What a week of excited stress! How is it that there are times of great elation mixed with times of anxiety, so that one’s face does not know whether to smile or frown, laugh or cry – such paradox.
The full-circle I am referring to is not dissimilar to that wonderful song from the Lion King, “The Circle of Life”, Most of us know the tune, and I venture that some of us have begun to hum, now that I mention it?! It is all related in that life is cyclical, so too many of our decisions and paths that bring us back to where they began.
In my case, the first of my young adult occupations was that of a nurse. I went to university to study a degree in nursing science. Whilst I did not complete the full five year course, I gained an infinte knowledge of the calling of nursing. Wrapped up in anatomy & physiology, pathology and practical techniques, so too the psychology of the human mind. I found the nuts and bolts of nursing intriguing, practical and functional, I even more thoroughly enjoyed the study of psychology as an insight into the wonders of our human psyche.
That first tertiary education encounter with nursing has woven a thread throughout my life, in some form or another, not least being the role of a mother. Without the knowledge that I gained in that short period of training, I sometimes wonder how I would have managed raising our two daughters? Before and after the birth of our children, I found myself involved in nursing in other areas of society, that of a general practioner’s surgery nurse and then also as a primary health nurse in one of the many squatter camps in South Africa. This latter post was likely to have been the most diverse, enlightening and challenging of all as we, a small team of three nursing volunteers, were faced with diseases and maladies of every kind, amongst the poorest of the poor of any society. Armed with a few medicines, some sound advice and more prayer than anything else, we took on conditions that most retired general practioners in a family practice would not have seen in their life time. Such is the case of primary health care in rural South Africa.
Here I am today, living a continent and hemisphere away from my home country, where I am back to the role of nursing. This time in the capacity of a home based carer for the elderly and infirm. Thanks to my dear friend and now colleague, I am not only gainfully employed but also have the opportunity to meet with and enjoy the company of the older generation of charming people whom have the clarity of times gone by, if not of recent events.
I now have a small stake in this adopted country since I took myself, somewhat nervously, to the Kamer Van Koophandle (KVK) in Amsterdam and signed up as a sole propriotor. I am proudly invested in The Kingdom of The Netherlands as a business owner, under the name “SallyCares4U” trading as “SallyCares”!
The other exciting event of my week has been a little more stressful in that it involved an exam, something that I have not undertaken for nearly 30 years (apart from my more recent qualification as a subtitler)
Throwback to the dark old days of the South African apartheid era, I recall a movie titled “Katrina”. This movie, set in 1969 when the ideology of apartheid was firmly entrenched in the hearts and minds of South Africans, had a profound effect on my young self. In particular, the one line delivered by Katrina’s brother, which goes something like this: “You will never fit in. You will never belong to either group.” In this instance, he was referring to the fact that his sister was “too light” to be black and “too dark” to be white, meaning that she would belong nowhere.
As tragic as this scenario is to all of us today, it now has something of a different meaning to me, an imigrant in a foreign country: I am African by birth, British by ancestory and European by marriage, but belong no where.
Before you feel that I am mining for sympathy as a “poor empovrished African refugee”, let me explain the link to the somewhat stressful exam: I have finally begun the “inburgering” process in order to become a citizen of The Kingdom of The Netherlands and a member of the European Union, this after four years of residing in the province of North Holland. I have one more year of residency, at least four more exams and quite a few Euros to go, until I am successfully able to claim a stake in the European community but, the first step has been taken!
As “displaced” as Katrina felt in the South African movie of the time, so too many colonial offspring around the globe today. I am certain that many current South African politicians would be cheering and clapping to read these lines, knowing that the colonial powers of the past must now feel the powerlessness of the colonised people as, many generations later, we cirlce back to our roots and try to make a new home for ourselves, far removed from the land of our birth, and blood of our forefathers. This could become a political battleground of debate and one which I have no desire to entre into, other than to say that, after all these years of “displacement”, I feel at home in Europe and look forward to the day when I am legally a citizen of The Netherlands.
The final overlapping circle of my own life comes from my dear Dad and my maternal grandmother. Gran was first generation born in South Africa, to British parents, who moved as pioneer farmers to Australia, where she grew up. At the outbreak of the Second World War, she trained as a nurse and returned to South Africa to tend to the troops, where she met my grandfather. Dad was third generation South African who never left the shores of the continent, despite a great desire to travel the globe. I am the product of the subsequent generations of nurses and wanderes of the world, a grateful citizen of the universe.