Footprints in Concrete is a Christian based South African short story of a young boy and his mother in the apartheid era, who turned to crime due to his circumstances and pain.
Books by Val Hamann on obooko:
I grew up in Transkei. When I was five my Magogo died and I had to live with my mother in the Old Transvaal where white people were kings and black people were slaves. My mother Grace was a servant and worked for the van Tonder family for twelve years. She would clean, cook, iron and babysit for them. My mother was not allowed to have her husband live with her in the backroom, so my father only visited her once a month. They were originally from the Transkei. On one of the odd occasions they saw each other, they managed to have s*x in a toilet at a train station, there were no security men on guard on that quiet Sunday afternoon.
The train stopped at the station and as my father broke away from kissing my mother one last time, he hopped onto the train as it got in motion, only to have his sleeve cuff get trapped. It gripped him as if he weighed only 100grams while it pulled him out of the train coach and slapped him against the outside of the door. He was screaming and unable to free himself and as the oncoming train approached he was unable to find anything to hold onto. The impact of the oncoming train hit him so hard that the sleeve ripped loose as gravity pulled him down under the train.
In an instant he was mangled into minced meat, my mother screamed and collapsed.
Day after day she relived that moment and found herself delving deeper and deeper into depression.
The Madam of the house noticed that my mother was in a trance a lot of the time, there was no counselling centres available those days. My mother cried herself to sleep every night and worked like a robot during the day. The Madam was getting tired of my mother’s sullen face and constant vomiting.
Madam: It’s been a week already Grace! You can’t go on forever walking around depressed. It’s not good for the Madam’s children to see you like this. You need to snap out of it and start paying attention to your work. You didn’t dust the television off properly yesterday and the Baas Koos was very upset. We don’t want to take R3.00 off your wages, so please, let this be the last time I talk to you Grace.
Grace: Yes Madam. I’m sorry Madam. Madam, I need time off to go to the funeral. I need to go home to Transkei, we need to kill a cow and meet with the elders to discuss his brother to marry me, because I am alone now.
Madam: Good grief Grace! It has only been one week! You can’t marry someone else so quick!
Grace: Please Madam, I need to go for seven days to Transkei. I am leaving tomorrow morning.
Madam: I suppose I can’t stop you, but I am only giving you five days. If you not back in five days I will find someone else to do this job. You only need a few hours to bury your husband, there isn’t even a body to bury, so why do you want to take seven days? No! I am not accepting this. I will talk to Baas Koos tonight and see what he says.
Grace: Yes Madam, thank you Madam.
My mother ran to her room outside where she grabbed a bucket to start vomiting again. She thought it was her nerves and the memory of my father being minced on the tracks. But little did she know at that stage, it was me, nestled secretly and warmly in her womb, waiting for my feet to form, so I could show her my dreams of becoming a runner.
The Madam was looking at her through the kitchen window, just shaking her head.