It Happened So ...
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Friday, I was sleeping in late because Oom Jakob had
really tired me out with the trip around the farm; but my sleep was disturbed
by the arrival of a big lorry laden with all sorts of things. I got up and had
a quick pee and wash and then got dressed and went outside to see what was
There was a fair bit of calling out and shouting between workers and above it all was the sound of Oom Jakob's booming voice giving out orders as he organised the whole thing that was going on. At first it looked like there was a lot of confusion but then things began to take shape and I realised that there was a big marquee being erected and a couple of smaller tents going up nearby the big one.
Just as they were finishing putting the tents up, another covered van arrived and a person who looked to be more in charge got out. When he saw how far the workers had got with the tents he seemed very pleased and began to get some of them taking tables and chairs off the big lorry and carrying them into the tents. Then they began to take cooking stuff and table cloths out of the covered van and carried them into the different tents.
Oom Jakob came up to me and put his arm around me. "This is for the funeral tomorrow PP" he advised me and pulled me into a tighter hug as he felt my body shudder with the first sob I had shed for a day or two.
The big marquee was obviously going to be for the wake
afterwards and one of the smaller tents was the kitchen where the caterers that
had been hired would prepare everything. The other smaller tent had a roof and
only two sides making it more of a tunnel than a tent and I wondered what that
was about but I could not bring myself to ask in case it was something I did
not want to hear. I would find out soon enough anyway.
I soon grew bored of watching people milling about and so went back inside to the kitchen to find some breakfast. Once again I had slept through the cooked breakfast, but the cook had saved some bacon for me and soon had some bread in the toaster as he made me a toasted bacon sandwich. He really did not need to do this as it interrupted his other work and would put him behind. However, he clearly wanted to do it as I had not asked him anything. I had merely walked into the kitchen and he had told me he would get something ready for me. In doing this he was taking a small risk in that he was disobeying his instructions because he had been told that if anyone was late for breakfast then they had to do it themselves and he was not to bother about it. But I think in the circumstances, ma would not have reprimanded him at all.
By lunch time the caterers and tent people had completed
all they needed to do and had taken their leave after checking with ma that
everything was to her satisfaction. With all of that out of the way, ma went to
sort out with the cook getting our lunch ready and we sat down to eat it. The dishes had only just been cleared away
when there was sound of another vehicle outside. Mom got a strange look on her
face and got up to go outside. I followed her with a mixture of emotions
boiling around inside me. There was curiosity as to what had caused the strange
look on ma's face. Curiosity as to what was happening outside
now and a fear to know the answer to my curiosity.
When we reached the front door and stepped out onto the veranda, I heard a not too unfamiliar voice, "Middag[i] Sarie, ek is baaie baaie jammer."[ii] Oom Cornelius, my father's brother greeted ma. Then seeing me in the background, he knelt down and held out his arms, "Pieter, I am sorry for your loss too. Come give me a hug."
My resistance broke and in tears I ran into his arms and felt them wrap around and envelope me in strength and comfort. Oom Cornelius also had a farm, but being the younger brother, his was not the family farm of the generations of van der Westerhuizens. Not that he had been done out. My grandfather had made sure of that by buying him a farm of equal proportions to the family farm; and Oom Cornelius was running it as well as pa had run the family farm. This work of wisdom by my grandfather had ensured that both brothers had looked on each other as equals and not opponents. Because of this, I had got to know Oom Cornelius through visits to his farm and his visits to our farm.
When I had managed to get my tears under control, I asked him where my aunt and cousins were.
"The boys are still in school and Monica is going to Pick them up this afternoon and come here with them." Oom Cornelius answered. "I just brought the horses and carriage." He finished. I had no idea what the horses and carriage were for, but again chose not to ask at this stage.
Ma called for the cook and asked him to make a pot of tea and coffee and then asked Oom Cornelius if he needed any help. Oom Cornelius said he was ok and that he would love a cup of coffee and then would get on with sorting the horses out.
