“Being robbed is the price we pay for the way we live,” my husband said, several hours after we came home on Saturday to find our front gate jimmied, our front door kicked in and many of our valuables stolen.
I’ve been thinking about this for days now. He’s right. Petty theft, smash-and-grab attacks, burglaries, home invasions, hijackings, even rapes, murders and worse (although I can’t think of anything worse) …
These are the levies that South Africans pay for our blue-skied, maid-tidied, gardener-pruned lives.
It’s a bit like The Hunger Games. Payment works on a lottery basis in that you don’t know which number is going to come up, but every couple of years, there’s a reaping. And you must pay. Hopefully you don’t lose lives, limbs, love for life. Hopefully it’s just the insured stuff and not too many of the sentimental irreplaceables. Hopefully they don’t come back. Until next time.
We started out nonchalantly. “We got off quite lightly,” we said to each other. No-one was home and so no-one was hurt. We offered the armed response officers cappuccino and water. We chatted with the police. We made jokes about not bothering to get a new front door. We felt quite silly getting a guard to spend the night. And the next day.
Until we found him fast asleep on Night #2. And I cried and cried and cried.
I also cried about the pearl earrings I inherited from my husband’s grandmother; the ones I wore on my wedding day. The earrings he gave me when our daughter was born. The earrings I received for my 21st and then for my 30th. I cried because the burglars took the whole jewellery box, so I didn’t notice its absence until hours later — when I saw the empty space it had sat in.
It could be the electric fence guys. The teams of fibre-installing workmen in our area. Someone we know. Someone we don’t. Someone I’ve smiled at. Someone I’ve never seen. It could be anyone. It’s everyone.
And today I feel the need to write about the price we pay, because I’m wondering if being South African has jaded us beyond the point of reason. I’m wondering if it’s unfair to expect to have sunshine, a pool, a maid, a gardener, a nice car, a beautiful home and the ability to fund both private schooling and private healthcare, while also being safe in our lives.
Are all of these blessings too many for one family? Do they make us more vulnerable to a reaping than those who have less?
It isn’t right. I know that. But maybe it is fair. If I go the fairness route, I suppose I believe in luck. Karma. Destiny. And I do. Much to my husband’s dismay, however, I also believe in G-d. And that’s going to have to help me sleep tonight. Because more than that, I simply do not know.
If you have any ideas, share them. And may the odds be ever in your favour.