Red Sorrow (Rooi Verdriet)

I wake up in a very old house. My spouse is with me. Everything in the house is old, including the bed linen. I ask my spouse, “Where are we”? He replies: “We are renting this house”.

I hear voices outside the bedroom window, and when I open the curtains, I see a pavilion outside the window. Instead of people, there are rows upon rows of birds which look almost like vultures.

Close to the vultures is a group of young girls who are taking care of the vultures. One of the girls approaches me to speak to me, but I ignore her and walk away.

The rest of the garden is just red sand, without trees or grass. My son is staying with us, and he is 6 years old. He is running around and gaping at everything.

I go down a hallway in search of the kitchen to make myself a cup of tea. The kitchen is very tumble-down, with exposed wiring by the stove. I couldn’t find the wall plug to plug the kettle into. My son arrives and tells me that he will help me. He uses the exposed plug by the stove, and I get such a fright. I shout at him “No, you will shock yourself to death!”

He replies “Don’t worry, I know how it works”. An old woman walks into the kitchen, she looks very weary. I walk back down the hallway, and enter one of the rooms. There are 4 single beds, and two of them are occupied by 15 year old girls. I ask them what they are doing, and they reply that they live here.

I was upset, because of the large amount of people that now seem to be living in our house! When I ask, the one girl replies that she thinks about fifteen people are staying in the house. Furious, I begin searching for my spouse.

He is in the main bedroom, along with three young boys. My son is with me now, and he picks up a plastic toy. It’s a purple dragon that folds up and then its wings unfold. I tell him: “You can’t take that toy, it’s not yours.” He becomes upset at this. My spouse takes the toy away from him, inspects it, then give it back, telling him he can keep it.

My spouse and I leave the house and go the petrol station. I get out and realize everyone is looking at me. I realize I am only wearing a skimpy shirt! I start feeling angry because my spouse let me leave the house without proper clothes on, then he drives away from me.

I see a man buying a shooter drink from a hawker on the side of the road. The customer is shaking like he is having an epileptic fit, but after drinking a shot he starts shaking less, and then buys another and his shaking stops altogether. I realize he’s an alcoholic.

When my spouse returns, I am very angry and ask him why he let me leave the house without proper clothes on, and why we are living in such a poor neighborhood.

He said that this is all we can afford, and that’s it’s not all that bad, it’s a “Rooi Verdriet” neighborhood.
“A rooi verdriet neighborhood was a poor neighborhood long ago which was mainly made of red bricks”.

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