Monday, September 05, 2005

A Picture that says more than just a few words - Part 2

Go here for Part 1.

In getting back to discussing the picture that I've chosen to represent myself (for the time being), I'll drop the silly artifice of being the art lecturer discussing the picture with his students that I used before. Such twee behaviour is most unbecoming of me! But, I'll stick to discussing the elements of the picture that I identified before. So, still to discuss are...Um, seems like I can't escape the lecturing tone. Never mind, here goes:
Matola, Mozambique

  • Large trees behind child
  • Expanse of lawn below trees
  • Smaller tree to right of large trees
  • House in the distance behind the trees

  • Large trees behind child One of the smaller trees in the foreground, not readily visible, was a 'Pride of India' that covered itself in masses of pink blossoms at various times of the year. But, what about the large trees? Well, I don't remember anything about them except that they were large, but you can see that for yourself.

    What I do remember though, is that the monkey lived in a wooden box on top of a tall pole that stood under those trees. For most of the time he was tethered on a long chain that was attached to the pole. That sounds cruel, I know, and it seems odd that my mother would be cruel to an animal. There could have been a good reason for this - I'd like to think there was. He was sweet and very playful but could be horribly timid at times. He liked all of us, including the dogs, except my father. If my father walked by, he'd usually scamper up the pole and hide in his box. As I said before, my father hardly ever wore shorts but, one day, he happened to walk near the monkey wearing shorts and, amazingly, the monkey stayed put. Not only did he stay put, he ran towards my father, seeking attention, wanting to jump up on his shoulder like he did with everyone else.

    We quickly worked out that the trousers were the problem and, to be specific, trousers being worn by a male - my mother always wore trousers but he didn't have a problem with that. We experimented to see if the theory worked. Dad would appear with shorts then put his trousers on in front of the monkey and vice versa. The reaction was as to be expected. Daniel, the 'horse boy', who usually wore shorts, did the same thing. The reaction was the same. Had I had any trousers, we'd probably have tried the same experiment with me. I don't recall if my wearing my father's trousers was ever part of the experiment or not.

    My mother concluded that he must have been abused by a man wearing trousers. See, that's probably why he was tethered there - she must have rescued him from somewhere and was seeing to his rehabilitation.

    Expanse of lawn below the trees There isn't that much one can say about an expanse of lawn but one of the horses, Lotus, died a painful death from colic on that lawn. I only have dim memories of the events leading up to his death but I do remember him lying on his back, his body racked with shudders that seemed to go on and on and on. It was very late at night when he eventually died. It was horrible!

    Smaller tree to right of large trees It's difficult to make out the tree but if you look at what looks like a large white traffic cone against the hedge, near the right edge of the picture, you'll notice that there is almost a mirror image of the shape above it. That's the tree. It was a type of palm tree; the white at the bottom was paint - trees were often painted like that to prevent being attacked by ants and other insects. But, it's not this tree that was important, it's the area around the tree.

    That is where I had my own bit of the garden, the bit where I did my gardening. The area consisted of a large flower bed that stretched from the tree to the huge cycad at the entrance of the property. A very small part of the garden but, by English standards, much larger than many a suburban garden. It was full of plants 'stolen' from other parts of the garden and plants given to me by my father's cousin who lived next door. There was something very ad-hoc about it and my choice of plants and how I planted them were constantly being criticised by Daniel. I didn't like him very much.

    House in the distance behind the trees The Lehmans lived there. Mr Lehman was an American who never seemed to be there; Mrs Lehman, Matilda, was German, completely mad and I absolutely adored her. All the neighbourhood kids loved her to bits; to the parents she was largely a figure of ridicule. Their daughter, Elizabeth, spent most of the year at boarding school in South Africa.

    There is too much to tell about the Lehmans, especially Mrs Lehman, so I'll talk about them another time.

    As I said before, there is more that I could say about that picture but that's enough for now. It's amazing how many memories it triggers especially since it was taken so long ago. I'm quite sure that much more recent pictures will not trigger nearly as many memories.


    Blogger portuguesa nova said...

    Oh my God--what a childhood!!

    2:49 am  

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