(The Little Pink Jar)
“tjie” is a suffix used for almost anything under the sun in my mother tongue.
That would be Afrikaans, spoken in South Africa by some.
Bietjie – a little.
Soetjies – quietly.
Vroutjie – affection.
Hondjie – puppy or small dog.
Katjie – kitten or small cat.
Potjie – small jar or saucepan.
When added to a name, it indicates affection.
Confusing, I know.
Her name probably was Maria but to all of she was known as Marietjie.
She was tall, gangly, with a boyish figure that I envied and a haircut that rivalled mine in length. That is, the hairdresser had to push her fingers through our hair, palm of her hand touching our scalp, and anything that showed above her fingers had to come off.
Short. As in super short.
We were in our early thirties.
Me in a “sort of marriage.” Marietjie, divorced with a young child.
She introduced me to the “pienk potjie.” Cuticle cream it was. A well-known brand in an unpretentious little jar.
Many years later I sat massaging my cuticles. Aging nails have ridges. Split easily. The cream helps. I thought back on those days.
The little jar now is white; the manufacturer has changed;
The memories flooded in.
I was back in Pretoria in 1980.
The bottle of wine that broke at the neck as we opened it. Late on a Saturday night. It was out last bottle of wine.
We duly siphoned it through a kitchen towel and drank it.
The dog that got sick, once again on a Saturday night. The rush to get to an emergency vet in a thunder storm. You were driving. The rain coming down so hard you opened your window and stuck out your head to better see the white lines.
We arrived, drenched.
The vet took one look you. Soaking wet and with clothes clinging in all the right places. The man couldn’t help himself and made a pass at you!
I stood holding a sick dog!
He didn’t charge me.
The Monday morning, we stopped during rush hour to help an injured dog lying in the road. The car in front of us had hit the dog and just continued. Your daughter had to sit on your lap as I placed a smelly, injured Basset on the back seat of my tiny Beetle.
The list is endless. Weekends spent together. Sometimes just us. Sometimes your daughter as well. Your mother was still alive and would take care of the little one when asked.
“Poppedyntjie,” you would call your little daughter. There it was again. The diminutive “tjie” indicating affection.
Many years later I would use it for my daughter as well.
You were a friend I deeply cared for.
I got divorced.
Our friendship held.
You were one of two friends present.
You continued to be part of my new life. My new reality.
I left the country.
Called when I came back for a visit.
Anxious to hear your voice.
I invited you to visit us in the home we still had in South Africa.
You were reticent.
I didn’t understand and persisted.
Until you made it clear you wanted to sever contact.
I was hurt. So terribly hurt.
I didn’t understand.
I still don’t.
Many years later a friend met up with your now grown-up daughter.
Who told him I had rejected her mother.
But that’s not how I remember it?
So, I choose to forget how it ended and every time “die pienk potjie” comes out, I remember the fun times. The good times.
We ate too much.
We drank too much.
We laughed and cried too much.
I’m grateful for the memories.
Cyber Hugs and Blessings All. May all your memories be good ones.
Photo by Daniel Xavier from Pexels