While they were drinking their coffee, I went back to my room and lying down I fell asleep. Thus I was spared the sight of Oom Cornelius taking the horses out of the trailer and unhitching the carriage from the back of the horse trailer. Later when I saw him preparing to leave I wondered how he managed to control the double trailer behind his powerful Landover. Now, I know that it is not as difficult as it appeared to me back then.
My sleep was disturbed by the distant sound of wailing
and ululating and so again I got up to go and look. At first I could see
nothing, but then I saw a mass of the farm workers and their families walking
slowly along the road with the men in front and the women and children behind
and the women were making the noise. As the last of the women cleared the bend
in the road, I saw a black car driving slowly behind them. As they drew level
with the house, the people all moved to the side of the road and the car passed
by pulling up in front of the house with a second car following it drawing to
halt behind the black car. I remembered this car shape from when oupa died and
realised that it carried pa's coffin. Suddenly I was rooted to the spot and
could not move or speak. Ma had come up behind me and rested her hand on my
shoulder and I could feel her shaking. Oom Cornelius and Oom Jakob then stepped
forward and walked over to the hearse. The driver got out and they had a short
conversation which none of us could hear over the noise of the women the other
side of the road. The occupant of the second car got out and I could see that
it was the Dominee[iii]
from the Nederduitse Gerevormde Kerk[iv] resplendent in all his
regalia and trappings. He must have been very warm under all the layers his
robes and mantles consisted of.
The Dominee walked over to the hearse and spoke with Oom Cornelius and Oom Jakob and then Oom Jakob went across to the workers and spoke to a couple of the men who immediately followed Oom Jakob back to the hearse.
The undertaker in the meantime had taken two shiny silver things out of the hearse and had positioned them inside the tunnel tent. The two uncles and the two black workers then carried the coffin and placed it on the two silver trestles. The workers went back to join their fellow workers while Oom Jakob moved and took up a point at the foot of the coffin and Oom Cornelius brought the Dominee over to ma and me. Putting his arm around ma and taking my hand in his other hand he gently said just the one word, "Kom"[v] and led us back to the tent with the Dominee walking in front reciting a prayer of verses from the Bible or something like that.
When we got to the coffin, the undertaker undid some bright shiny knobs on the one end of the lid and lifted that part of the lid up. This allowed those who looked in to see pa's face. The rest of him was covered in a shiny material. Apart from being very pale, he looked just like he was asleep except that his mouth was closed and all the times I remember seeing pa sleeping, mainly in the chair in the lounge, his mouth was always open. Ma said it was because he was catching flies.
Ma started to weep and this set me off also because I knew that this was the last time we would ever see pa. The Dominee said some words to ma, but I am not sure that I even really heard them let alone remember them and Oom Cornelius again helped us to move away. Once he had got us back onto the Veranda and sitting down, he went back and stood at the head of the coffin just as Oom Jakob was doing at the other end. I saw Oom Cornelius give a nod of his head, and the senior charge hand moved forward with the rest of the men following slowly behind. The senior charge hand and his second in command who had been the ones that helped to carry the coffin were first and they split and went either side of the coffin stopping for just a very brief moment to look at pa's face and then moving on. The rest of the workforce followed behind these two and then their families joined in two lines behind them. At least the women had stopped their wailing and noise to do this. There was no talking at all as this whole viewing was done in total silence and as each person left the tent they came past the veranda and still in silence turned to look at ma and hold their hands up as if in prayer and then turn back and walk away, returning to the compound to begin preparing the evening meal. The Dominee who had stayed with ma and me also kept the silence until the last of the people had gone past. Then he quietly got up and went back to the coffin and said a prayer or something as the undertaker closed the lid once more. Only then did Oom Cornelius and Oom Jakob leave their posts and come and join us with the Dominee on the veranda for some tea. When Phineas came out with the tea, he placed the tray on the table and then knelt on the floor and thanked ma for allowing them to say good bye to pa. He got straight up without waiting for a reply and went back to the kitchen where he was cooking the evening meal for all of us as Oom Cornelius and Oom Jakob would be there as well as Tannie Monica and my two cousins, Jan and Hendrik. The Du Preez family would only be arriving with Willem early on Saturday morning as they had had to make a change in their plans. When he had finished his tea, the Dominee left promising to be with us again the next day.
