The events of the period between our arrival at Luitingh’s Guest Farm and the building of the new farmhouse are a dubitable muddle, but at least one clear event marks the transition for me. Shortly after we had moved into the new house, at a time when everything still smelt excitingly of paint, Lesley took me to a paved area under a pergola of bougainvillea outside her bedroom window one afternoon. There she told me that she and Jack were divorced and that she was going to marry Anton. My guess is that I was eight or nine years old.

If her later attempt to communicate the facts of life to me was a flop, this particular communication of facts thoroughly surprised and disturbed me. I can only guess why an intelligent nine-year-old had not already worked it out – Raymond, at thirteen, certainly had. Throughout that period, I now fancy, I had entertained a hope that my parents would somehow re-unite, and that together, we could return to the unimaginably perfect past. Her communication swiftly cut the throat of this particular nostalgia.


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