears, but when I looked at the baby, I forgot about all about Katrina’s tears and smiled. “You are my l’il poppie (doll),” I said, falling instantly in love with little Agnes. From that moment on, Agnes was called ‘Poppie’ by everyone around, because she was as beautiful as a porcelain doll.
After Poppie was born, Katrina was a changed girl. She stopped running and jumping and hanging upside down on trees. She dressed like Agnes used to, wore a scarf around her head all the time and an apron. She also took her mother’s place and began working inside our house. (The only thing that didn’t change was the threat to klup us all at the drop of a hat. That continued regardless of age or maturity.) With Poppie slung around her back and secured with a blanket, African style, Katrina carried out her chores, humming songs to Poppie as she did. She was a wonderful mother even though she was so young. The way she looked at Poppie – it was the same way Agnes had looked at her. It was the way Mama Tsela looked at Fendi and Shabba. It was the same way pa had looked at popsicle-loving Laurika. It was the way Shabba looked at Baba. It was the way Baba looked at Shabba. As I watched Katrina hug and kiss her baby over and over again, pangs of envy engulfed me; everyone had someone to look at that way, and someone who looked at them that way, but me. I was the outsider, the afterthought, the superfluous little girl.
As I watched them all, I said a prayer – Dear God, please send me someone to look at. You know, the way Katrina looks at Poppie. And make sure they look at me like that too, with teeny tiny eyes. Oh, but make them like, older or my age or younger, I’m not fussy. I just want to be able to also play with them. And please make them white, so that they will be allowed to live with me in the Garden of Eden. That’s all, thank you God.
God answered my prayers right away, because within seconds, Katrina pulled me in for a hug and kissed the top of my head several times. “You are still my number one kind,” she said, planting kisses all over my face “Don’t ever forget that.” I hugged her back, and clung to her, relieved that I was number one and Poppie was number two. Well, I assumed that Poppie was number two.
Then, Poppie began to cry. Katrina hastily released me to pick up the baby, and began to use a voice reserved strictly for Poppie. I got mad with the doll for interrupting my cuddle. Not too mad, though. It was Poppie, how could I possibly be mad at her?
God was obviously on the job, because moments later, Fendi reached for me, pulling me in for a hug. “Come here, Sarie,” she said, “You are our baby sister and you will always be our baby sister. Don’t ever forget that, okay?” I hugged Fendi back, and stayed in her arms for a while, basking in the love of my big sister.
All the servants fell in love with Poppie, and she soon became the local mascot. She was so loved, the servants fought to babysit the little doll.
“Blerry dronkies,” my mother said at the dinner table, when she heard about the baby. “She don’t know who the father is. I betchu she doesn’t. I betchu. Blerry barbarians, that’s what they are. Pregnant at the age of thirteen. ’Magine that.” Shaking her head, she took a big sip of her vodka.
As young as I was, I didn’t appreciate her talking that way about Katrina and Poppie, so I spoke up. “Eh, ma, you said you were fifteen when you met Pa.”
“Ja, but that’s different. I knew who the father of my baby was, okay? And we got married quickly, okay?” She pointed her vodka glass at me as she defended herself. “I was a beauty queen, too, so it was different, okay? I was mature and responsible, ay? So hou jou bek, ‘kay?” She shook her glass so hard, some of her vodka spilled out of her glass and ran down her hand. She hastened to lick the vodka off her hand. Maybe losing her vodka angered her more, because she said, “Big people’s business, Sarie, big people’s business. Didn’t your father say not to get involved in big people’s business? Ay?”
I snuck a look at my father. As usual, he simply swirled his red wine in his goblet, his eyes focused solely on it.
Even though she had called Katrina a dronkie (which didn’t make sense, because I had never seen Katrina drink alcohol), my mother didn’t care that a baby was around – she was just relieved that Katrina could replace missing Agnes in the kitchen and take care of me, so that she could enjoy her ‘me’ time. Enjoy her champagne breakfasts, and afternoon cocktails pre siestas and sunset drinks and pre-dinner drinks, and dinner drinks and after dinner drinks and nightcaps. I was a distraction, asking umpteen questions and constantly meddling in big people’s business. Katrina’s reappearance left her free to handle those recurrent migraines with the potent medicine that she had drank in crystal glasses, and sometimes from the bottle itself. As for my father, the man of God, he said nothing – whenever he saw the baby, he just stared, sometimes turning to look at the child. Luckily, he had no problem with the child being around.
