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Robert Berold

My Bakkie

My Bakkie

My Bakkie

1984 was a big year for me. Wally and I started the Power
Station, I went to fetch Max as a puppy from Bennie
Strydom’s farm, my first book was published, and I bought
my bakkie. My own brand new Toyota Hilux 2.0 long-
wheelbase smooth-running bakkie costing R10 000, its
strange canopy with square bumps like a medieval castle.

I drove it every day from Cross Street to the Power Station,
drove it to Joburg on our first sales trip selling wooden
toys, drove it to Cape Town, to Durban, to the Kruger Park
to sell crafts to the buyer in Skukuza, to Joburg again
many times, to the township hundreds of times. I lent it to
people I trusted and people I didn’t trust, people with and
without drivers’ licences.

I drove with tears in my eyes, Max by my side, camping
in the bakkie with Patricia at Dwesa, watching the eland
on the beach, knowing glumly that this was the end of us
together. A month later my bakkie was crashed into by a
police van in George Street while Patricia was moving her
stuff. The passenger door was stoved in almost up to the
gear lever. I had to drive it with no windscreen to Pretoria
to have its body straightened out at the Toyota factory in
Silverton.

I let the guys on the farm drive it. One day they dared
Nceba, the youngest, to drive while it was loaded full of
stones, and he overturned it. The roof had to be pushed
back into shape by Alfredo the panelbeater with a
hydraulic jack. I got my VW beetle, Max died, my bakkie
started losing power on the hills. I demoted it to farm work
only.

A few years later while I was far away, in another country,
Nceba convinced Johann that his pregnant wife was
unable to walk up the hill, and Johann lent him my bakkie.
Nceba crashed into a cow or a tree depending on whose
story you believe. The bonnet was completely buckled. I
had to decide whether to scrap the bakkie or to repair it
properly, and I had it repaired, using the money from the
UN job. It was promoted back to being my own. I didn’t
lend it to anyone anymore.

One summer evening I came back with the groceries and
parked on the slope outside my house. As I switched on
the kettle I saw my bakkie rolling down the hill. I shouted
to it “Hey! Where the fuck you going?” but it didn’t listen,
just carried on rolling over the veld, demolishing a fence
post, crashing slowly into one of the big logs anchoring the
nursery.

On the fourth day of the Grahamstown Festival, July 2003,
on the way home to the farm, the clock turned over
300 000 km. I stopped right there. It was just me and my
bakkie, the sunset and the dust road.
Robert Berold

Robert Berold

(Zuid-Afrika, 1948)

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My Bakkie

1984 was a big year for me. Wally and I started the Power
Station, I went to fetch Max as a puppy from Bennie
Strydom’s farm, my first book was published, and I bought
my bakkie. My own brand new Toyota Hilux 2.0 long-
wheelbase smooth-running bakkie costing R10 000, its
strange canopy with square bumps like a medieval castle.

I drove it every day from Cross Street to the Power Station,
drove it to Joburg on our first sales trip selling wooden
toys, drove it to Cape Town, to Durban, to the Kruger Park
to sell crafts to the buyer in Skukuza, to Joburg again
many times, to the township hundreds of times. I lent it to
people I trusted and people I didn’t trust, people with and
without drivers’ licences.

I drove with tears in my eyes, Max by my side, camping
in the bakkie with Patricia at Dwesa, watching the eland
on the beach, knowing glumly that this was the end of us
together. A month later my bakkie was crashed into by a
police van in George Street while Patricia was moving her
stuff. The passenger door was stoved in almost up to the
gear lever. I had to drive it with no windscreen to Pretoria
to have its body straightened out at the Toyota factory in
Silverton.

I let the guys on the farm drive it. One day they dared
Nceba, the youngest, to drive while it was loaded full of
stones, and he overturned it. The roof had to be pushed
back into shape by Alfredo the panelbeater with a
hydraulic jack. I got my VW beetle, Max died, my bakkie
started losing power on the hills. I demoted it to farm work
only.

A few years later while I was far away, in another country,
Nceba convinced Johann that his pregnant wife was
unable to walk up the hill, and Johann lent him my bakkie.
Nceba crashed into a cow or a tree depending on whose
story you believe. The bonnet was completely buckled. I
had to decide whether to scrap the bakkie or to repair it
properly, and I had it repaired, using the money from the
UN job. It was promoted back to being my own. I didn’t
lend it to anyone anymore.

One summer evening I came back with the groceries and
parked on the slope outside my house. As I switched on
the kettle I saw my bakkie rolling down the hill. I shouted
to it “Hey! Where the fuck you going?” but it didn’t listen,
just carried on rolling over the veld, demolishing a fence
post, crashing slowly into one of the big logs anchoring the
nursery.

On the fourth day of the Grahamstown Festival, July 2003,
on the way home to the farm, the clock turned over
300 000 km. I stopped right there. It was just me and my
bakkie, the sunset and the dust road.

My Bakkie

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