Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Special places, special memories

We were lucky enough to be able to spend the weekend at Mabula, which is another of the beautiful places in this country that we are fortunate to be able to visit at least once a year. Even though we only spend a couple of days there every year, it feels, in its own way, like coming home. The whole place is steeped in memories of many things, mainly being there as a family with the parents over the years as the kids all grew up. Mabula pre-dates all of them.

When we go on a game drive at Mabula, I am always fascinated by the colours of the bush. Grey, brown and green can seem to be extremely boring colours, even in combination, yet all around, the bush is absolutely beautiful in its starkness.

It’s a long time since I’ve been to Mabula in summer and I am developing a desire to see the bushveld in its greenest glory. Maybe one day… At the moment, the privilege of being able to go there and experience the glory of that part of the world, even for a brief time, is something that is so very special.

At Mabula, you can’t drive around in your own car. You go out on organised game drive vehicles with a ranger. It is a rather special – and spoiled – way to encounter the bush. When we were at Pilanesberg a couple of weeks ago (see how we get around?), we drove ourselves, which was a rather alien experience for the kids, as they have grown up going to Mabula.

Places like that that are part of their childhood are just so much more special. Also, of course, the reason we go to Mabula is because of Mum and Dad. The reason we can still keep on going, is definitely because of both of them, which makes going there both sad and wonderful at the same time.

Memories have the habit of invading before you even realise you are having them. Memories of those we have lost are never gone, I think, but just wait the chance to be triggered by something someone says, or a place, or image, or a smell.

For me, being at home does not necessarily make me think about Mum and Dad. I find that, there, they are really simply in their own place in my mind all the time. It is when we go to places where they have been with us that I have strong, specific memories of them. Strangely, it is when I go to places familiar to me, but where they never really went (like Gonubie), that I actually miss them even more – simply because it is then that I really, really want to phone them.

I think that will never go away. I will always want to tell them things. They were so important to me, to all of us – and so interested in everything we ever did.

Mabula is one of those places that, for me, is about the present, the fun and making new memories. It is also, so much, about what has been and the legacy that still remains.

Apart from the sheer beauty and wonder of the place, it is that that makes it so special to all of us.


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