I think it’s fair to say that the highlight of my childhood, was the treehouse Baba built for us. It was just awesome! You must remember that during apartheid times, for children of color living on a white man’s property, there were no recreational amenities available to them. No parks, swings, public swimming pools, skateboard areas, libraries, basketball courts, nothing!
Why? Well, during apartheid times, the South African government didn’t think it was necessary for children of color to have such amenities. Now, don’t get me wrong, there were parks and swings, and public swimming pols and basketball parks, and skateboard parks and libraries etc., but they all had a sign that said, ‘Slegs Blankes,’ which meant ‘White’s Only,’ or ‘Blanke Gebied’ which meant ‘White Area.’
If a child of color used those facilities, he would be breaking the law, so the police would be called. How often did that happen? It rarely did. Why? Because, before the police were called, the whites in the facilities would probably band together like some kind of neighborhood watch and kick the shit out of the poor child of color for ‘daring’ to use that facility. The police would not be needed. If that child was accompanied by a parent, that parent would also be beaten up for not restraining their child, for not knowing their place. They would be considered arrogant, cheeky and in need of a lesson. So, rarely did a child of color break that law. They would simply stand and watch white children from afar, enjoying amenities that they weren’t allowed to use. Unfair? Unjust? Morally reprehensible? Yeah, well, that my friend was the apartheid government for you.
The beach? Oh, yeah, there was a beach about twenty minutes away. Unfortunately, that too had a sign saying ‘Sleg’s Blanke,’ or ‘Blanke Gebied.’ There was another beach that black people or people of color could frequent. However, a child of color would have to take three modes of transport to the venue and three modes back. That was a lot of bus and train fare for servants who didn’t really get paid – they just got board and lodge from their bosses, and they were allowed to keep their children with them while they worked for the white man. So, going to the beach was out of the question for us. As a little boy in South Africa, I visited the beach twice in my life. That was it. Swimming lessons? First of all, they would cost money. Second, why take lessons when you aren’t going to use them? What’s the purpose? So, yes, I couldn’t swim and I still can’t.
Yet, as a child, I loved the beach. Loved splashing in the water, running toward a wave, then running away from it, changing my mind and running into it, laughing with delight. Fendi told me a story once about me and the beach. Apparently, my late mother and father had promised to take us to the beach. Something happened, and we couldn’t go. I demanded to know why. Someone told me that the beach got burnt. As young as I was, I threw a tantrum, and told them that the beach couldn’t burn. They argued with me, tongue in cheek, that the beach could. I disappeared for a while, only to reappear struggling to carry half a bucket of water. I put down the bucket of water and looked at my father. “Go on, dad, light it up. It won’t burn. Go on.”
“It’s not beach water, Shabba,” my father said.
“It’s the same thing, daddy!” I protested. “Water can’t burn.”
“Beach water is different, it does burn, Shabba!”
I got so frustrated with everyone, I kicked the bucket of water and started to cry.
According to Fendi, that is the story. I cannot remember any of it.
As you may know, apartheid laws governed where people could live. They restricted people of color, corralled them in inaccessible areas, while white people got to live in prime land. It was the law, and if you ever lived in a white man’s area, you would be imprisoned, because you were breaking the law.
Now those people of color who worked for companies and big businesses, they would live in their designated areas, usually an hour’s drive away from work. For their children, there would be one public swimming pool for about fifty thousand or more residents. It would jam packed, so you had to visit the pool either in the mornings, or in the afternoons. Once it was full, children were turned away. Also, children of color had to pay to enter the pool too.
Now, in white areas, there would be one public swimming pool for every fifteen thousand residents. Even better, entry to those swimming pools were free to white children. How about that?
Look, if the white government didn’t think it necessary to provide people of color with indoor plumbing and running water, or a stipulated minimum wage, do you really expect them to provide you with plumbing for a multiple swimming pools? Do you really think they would provide you access to public libraries like they did in white areas? Oh, and by the way, the apartheid government frowned upon public libraries. Why? Well, think about it now; libraries mean education, and an educated person of color was the oppressors biggest fear. Nelson Mandela was an educated man, an attorney, and look at the havoc he wreaked on the white oppressor when he demanded equality for all? When he declared that no person should be treated unfairly because of the color of their skin? Mandela was such a troublemaker to the apartheid government, they jailed him for twenty-seven years. Blame education, they did.
