“However you disguise it, this thing does not change: / The perpetual struggle of Good and Evil.”
According to Dean Koontz, these are the words of T.S. Elliott.
He quotes it in relation to Odd Thoms’ latest epic adventure.
I claim it, for myself, as I consider the day’s experiences, making sense, or trying too, of the nagging feeling with which I came away from a little village on the banks of the Breede River.
We’re lounging on the couch, late afternoon, back at Stonehill River Lodge, after a full day.
The kids are playing outside.
Little Maddi is at our feet with a selection of pots & spoons.
I wonder if she is emulating Zuko’s prowess in the kitchen or just mindlessly clanging?
Zuko & I are enjoying a cup of Masterton’s.
Our Kindles the doorway to vivid adventures we can pause whenever we need or page over, should they be mundane.
” … and evil is not always that recognizeable, oft disguised as the good it doth despise … ”
The words echo in my being, as I digest the Odd adventures conjured by Koontz, mixed with my own.
Breakfast was a festive affair.
Everyone excited to make the journey to Malagas where we would cross the Breede River by Ferry.
Crossing a river by ferry is not so much a fireworks & orchestra playing the soundtrack of ‘ Chariots of Fire’ kind of occasion.
Although there is something stomach churning about driving a R500 000 vehicle onto a float, running the risk, even if ever so small, of having it float away into the Atlantic Ocean, or sinking to the shallow bottom of a once often traversed river.
Malagas, it seems, was once a busy little harbour town.
A place from which farmers & traders moved goods between the Overberg and Cape Town.
‘Barry & Neefs’ making a decent living, while providing a much needed service.
Perhaps the 1800’s were a simpler time.
The Chrysler Grand Voyager, kindly sponsored to us by Maritime Motors, impressed with its comfort & road holding on the 40 kilometre drive through yellow canola fields.
The video screens & sound system silent, as we watch a crop duster flying low, a mist at its tail.
Once across the river, we drive through the little town, now predominantly populated by holiday makers who enjoy boating & water sports.
The old stone Dutch Reformed Church & the white washed trading store the only reminders, alongside the ferry, that any kind of history is hidden here.
The Church is locked.
The bell’s ring silent, until my children boldly call the good to come and worship to no avail.
We lunch at the Malagas Hotel.
A pleasant enough lunch.
A kind waitress.
The owners somewhat aloof.
As we pay our bill they reluctantly divulge the little bit of information that they’ve lived here sixteen years, building the hotel from a guest house into the many roomed accomodation it now offers, with house boats for rent & green lawns for children to enjoy.
At the trading store we encounter a more talkative resident.
The ‘Tannie’ (older lady) eager to share conversation.
The businesses has been in her husband’s family for more than one hundred years.
They’ve been living here, selling goods, for almost three decades.
She speaks of how life has changed.
How businesses has slowed.
Of the young ones leaving for Cape Town.
The old ones stuck with memories & they’re own sad conversation.
Theunsie & Wilhelmina buy sweets.
Zuko gets some milk & cheese & cooldrink from the fridge, while Sophia & Forest study a display of old cameras.
When Malagas was settled a camera was a rare commodity.
Theunsie takes pictures of a display of old cigarette boxes with his mobile phone, then WhatssApss it to the group of friends he created before we left Nelsin Mandela Bay.
Replenished we point the Chrysler Grand Voyager towards Infanta.
Sophia wants to know if that is where they make Fanta.
At the end of the road we find a deserted holiday village, where the Breede River runs into the ocean.
Some homes are new & oppulent.
Some old & dilapidated.
Population 56, says the website on Zuko’s tablet.
They must all be in town for the day, I think to myself, as we pose for picture at the entrance to this village, before we head back home.
At Malagas we cross the river by ferry again.
And now we read.
“However you disguise it, this thing does not change: / The perpetual struggle of Good and Evil” … and evil is not always that recognizeable, oft disguised as the good it doth despise . . .
Images of ‘Barry & Neefs’ loading cargo, of that old Tannie’s in-laws one hundred years ago, perfectly dressed on Sunday, to worship at the stone Church, shabby in blue overalls on Monday, to make their living, the children at the school we could not find – they play vividly in my imagination.
A ferry relentlessly moving people & cargo & carriage from one side of the Breede River to the other.
I wonder, do we even consider, as Elliot & Koontz do, the strughle of good & evil, as we make our way from one generation to the next?
Do we question our motivation?
Or is it simple?
A bit of money earned.
A bit of respite enjoyed.
A bit of bitterness in our age, before we pass it on.
So that our children may prevail.
A few old buildings.
A few stacked shelves.
A display of neatly preserved cigarette boxes our reminder.
Perhaps it is.
But as I sit here with my Zuko, the sound of children emerging into their own adulthood outside, little Maddi unaware, clanging at pots & pans with mass produced utensils, I hope it could be more.
More than just a bit of prevailing.
At least for us.
I hope our lives could spill some meaning.
Beyond a living earned or the bitterness of age.
Perhaps relationship could be our building.
Connection our trading store.
Perhaps we are constructing.
Even as we live.