This memory of Spring was written for Sue Vincent’s Thursday photo prompt – Spring #writephoto. You can join in by following this link: https://scvincent.com/2017/03/02/thursday-photo-prompt-spring-writephoto/
In South Africa, Spring usually arrives with a bang. One day it is cold and the next day it is hot. Sometimes it is extremely hot and it is also usually very dry as the rains don’t start until the end of October. Spring is a time when I always want to do alterations to our home. There is something about Spring, with all the trees coming into bud and the flowers appearing that makes you feel hopeful and in the mood for change. During Spring, about five years ago, I got the urge to renovate our guest bathroom. It was a ridiculously huge room and a terrible waste of space. I wanted to convert it into a guest bedroom with an on suite, much smaller, bathroom.
I persuasively talked Terence into agreeing to this very necessary [in my opinion] but fairly expensive [in his opinion] alteration and the builders were called in. My Dad was managing the building project and the builders he employed to assist with the work needed to be paid at the end of each week. I have a limit on my bank account and can only withdraw a certain amount of cash each day. In order to ensure that I had enough cash available to make these weekly payments, I got into the habit of popping into the local shopping centre and drawing some cash from the auto bank each day so that I would have enough to pay the builders at the end of the week.
One Thursday, towards the end of the job, I woke up feeling horrible with a terribly sore throat. I am very susceptible to tonsillitis and I hate being sick so I decided to go to the doctor and get a quick fix. My Mom come with me. On the way home after my visit to the doctor I popped into the local shopping centre to draw cash, as had become my daily practice. I was in a rush as I had waited at the doctor’s room for my appointment and need to collect Michael from nursery school at 12.30pm. It was already 11.30am and I needed to go home and drop off my Mom and take my medicine before heading off to the school. Needless to say, I wasn’t being as vigilant as usual and when I drove into our gate I stopped halfway down the driveway. I planned to just pop into the house, take my medicine, and then leave again. I noticed that the gate hadn’t closed automatically which it usually did. I turned around and saw a smart white BMW parked at the top of the driveway, blocking the gate and causing the sensor to keep the gate open. I was initially annoyed, I thought it was one of the contractors relating to the building work and opened my mouth to yell at them to move their car immediately. As I watched, two men got out of the car and started walking down the driveway; they both had guns in their hands.
In retrospect, I probably should have reacted differently to the way I did. I should have hit the car hooter and maybe reversed back into these criminals. At the time, however, I thought they wanted my car and I had my Mom to worry about so I didn’t do these things. I got out of the car and so did my Mom and I gestured to them to take the car . They were not after my car. They wanted to go into my home and see what they could steal. My Dad was working in the outside office, the builders were working in the sealed off bathroom and our domestic worker was inside the house but none of them saw anything. The leader of the criminals, Criminal Number One, told us to go into the house. When I opened the front door, he put a gun to my head. I heard the click as he cocked the gun. We entered the house like that with me , with a loaded and cocked gun at my head, and Criminal Number One entering first and then my Mom and then Criminal Number Two. Criminal Number Three stayed in the car with the engine running. The home invaders asked me for my jewellery. I went down the passage with my Mom and opened the safe. The criminals then told us, and our domestic worker, to lie down on the floor and they tied us up with some of my husband’s ties that they took from our wardrobe. They then left the bedroom and set off on an investigation of my house to see what else they could take.
I was just lying there wondering whether I should try and untie myself and make a dash for the panic button on the wall in the second bedroom when I heard shouting. My Dad had come into the house and had walked right into the two gun-yielding robbers. My Dad was a hero. He shouted at them and told them he had called the security company [very cool headed of him]. The criminals clearly decided not to take a chance and fled in their car. They took my Mom and my cell phones, all my cash and all my jewellery but we were all unharmed. As soon as I heard my Dad shout, I pulled my hands free, the criminals had not done a good job of tying me up, and dashed for the panic button. I pressed it for about 5 minutes straight. It amazes me when I think back on this incident about how calm I was at the time. I remained calm afterwards as well, leaving home immediately to go and fetch my son from school as usual. When I got back home the police were there and we gave our statements. Terence had been alerted to a problem by the security company and had come home. He arranged for all the locks on the house to be changed as well as the security code for the electric gate.
For weeks afterwards everything seemed very bright and detailed. I saw guns everywhere. Every time someone pulled a cell phone or set of keys out of their pocket I saw a gun. The shock did pass, however, and I settled back into my normal life. I am much more careful now and if there is a car behind me when I get to my gate I drive around the block. I have a mobile panic button in my car and we have had security camera’s installed. Sadly though, every year when Spring rolls around I remember this incident which is a pity because Spring was always my favourite time of year. I wish I could parcel up the memories and throws them in the fish pond, as one throws in coins for good luck. I am very grateful for my Dad’s bravery as he saved us, of this I am sure. It is amazing how 10 short minutes can have such an impact on your life.
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