I was getting kind of bored with the conversation of the
three adults and was just about to excuse myself when our time was disturbed by
a cough. Turning Oom Jakob saw the charge hand at the edge of the veranda.
"Ja, what is it?" he asked.
"If Nkosikas[vi] will allow we would like to guard the baass[vii] tonight." The charge hand said. What he had asked for was permission for the workers to mount a vigil through the night beside pa's coffin. This was a huge sign of respect usually reserved for the chief of the tribe.
"Thank you Dingaan, I will be honoured." Ma graciously agreed to their wish.
"Thank you nkosikas." Dingaan replied and then he walked away.
Minutes later there was a group of four of the work force and they squatted down with two at either end of the tent. Before we went in to supper there were about ten men all squatting on the ground and talking quietly amongst themselves. Later on I was looking out of my bedroom window and saw a couple of men walk up and take over from some of the others who got up and went off in the direction of the compound.
When tannie Monica arrived she gave me a big hug and told me to be strong like all the van der Westerhuizen men were; telling me in an oblique way that she thought my pa had been a strong man. And I guess he was. Maybe he would not have been a contender for the Iron Man contest, but he was no weakling in physical strength either. He was also strong in character and morals and this is what had lead to him being held in such high regard by his work force. Something that was generally unheard of amongst the farming community, largely because of the way the white farmers treated their labourers in those days of apartheid.
After dinner, ma suggested that I take Jan and Hendrik
and help them to make up some beds in my room as they were going to have to
share with me as the other room was being taken up by Oom Cornelius and tannie
When we got to my room I suggested that they could share my bed if they wanted and I would sleep on the floor, but they refused and said they would both sleep on the floor. I got out a couple of sleeping bags for them while they each blew up an airbed. We did not have an electric pump at that time and so they had to use the foot pump and believe me legs get tired doing that pump enough times to fill the mattress with sufficient air to make it usable and comfortable. Once the beds were ready I went and found them a towel each so that they could take a shower when they were ready to do so and then we sat down on the bed and talked.
"Pieter, it is going to be hard for you for a while and especially tomorrow. And none of us are going to think you are weak if you cry sometimes, so let it out when you need to." Jan, my sixteen year old cousin told me with some wisdom that he had gained when one of his class mates had lost a mother to cancer.
"Ja, and your pa was a very special man to us also being pa's brother and we are very sad about all this so know how much more it must be for you." Hendrik shared. Hendrik was fourteen and had not had the same experience as his brother, but he knew he needed to be sympathetic and gentle.
Of course their sympathy reduced me to tears once more and the two of them sat either side of me and just hugged me until I calmed down again.
"Thank you guys." I managed to say eventually and the two of them said I was not to worry about it at all.
The conversation changed and I asked them what their school was like because I knew it was a different one to Willie's, and this gave us something to talk about that was kind of neutral. Of course a lot of what they said was new to me and I found it difficult to grasp as I had had only one teacher that taught me every subject every year and it all took place in the one classroom so the concept of each subject having a different teacher in a different classroom and the pupils moving from room to room was totally foreign to me.
We went back to the lounge where ma, Oom Cornelius and
Tannie Monica were talking together. Oom Jakobus had gone home. As we walked
into the lounge, the three adults stopped talking and as we were not talking it
was silent and then we heard it. There was a low pitched chanting going on. Oom
Cornelius got up and went out onto the veranda to see what it was.
He came back in and said, "It is the honour guard with Kristian. They are singing to keep the bad spirits away."
"Well so long as they keep the volume down it will be ok with me." ma said which left the rest of us without any real say in the matter. Not that it bothered me either.
We all talked for a little while more when ma said that us boys should start to get our baths in as there were six of us to bath altogether and that could take some time.
