Four years ago when we moved to Johannesburg, all we had was enthusiasm in our hearts and belongings in two big boxes. We had no family here and neither did we have friends who we could call family. Slowly, but surely we were getting used to calling Jo’burg our new home.
For a very long time I didn’t know what to say when someone asked me, ‘How’s it?’ I often waited for them to complete their sentence or to mention what ‘it’ meant. It was awkward.
It took me a while to understand that when someone says, ‘I’ll see you now’, she meant, ‘I will see you in the next ten minutes or in ten days or in ten years or possibly never’.
I once waited in the office corridor for almost twenty minutes when a colleague excitedly mentioned those words to me. I learnt the new meaning of ‘now’.
Traffic lights became robots.
Names of places took me months to pronounce. Hartbeespoort took me six months to get it right and I am still struggling with Viljoenskroon.
J became Y when pronounced. And G became Kh.
The easiest way for me to remember the pronunciation of ‘Baie Dankie’, ‘thank you’ in Afrikaans was by simply saying ‘buy a donkey’.
And yes, I thought Timbuktu didn’t really exist until I discovered it on the map of Africa.
I believe it’s not the places or the names that make any country special, it’s the people.
And when people welcome you into their hearts with open arms nothing else really matters.
An opportunity to work as a writer at TBWA/Hunt/Lascaris introduced me to strangers who have now become my friends for life.
And a casual trip to a temple in Jo’burg gave us friends that we call family now.
Four years later, we are leaving Jo’burg with a heavy heart and ten boxes of precious memories. We are heading for an yet another adventure to a new country, which we will call home for the next few years.
But Jo’burg will always have the biggest piece in our hearts because this is where the most precious relationship was born. Here, we were promoted to parenthood, which makes this city extra special.
We will miss you Jo’burg and every unusual thing about you.
Miriam Andey once rightly said, that you will never really be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. And that is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.
Thank you Jo’burg for loving us back.
Thank you for being so awesome.