So, since we children of color had no amenities to entertain our young minds, the tree house that Baba built was the most exciting project I have ever worked on in my life. We kids scoured the land and neighbouring lands for logs and sticks and large leaves and stones and discarded rope and anything that we could possibly use to build our beloved tree house. It took us hours and it was a complete labour of love. It would be our park, swing, beach, library, swimming pool, all rolled into one, and we couldn’t wait for it to be completed.
For three weeks we toiled on it, because Baba could only build it when he was not at work. We worked side by side with Baba, passing him tools, helping him lift, helping him tighten stuff, helping him with every single thing. As he worked, Baba explained why he did what he did, why he added double the number of nails to one section, why he cut the wood the way he did. With great patience he taught and explained and gave us a lesson in woodwork and building. So, in essence Baba was my first teacher. My first woodwork and construction lecturer.
When the project was completed, we children were thrilled. The treehouse had two rooms, a balcony, (because we ran out of wood to add more roofing to one side of the tree house, we called it a balcony) a rope ladder, a tyre on another rope so that we could swing on it, some vines so we could move through the air like Tarzan, some discarded books from Sarie’s house and a make-shift swimming pool made out of a discarded bathtub we found on someone’s property.
“Baba, I had no idea you could build a house,” I said, looking at our beloved tree house in awe.
He said, “You know Shabba Baba, I had no idea I could build a house too. Do you like it?”
“I love it!” I said putting my arm around my grandfather’s waist and hugging him toward me.
Baba looked at Sarie.
“Ooh, Baba, I love it too!” Sarie said in a breathless voice.
Sarie had every toy you could think of, but she loved the treehouse the most. She actually helped build it too, so it was special to her!
Problem was, we had no furniture to decorate the tree house.
“Go ask your mother for furniture,” I said to Sarie. “Tell her … um … tell you don’t like your bedroom furniture and you want new … no, no, no – tell her someone said your furniture is old or broken. Or … “
“She won’t like that Shabba.”
“Ja, that’s why you say it. Say something like that. Then we can get your old furniture, Sarie.”
What a silly thing to say to a child. What a silly thing for a child to tell her mother. Dumb me.
Well, it was the best we could do. That night just before dinner, Sarie said, “Ma, what’s old fashioned furniture?”
Since I had a lot riding on how Sarie handles our furniture situation, I hid outside the window and eavesdropped, a favorite pastime of mine.
My drinking buddy Mazda, paused with her fuel injection and frowned at Sarie. “Who … who said that? Who got old-fashion furniture, ay? We? Who told you that? Ay? WHOOOO?” Her voice had a thread of panic to it.
Sarie lifted and dropped her shoulders. “Can’t remember, ma? I think I heard Tante Estrie or Tante Elzette say that our furniture is arme (Poor). Or maybe it was Oom Gar–”
Vroom! Vroom! Mad Mazda slammed her glass onto the table and exploded into high gear. “Blerry bitches! Blerry goffles!” The Mazda jumped to her feet and revved with fury, flames shooting out from her exhaust. “They are foking dying with jealousy because I married money and they don’t got what I got. I am rich! Rich! You hear? I married a rich man and their husband must work in a tyre factory and meat packaging plant, packing boerewors, morning to night. Blerry goggles! Blerry …”
That’s all it took – a silly, dumb comment from a servant’s child caused my happy hour buddy to make an announcement at the dinner table that night. “I am throwing out all the old furniture in Sarie’s room and buying new ones. I am also throwing out our sitting room and our dining room and our … everything!” (She meant she was throwing out the sitting room and dining room furniture).
“Why do you need to do that, Magda when we just redecorated the whole blerry place two years ago?” Schoeman, who had two families to feed from the Garden of Eden’s funds, grouched.
‘BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE TALKING, SCHOEMAN!”
“Calm down, Magda!” Schoeman said. “I’m just asking a question.”
Mazda slowly took her foot off the accelerator.
“People are saying that I married a poor man, Schoeman. They say I poor. That we poor. Ay? This is so embarrassing, Schoeman. I was a beauty queen and now I poor?” Mazda burst into tears.
“Magda, please,” the older man who married a striking beauty queen, a trophy wife, pleaded.
Mazda responded by throwing herself over the dining table, over the mashed potatoes and Porterhouse steak and mushroom and pepper sauce and sobbed like the way a heroine in a black and white movie would.
“Okay, okay, okay!” the pastor placated in a panicked voice. “You can do it, okay?”
