It was heading towards christmas time and the temperatures were insane!
100 plus in the shade and high humidity levels.
Apparently it was summertime in Africa. People would write from home with tales about the weather and how cold it was, whilst we were baking and using air conditioning units in our bedrooms at night to keep cool.
I wondered what christmas would be like here, would we have a tree and how would it feel to celebrate without frost or even snow outside to add to the atmosphere. We had no chimney for Santa to climb down and bars at our windows, how would he get in, this worried me.
I was pretending to be invisible one day as mum and dad had guests.
I found these occasions very tedious and preferred to blend into the background and not be involved. They would acknowledge me sometimes and then all eyes would be on me, I didnt like this being quite a shy girl.
When people would arrive dad used to make me speak and show off my french, especially if they were Belgians.
I hated it and had to say “Enchante” , pleased to meet you, and then shake their hands.
They would ask me about school which was my least favourite topic of conversation. I would just lie and say “C’est bien , merci beaucoup”
I escaped to inside a den that I had made underneath the diningroom table.
I’d taken some double sheets from the laundry room and draped them over the table, turned the chairs to face outwards giving me lots of space. Big Ted was sat on one of the cushions with a biscuit infront of him. A peg was holding my drapes closed. I’d taken all of the cushions from the sofa much to mums annoyance.
Double doors were open to the lounge area so I could hear everything going on but I didnt pay much attention as the talk was usually about work and was mega boring.
That is until they started talking about something in particular!
One of the english guests who lived on site mentioned the word ‘burglary’!
I stuck my head out from behind my curtains and clutched them under my chin.
She went on to say that they’d had a spate of burglaries on site and the residents there were getting extremely concerned over security.
I listened intently as she went on to describe that the homes had literally been cleared out! Furniture, clothes, rugs, personal belongings, absolutely everything was taken!
Not your normal types of theft. This was pre-planned and suitable transport arranged to get all the stuff out.
This obviously happened when the properties were empty of occupants.
She was saying that most of the houses targeted didnt have dogs and the ones that did were left alone.
In general the Congolese dont like dogs and are scared of them.
It was a worrying problem and the ex pats were extremely terrified.
What they were talking about was quite alarming but I knew we would be ok because we had ‘White Fang.’ No one came near us when Tina was about and the locals would give us a wide berth.
Nevertheless, the following day dad came home from work brandishing a Machete, looking quite pleased with himself.
” Its going under the bed Patsy!”
And thats where it would remain, just in case!
After shopping for food in town, mum and I came back to the house, we’d decided not to go to the market as it was just too hot, so we came back early.
Antoine wasn’t home and would come later but Francois, the dodgy ‘houseboy’, who was home, was no where to be seen!
I was on my way to my bedroom to get something when I heard snoring noises coming from the spare room!
And there he was curled up on the spare single bed, sounding like a train, sleeping. Blissfully unaware that he’d been rumbled.
For quite some time mum had been unhappy with his presence in the house, there was just something about him that you couldnt put your finger on. Things had gone missing, items of my clothing and other things.
Mum deliberately left the small amount of jewelry that she had displayed in an obvious way on a table in her bedroom, rather than tucked away out of sight.
So she knew it was there and so did he.
We knew that Antoine wasnt responsible for the things going missing as he was only around at mealtimes and never had cause to go through the corridor to the bedrooms.
She didnt shout at Francois, he just got up, apologised profusely mumbling something about it would never happen again but mum knew she would to talk to dad about it later.
The back dirt patch was in the process of being cleared of rubble and several men were there attending to it.
Dad was at work, I was highjumping on the front and mum was in the house getting ready for us to go out.
All of a sudden there was loud shouting and screaming coming from the back!
I’d never seen mum fly before!
She came out on the verandah with her hair brush in her hand to see what this incredible rumpus was about.
Four men were trying to hit Francois on the head with bricks!
One minute she was there the next she was in the garden amongst the rubble!
I’d never seen her move so fast.
She threw herself into the fight with no thought for her safety and proceeded to swear and yell at these men who were trying to murder Francois.
One of the men was trying to stop the fight and help.
Mum was whacking each of them on the head with her hairbrush like she was holding some deadly weapon!
Although it was scary at the time, afterwards it was probably one of the funniest things I’d seen!
She was like a mad woman trying to help the dodgy ‘houseboy’ from his attackers.
They eventually gave up the assault and she pushed them and told them to leave the property.
Strangely they did what they were told and left but were still shaking their fists at Francois. Whilst eyeing ‘madame’ with her weapon!
We never did find out what he had done to cause these men to react like this but it was the straw that broke the camels back and his work contract with us was terminated.
She actually saved his life but in hindsight it was a dangerous thing to intervene in.
Of course we dined on that episode for several weeks too!
Not long after this event. We were all sound asleep in our beds.
Except for Tina, who slept in mum and dads bedroom or mine depending what she felt like.
She was barking ferociously and excitedly at the same time, wagging her tail.
She actually wasnt the best guard dog in the world and loved everyone, even strangers.
But she did bark.
Dad leapt out of bed grabbed his Machete from under the bed and went to see what Tina was getting upset about.
Tina had actually heard someone attempting to break into the house from one of the external verandah doors but the noise she had made had stopped them in their tracks and they had fled.
But not before dad had caught sight of them through the window.
A lucky escape, for them.