THE TEXT

The Life of Henry Fuckit
(1950 - 2015)

 

83   Pretty pussies in Pretoria

He was astonished at how many pretty girls there were. Passing by on a pavement, working in a bank, serving in a shop. Slim, curvaceous, healthy-looking, and with well-proportioned pleasing features. The puzzling thing was that by contrast, all women over thirty were stolid, shapeless tannies with bloated faces. Equally baffling was his observation that all the males were repulsive like these older females. From little boys in track suits and cropped hair to fat old boere with white moustaches they made him think of Nazi stereotypes - Hitler Youth and Gestapo thugs. And George Grosz caricatures - the military officers, politicians, clergy, bureaucrats and businessmen in pre-War Germany. These men wore expressions of hatred, suspicion, cruelty, debauchery, and fear; and it alarmed Henry no end. So how come all these pretty girls? This is what he asked himself. In his bewilderment he muttered 'Jesus, this is a kak plek. This is out of a nightmare. The girls give me ball-ache and the rest of them make me want to shat myself.'

He had caught a night flight to Jan Smuts and been met at the airport by a young man in Army uniform. This lance-corporal was taciturn, spoke Afrikaans only, and never once looked directly at Henry. As they entered the almost deserted streets of Pretoria and approached the city centre, he had uttered one of his longest statements: 'Fokken donnerse kaffer.' This was after attempting to run over a black man crossing the road.

The Voortrekker was a three star hotel overlooking Strydom Square. When he went down to breakfast in he morning, there had been a message at Reception/Ontvangs for him to phone Harry Bergson.

'Bit of a change of plan, Henry, I'm afraid. Your colleagues have arrived in Cape Town.'

'But I thought…'

'Yes, I know. You were all supposed to receive training in the operation of Mother Superior. And at the same time get acquainted with each other. But these are extremely intelligent and sensitive individuals who have never been in South Africa before. After one day in Pretoria they said it would be impossible to work in such a climate. 'Depraved,' 'degenerate,' 'brutish,' 'subhuman' are some of the words they're using. It's my mistake, I can see that now. I should have realised. It's too much of a shock, too much an affront to such finely tuned minds and sensibilities.'

Now, three days later after intensive tuition from a pair of singularly dour electronics technicians, a communications expert, and a computer boffin, all of the military variety, he was eager to be gone from this hellish town too. It was late afternoon and he was killing a couple of hours before being taken to the airport. Strolling along the pavement he realised he was being caught up in the five o'clock stampede for homeward bound transport. He must be approaching the station. Better head back towards the hotel, have a few dops in the bar.

He was moving against the stream now and was aware that it was almost entirely black. Well, this made a change from the predominantly white assortment of faces he had been encountering in the CBD. Here were the workers, the downtrodden proletariat, scurrying back and forth every day, bleating in pain. These were the underdogs, abused by their white masters, nobly bearing the cruelties of …. Nobly? Jesus, there was nothing noble about the sour odour assaulting his nostrils. This was the mephitic smell of toil, the stink of unwashed humans, the stench of poverty. And the faces! In vain he searched for signs of dignity and strength. Hardship was supposed to put iron in the soul, blah, blah, blah. The uplifting effect of suffering was entirely absent from these faces. Especially the younger men. They were just as terrifying as their white counterparts, exhibiting the same dehumanized savagery. One was quite as vicious as the other. Maybe the whites were more bigoted, more sadistic; the blacks more rampant, more bloodthirsty. Either way he was appalled by the ugliness of what he was seeing. No wonder his colleagues had been unable to bear the place for more than twenty-four hours.

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