"Tannie, we can shower together to save the time. We don't mind and I am sure Pieter won't mind coming in with us also." Jan said to ma.
"Ok. If your parents don't mind, I don't." Ma said, and both Oom Cornelius and Tannie Monica concurred.
So the three of us got up and went back to my room to get what we needed. In the room, Jan and Hendrik began undressing and clearly were not shy of being seen in front of each other or me. I did not know then that I should be shy to be seen by them, as they were older than me and had more development than me and so I also stripped off. The two teens wrapped their towels around their wastes and were ready to set off to the bathroom. I did not have a towel in my room so I pulled on a pair of sleeping shorts and walked with Jan and Hendrik down the passage to the bathroom. As soon as the bathroom door had closed, the two brothers took their towels off and stood there in front of me completely naked.
I had not had the chance to really look at them while we were in the room because I was also undressing and my concentration had been on that task. Now I did have the chance and liked what I saw. Jan being the oldest had a man sized cock which hung centrally over his two low hanging balls with his left one being a tad lower than the right. His foreskin was long enough to cover a bulbous head and pucker up at the eye but not hang past the head. His cock was about the thickness of my wrist and must have been all of five inches long in its current flaccid state. All of this nestled in a mass of dark hair that clearly was not trimmed or groomed in any way. Hendrik on the other hand being only fourteen and not as far along with puberty had a slightly shorter and thinner cock but his foreskin was a bit longer and formed a short nipple at the end of his cock making it look a bit like a teat on a baby's bottle. His balls also hung low but they were not as big as his brother's. His pubic hair was of a lighter shade and not nearly as dense as Jan's was. It also looked like it was trimmed a bit to make it even in length. I quickly shucked my sleeping shorts and stood proudly in front of them so that they could see me also.
Jan got the shower going and stepped in and I followed close behind. Hendrik then stepped in also and commented that he was glad it was big enough to fit all three of us. Without thinking I grabbed the soap and began to wash Hendrik's body for him. He flinched away at first but then stood still and let me continue. I started at his shoulders which was as high as I could reach and then moved down his back to his bum. I made sure his crack was clean before moving on down his legs and asked him to turn around. I did the front of his legs and then simply moved straight in to wash his cock which boned up as soon as I touched it. This of course got my cock boned up and I noticed that Jan was chubbing as well. I jerked his cock a little bit while washing it as I had to get his foreskin back to clean under it and then I went on up and washed his chest and pert little nipples. After that I turned and began doing the same to Jan and when I got to his cock it was already hard and had a bead of pre-cum on it which disappeared under my soapy palm. I finished his front and then did his back making sure once again that his crack was properly clean as well. When I had finished they both began to wash me and when they got to doing my bum and cock which they did at the same time they spent a bit longer on me than I had on them and very nearly brought me to an orgasm; stopping just short of tipping me over the edge. We took turns standing directly under the shower head to get the soap properly rinsed off. While we were doing that, Jan told me that I should not do that to other guys when I go to boarding school as they would make my life unbearable for me if I did.
Our showers finished, I put my shorts on and the two others wrapped their damp towels around their wastes again and we went back to the lounge to say good night to the adults. We assured them we had not used all the hot water and made our departure back to my room. I closed the door and as I turned around it was to see both guys take their towels off and hang them up to dry. They did not look for any sleeping shorts or anything preferring to climb into their sleeping bags naked. I decided to follow suit and took my shorts off again and climbed naked into bed as well. We said goodnight to each other and then Jan reached up and switched my light off. The next thing I knew it was Saturday morning and I had some chores to do.
[i] Middag – literally mid day, but used as a greeting such as "Good Afternoon"
[ii] Afrikaans for "I am very very sorry"
[iii] Dominee – Priest of the Dutch Reformed Church
[iv] Nederduitse Gerevormde Kerk – Dutch Reformed Church.
[v] Kom - Come
[vi] Nkosikas – literally "Queen" but a respectful way of referring to the boss' wife.
[vii] Baass – Same as boss. A respectful way of addressing your employer.