Die Here Sal Kom, My Kindby Alex Searle / 28.05.2011
God’s tardiness reaches Biblical proportions
5:55PM SATURDAY. Reaching up to the sky with the Die Bybel underneath her arm and five year-old Jantjie holding on, Anika Van Wyk believes she is one of the one hundred and forty four thousand to be swept up to the heavens this evening. A brilliant ray of light will flash across the horizon, parting the clouds as a thunderous roar announces the Mighty Hand of Salvation. It will transport Jantjie, her boyfriend Piet and herself up to the heavens in their bright red caravan. The dog has disappeared in the valley littered with trailers, cars and mobile homes. Jantjie lets go of his mother’s clammy grasp to search for his dog while Anika, oblivious, raises another hand in the direction of paradise.
5:59PM. This is it. The 15 000-strong crowd goes silent. Radios and hi-fis are killed. Everyone fixes their eyes on the shapeless vapours dancing in the endless blue. The valley is spellbound. Any minute now. A chilling wind passes through. A phone rings somewhere in the distance. Anika checks her watch. Ja, it’s past 6PM but maybe our watches are wrong. Nothing can shake her faith. Die Here sal kom. Piet takes a sip of his Windhoek Lager.
6:25PM. Mouths are dry. Eyeballs ache. Some of the older men sit in their camping chairs, using the old ‘college rugby injury’ excuse. The sun disappears behind the mountains. Pockets of people begin to talk. Weren’t the calculations supposed to be right this time? Someone offers to phone his toll-free line but the number no longer exists. Ag, maybe it’s different time zones, someone says. The commotion leads to more questions than answers.
6:49PM. Jantjie finds his dog under an old Ford Escort far from the caravan and attaches a leash. A sea of Christians surround them with shouting and chaos. No one offers help. He might be able to find his way back if there weren’t so many people making so much noise. He wishes he knew what they were going crazy about. Tears well in his eyes. Waar is my ma?
The valley is almost empty. A handful of true believers remain, dozing in their trucks to hushed radio voices. Far off in the darkness, a statue, whose head is tilted skyward, stands alone. The bright red caravan is gone along with Piet. Anika’s hands remain numbly lifted towards the black dome of stars, where God continues to hide.
11:13PM. Anika hasn’t seen Jantjie for hours. But it’s okay, because any minute now, they’ll all be in heaven. Die Here sal kom, my kind.