Mazda stopped crying, sat down in her seat, poured herself a large glass of vodka, took a sip and said, “I want to change the bathroom tiles too.”
Two weeks later, a group of servants’ children carted Sarie’s old bedroom suite to the tree house. Along with the bedroom suit came chairs, a table and some cupboards – all the things we needed. It was awesome! Our tree house looked treemendous!
Oh, and we also received a box of used bathroom tiles, which we couldn’t use in the tree house, so we used them as brick pavers in muddy areas of the servant’s quarters.
From then on, whatever we needed for the tree house, Sarie and I would steal it from her house. It was like a real house, minus the bathroom. And electricity. And flooring. And plumbing for water.
Sadly, we children fought about who gets to play in the tree house, forcing Baba to assign us shifts. It worked, but it was pure agony waiting for your turn to play in the tree house.
Baba warned us in no unspecific turns that the tree house was out of bounds at night. He was stern about that and everyone listened to him. Except me. Some nights when I couldn’t sleep, I would creep into the tree house, lie on the balcony and watch the stars in the dark sky. Once I was lonely, so I thought about my partner in crime. Are you awake, Sarie?
I decided to see if I could reach her. Since the tree house faced her bedroom, I stole Baba’s work torch, took it to the tree house and shone it into her bedroom, using the light from the torch to write my name on her bedroom wall. Please see this and come to me, Sarie.
Within minutes, to my delight, I saw a figure in white hurtling toward the tree house.
“What are you doing, Shabba?” Sarie asked in a breathless voice as she climbed the rope ladder to the tree house.
“Signalling to you,” I replied, shining the torch in her face. “When I shine my torch, you must know that I am looking for you, and you must come, okay? I will write my name in lights. Like the way I did.”
“Sure!” she said in an excited voice.
“Pinkie promise?” I put out my little finger.
“Pinkie promise,” she said, looping her pinkie with mine.
After that, whenever I was in the tree house at night, I would shine my torch into the wall of her bedroom, and she would come over with snacks and drinks. We would spend hours in our precious treehouse gazing at the stars and talking about everything. Sometimes, we’d snuggle up and fall asleep, only to wake up with the sun and the birds. Sarie would then creep back into her house before her absence was discovered.
One day she said, “I don’t wanna go home. I want to stay with you.”
“All the time?” I asked.
She nodded. “Forever.”
“Oh, well, okay,” I replied after thinking about it for a few seconds. “But maybe we should get married, then we can always be together?”
She shrugged. “Okay.” She looked around. “We will need more rooms if we want to have children.”
I followed her eyes around the treehouse. She may have a point, I thought. “How many children are we going to have?”
She held up five fingers.
“Sarie, you are mad? Five? That’s too many!”
“Well, then how many, Shabba?” she snapped.
I shrugged. “Three? Four?”
She narrowed her eyes at me.
“Okay, fine, Sarie. We’ll have five children, then!”
And that’s how I first proposed to Sarie.
“And a puppy.”
“Now, that’s a good idea,” I said. “Hey, you should ask for a puppy now.”
“A tiny little one? A girl puppy?”
“No! You need a puppy that grows up into an attack dog.”
“This is what you do – tell your mother, Tante Esterie got a Rotweiller puppy for your cousin.”
Woof! Woof! A week later, the Vorsters got four Rotweiller pups. We helped name them – Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Mo.
We had no idea which was which, but it didn’t matter, because when we called Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Mo! all four pups hurtled toward us.
End of Excerpt
More excerpts coming next week, so make sure you’re following this blog.
When Arena’s car is stolen with her toddler in it, she points at Tom, her abusive ex-husband. The police point at Bear, her cop boyfriend, who adores both her, and her children. Trouble is, Bear cannot be found. In fact, according to the police, Bear’s comrades, he does not exist!
Arena’s whole world begins to tilt. Who does she believe? Who does she trust?
If you enjoy emotional tales of love and hate, peppered with suspense, you will be hooked on this gripping romantic crime and suspense thriller. It’s about revenge and the kind of love that can make you kill.
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About Eve Rabi AuthorEVE RABI is the author (and screenwriter) of 33 romantic crime & suspense thrillers. She is known for her kick-ass leading ladies, her sense of humor and her no-holes barred love stories. To quote an Amazon reviewer: “Eve Rabi is a 5 star general. Different, excellent, unputdownable. Eve Rabi is the lady for now and the Future.” For more info on Eve Rabi's books, and to download 4 free books, visit http://amzn.to/178qMZY
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