ZULULAND LETTER: Where do you go to my lovely?

Maria closes her eyes.

She is lying on the deck of a big white motor yacht, moored off Juan-les-Pines on the Côte d’Azur.

In her carefully designed topless swimsuit she gets an even suntan, the sun’s rays feeling like the hands of a lover.

Her own lover is not on the boat.

Carlos, the golden brown Greek god, is somewhere in the water catching dinner.

He’s young and fit, and will probably come back with a feast of crayfish for them to dine on.

They will have it with Napoleon Brandy, on the deck, under the stars.

If she looks over the side right now, she will probably see him; pushing his bronze body effortless through the clear blue water, but the sun’s rays are stinging her eyes so she pulls the wide brim Versache hat lower.

Carlos is such a wonderful man, handsome, and very rich.

They just sail from one island to the next.

It’s how he lives, and it’s also her life now.

Who would have thought that she, Maria Johanna Magdalena van Staden from Klerksdorp would ever get so lucky?

She did the right thing to leave Piet.

He was okay in the beginning – Piet.

He brought her a pack of salted peanuts every day where she worked at Flippen Lekker Hoener as kitchen manager.

They were supposed to honeymoon in Hibberdene, but Piet talked her into buying a five-sleeper Jurgens caravan, and instead they went camping next to the Vaal River by Orkney.

Piet said the Jurgens is an investment and instead of wasting money on one week by the sea, they can go camping often because they own a holiday home on wheels.

On their honeymoon Piet caught a 14kg Carp which he grilled on the Cadac.

They ate by candle light because the Jurgens’ cabin light attracted millions of mosquitos.

On the sea there’s no mosquitos, but Carlos is a romantic and they eat by candle light every night.

Even the way he pronounces her name with his Latin accent is so romantic: ‘Meria my love, you are zee flower of my heart…’

Piet made her name sound so common;

‘Ma-rie-ha, fetch me another beer from the boot!’

She hates Piet now and cannot believe she married him.

The sun is burning hot on the boat’s deck but the light breeze coming over the ocean cools her.

She’s feeling a bit sleepy, especially with Peter Sarstedt’s gentle voice coming from below deck through the boat’s sound system;

‘Where do you go to my lovely, when you’re alone in your bed…?’

Maybe she’ll take just a quick nap because she wants to take a shower before Carlos comes back.

She wants to look her best for him.

Marieha! Marieha…!

She hears her name.

It must be Carlos who’s on his way back.

She comes up on one elbow and lifts the brim of her hat with the other hand.

The sun’s rays blind her for a moment but eventually the blurry white and yellows become a clear image.

The whites take on the form of a five-sleeper Jurgens and the yellows turn into a Ford Cortina under a dead thorn tree.

‘Marieha Johanna Magdalena!

Wake up dammit!

Get off that tjoep because you busy floating to Parys.

Get Gert and I each another beer from the boot.

And while you at the car, put the Leon Schuster tape in because your Porra tunes are chasing the fish away.

As she slips into the brown ice cold water her sunglasses fall off her head and are immediately lost in the murk.

Piet’s going to be upset because he bought them for her at the Klerksdorp fleamarket on their anniversary.

At least he won’t see that she’s crying because she’s wet.

As she paddles towards the bank she makes the decision;

Monday, when Piet goes to work, with a headache and five Grandpa powders in his overall’s breast pocket, she will pack her bags.

She shall run away to Richards Bay.

It’s like Klerksdorp by the sea but at least it’s far away from the misery that is her life with Piet.

Val van der Walt

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