Christmas in Scotland and I meet the Englishwomen, who lived some time in South Africa, and she speaks of a woman important in her life, some time ago. They lost touch. I listen, half heartedly for I know not the woman of whom she speaks and forget about it. Will recall someday as I realise this woman is important, spent time with the Englishwoman. Scotland is far away, the flurry of snow and Christmas dinner a kind memory.
The Englishwoman takes a boat to South Africa to escape the winter. I escape the winter and we arrange to meet. The Company Gardens for a Saturday lunch.
We met in coats and gloves prior. We meet in slip slops today. We marvel at skin shared and a touch of sun on it.
The conversation piece is cordial, who did what, who went where and it is my turn.
Yesterday I travelled to Riebeek Kasteel. Englishwoman was in Prince Albert. I tell her about the chancer ‘car guard’ who wanted twenty rand, then ten and was willing to settle for five. He smiled at authority arriving and said ‘Only took a chance missus’ and moved on. She tells me about her sense of ‘home’ in the inner city and I am humbled by my cautionary attitude and her knowing more about the city for exploring without fear.
‘Anyway.’ I say. ‘Went to this little town following a story of a women who makes a living from distilling essences, in particular Frankincense, of which I know little and am fascinated. My knowledge is limited to the Bible and the Three Kings. Who would have thought it comes from a tree? I thought it was a magical something from somewhere. Essence woman is so giving, she talks and takes me around her life and I am intrigued by life story, life work and living in a town so small, the wind wisks once and is done. Life is small and small is all.
I mention her name. Englishwoman pauses, sits back and crosses her arms over her chest.
‘It cannot be!’ She says. ‘It is!’ she says. ‘I have been looking for Essence woman for years.’ she says. Essence lady is the one of whom she spoke, back in Scotland, lost through time but always a hankering to know what had happened to her.
Recognition. Loveliness of place and smallness of world comes together in a simple conversation. A chance meeting results in a long search and a common re-uniting of friends.
Who would have thought?
The world is small, and we, unknowingly are sometimes the link in a casual conversation.
I did good today. I learnt today, my chance encounter resulted in a meeting up of old friends. And that is what is is all about.