Allergies, Aryans and butterflies

Jennie Ridyard

Saturday was a time of wonder. I was back in my hometown, and a whole day sprawled ahead, empty yet filled with promise.

It was the day of Gauteng’s splendid Blizzard of the Butterflies, so I lay on my back on still-dewy morning grass gazing blissfully up through the leaves, spellbound as countless white butterflies billowed by in the perfect blue skies, tossed in the breeze like snow flakes.

Then I sneezed, and my eyeballs puffed into red jelly orbs while my irises became watery indents, a reminder that it wasn’t only billowing butterflies above, but clouds of pollen too. Sometimes a girl forgets her allergies…

Later I wandered around my little local, alternative enclave of shops and curiosities, which is always a favourite pleasure, punctuated as it is with lazy trees, scuttling chickens, and the promise of cake. It’s the kind of place where secondhand bookshops have resident dogs and happy owners, where folk are lovely and give you gifts and discounts.

It’s also the kind of place where secondhand bookshops have a “War Killing Fighting Etc” section, and hand-drawn signs on the windows wondering what will go extinct next. Rhinoceroses, they suggest, or wild dogs, or indeed toll roads (yes please), copper wire, Aryans, and even golliwogs.

Oh, and “conversation” too – and this was certainly a conversation-stopper! I’m not sure which Aryans they’re referring to though, or in what context: is it Nazi-approved Master Race-style Aryans, or the Aryans of Indian or Iranian roots? And what of golliwogs? Was this a reaction to perceived political correctness gone mad, where poor old Golly-gee-whizz with his inky-black face, big lips, frizzy hair and round, white eyes is the victim of crazy folks who don’t understand the innocence of a racially-stereotyped childhood toy? I wandered on.

On an old chair a pair of frayed rag dolls awaited buyers: the blonde, blue-eyed one was turned haughtily away from her companion – none other than a genuine golliwog! I almost bought them both for the dear chap at the bookshop nursing his Aryan and Golly extinction worries, but there was cake to be had, and there were butterflies to be watched, and sometimes it’s better to just to wander, and wonder.

Because sometimes it does a girl good to forget her allergies…



today in print

today in print