A thoughtful friend came for dinner and brought the South African movie – Tsotse – for us to watch afterward. We ate a simple soup and a fruit, and then wrapped up on respective chairs to watch this. Throughout the movie, I kept flashing back on William Kentridge’s animated films, especially while watching the extended scene of the young man walking across a no-man’s-land from the wealthy suburbs to the shantytown where he lived. He was carting an infant in a shopping bag- an infant he had to take from the car of a woman he had just held up at gunpoint and shot. What does a thug know about caring for a baby when he has no basic equipment with which to provide the most minimal care? Newspaper diapers and an opened can of evaporated milk poured into the baby’s mouth? That solution rang true to me!
I think of my daughter-in-law, with her designer nursery, the battery-powered rocker and swing for the baby, the numerous matching outfits with coordinated colours and cute sayings, the many months supply of paper and plastic diapers and toys that are battery powered and emit shakes, rolls and canned chirps. The contrast with the reality demonstrated in this movie is merely, well, obscene. It is possible to demonstrate care and concern with just the simplest of means – newspaper diapers, a pour of canned milk into the seeking mouth of a baby.
Does my daughter -in-law think about the possible uses of flying cottonwood seeds when walking by the riverbank in the early summer? Does she see a potential windfall of usefulness in this summer-snowing bounty? I think not – she has neither the imagination, nor inclination to see potential in the world that surrounds her. She cannot imagine herself as a native woman, foraging casually for this soft, cottony seed, adding it to the basket made out of her skirt, compiling it for a trove with which to make an absorbent liner for the diapers of her infant. For this young woman, everything comes from the Mall. For our new grand-daughter, this represents a further disconnect of human life from that of nature. This child will never experience the pleasure of the scent of sun dried clothes or sheets, the scent that harbours the aroma of natural cleanliness; she will always associate clean with the scent of Fleecy? Well, it is my role as grandparent to provide that experience for her.