I will belong. Armed with my Rooibos and an Ouma, I will.

I will belong. Armed with my Rooibos and an Ouma, I will.

A Country Brew
THIS morning I was given the middle finger by a little grey-haired lady driving a Nissan Micra who had mistakenly read my flashing lights letting her pull into the gap in front of me, as something else.

I must hand it to her – She couldn’t have been a year younger than 80, could barely see over the dashboard, but there it was, sure enough, this little wrinkly hand that slowly reached up to the rear-view mirror with her middle finger outstretched, all the while scowling back at me.

I just smiled, and waved. As one does.

The pleasure of living in the countryside brings a wealth of amusing anecdotes that daily remind me that we all share a common humanity and need to feel accepted and respected. And the Micra-Driving-Old-Gal was no different.

Not too long ago in our village, I’d heard that our neighbour across the road had passed away and once the dust had settled, I decided to venture over to pay my respects to her children who were busy clearing out her home. I’d hardly spoken my first few words, and was rebuffed with a slight nose-turned-upwards, “Oh, we’d heard there was a Polish lady living in our street”. I didn’t have a chance to finish my sentence, but smiled, wished them well and calmly walked back home, as they continued to load the Welsh Dresser into the back of their Land Rover Discovery.

Pondering these interchanges, while sucking the Rooibos tea from my dunked Ouma rusk, it puzzles me. I want to understand why I find myself slightly ebbed at being referred to as an immigrant (because, technically, I am). But it’s the tone… immigrant. The “come-to-take-our-jobs” immigrant. The “living-on-benefits-while-I-foot-the-bill” immigrant. That awkward silence that falls on conversation when someone makes an immigrant-based comment and then realises that you’re sitting in the room.

I start to think about the tiny one-horse-dorpie in the middle of a well-known, much-visited wine route in the Western Cape where Mom and Dad live. I think about the English-Afrikaans language barrier and I think about the “other side of town” that nobody really speaks about, or visits, except out of necessity. And I realise that this little interchange is no different. As foreign as I feel, it becomes clear to me that any little town, which has an intense focus on its local community, where everyone knows everyone (and subsequently everyone else’s business), is the same – regardless of where you travel to, or live. I experienced the same in the little town of Yuanlin, Taiwan, where I lived for 2 years. I experienced the same in the tiniest dorpies of South Africa, and now I am discovering the same in the UK. It is, unfortunately, the trademark of a small town: a tight-knit community who likes things as it is, and may not be keen for non-members to make changes to the idyllic part of their perfect picture. I understand that. And I accept that.
But I am stubborn, and I want to belong.

So as my personal little mission continues to try and scrape through the heavy outer crust of the All Things Bright And Beautiful community, through the layers of Who-Dunnit and What’d-She-Say, hopefully (just hopefully), I’ll find that precious gem that lies beneath. That little piece of truth that Maslow called Self-Actualisation, and finally be able to plant my own roots in this little community that I am learning to call home.


About the Author

Katy Roberts administrator

Katy Roberts has over 15 years's experience in helping businesses amplify their brands, build their customer bases and engage effectively with audience communities in order to build relationship for long-term business success. Having left the corporate world and now working independently since 2015, Katy continues to help local and national businesses tell their story.

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