Andries Bezuidenhout. The Highveld is a shit place to be in spring

“Noag net ʼn storie,” sê Prof. Dís nou een van Beeld se lokplakkate vanoggend. Wat word volgende as nasionale nuus aangebied?

“Die Paashaas bestaan nie,” beweer navorser.

Wilde stelling in Parlement: “Vader Kersfees net ʼn mite.”

Soms wil ek vir altyd ophou om Afrikaans te praat. Dit gebeur gewoonlik tydens, of pas na kunsfeeste. Maar dan onthou ek dat die hele mensdom stapelgek is. Dink byvoorbeeld aan George W. Bush. En gaan kyk hoe die Daily Sun oor heksery verslaglewer.

Is dít die rede waarom Gert Vlok Nel se een tune in my kop draai vanoggend? “Moenie vir my alleen agterlaat in hierdie land waar hulle nog hekse verbrand nie, hierdie aaklige, aaklige land nie…” Ook ‘n tune van The Buckfever Underground.

Waarom my slegte bui vanoggend? Vreemd hier in Johannesburg as die stofwolke so begin waai en dan kom die eerste druppels reën. Daar’s modderspatsels teen die woonstel se vensters. Die eerste behoorlike donderbui sal dit afwas. Die jasmyn ruik lekker, maar ek is altyd hartseer aan die einde van die winter. Ek hou van winter op die Hoëveld, anders as Toast Coetzer, alhoewel sy liriek hier onder daaroor nogal oortuigend is.

(The Buckfever Underground, liriek deur Toast Coetzer)

the Highveld is a big road flanked by roads and towns and cities and smoking chimneys and empty grasslands which are always burnt for our pleasure I’m always in a car hands stuck in a cubby-hole fingers in a tape deck clothes to my seat dust and smoke the endless flavour of winter frozen dogshit in the suburbs where the mornings start white and frosty and the afternoons end white and crusty with streetlamps and Egoli I panic when I can’t see the stars I panic when the sun is a central smog and my direction is a stoned pigeon wrapped in a map there’s tea and milktart from relatives in cages good people who sigh in their homes and lock their toilets and hide their doormats under their keys in the flat parts of the Free State the weavers flock aimlessly under dimmed lights build their nests dangling from concrete silos and steel pylons even in the marshes the reeds bend and break on their own under a heavy low sky waiting for the slime dam to sweep them into definition farming here is an endless wait for December rains an endless locking of gates to keep the cattle in and the locusts out and the violence in the paper little kids buy ice-cream and Niknaks from the One Stop and their stuffed cheeks full of sharp teeth clatter and glisten and laugh at roadkill Florida and Philadelphia and Virginia are in the states Monte Video the capital of Paraguay or Uruguay so why the fuck also on the Highveld the people here are ugly in their cars and pretty in their bars where hands are for counting money hanging gears throwing signs and clenching fists life becomes a fiddling for frequencies in between disruptive factories for foreigners and the retracing of daily steps to AllBran Flakes and uncomfortable sex you’re never on solid ground there are people everywhere digging out gold and hiding places and finding bad lungs and unexpected sinkholes in bathtubs people think of murder when they eat in restaurants consider rape when they go for a jog while Golden Retrievers lounge in Northcliff and think of Alaska the city is littered with untidy people who look at hands on the corners of tables and buildings with the reflection of a cloud framed by a neon triangle the open veld is rare and littered with derelict pigfarms and sootfilled sunflower fields with only remote aspirations of becoming Floro margarine the cement is a passive smoker with filters growing on it like disorganised ticks and the red dust mixes with smoke at sunset to become sentimental gravel I’m never here because I want to I’m a co-pilot a navigator a shotgun-sitter measuring the miles between historical sites and toilets for my mom if you sit still for long enough they’ll steal your kidneys and while a friendly nod can kill you a playful wink can cost you a weekend if I stay here for too long I’ll become an active abuser a topflight loser a successful gimmick or a professional skunk with labels and a mean piss

the Highveld is a shit place to be in winter

As ek vanmiddag Potchefstroom toe ry vir Aardklop, verby die myne, verlede seisoen se mieliestoppels, betraliede drankwinkels, slap drade, sal ek Toast se woorde probeer memoriseer.

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