Thirteen Years: Arts, Crafts And An Aquarium

AIDS was… an illness in stages, a very long flight of steps that led assuredly to death, but whose every step represented a unique apprenticeship. It was a disease that gave death time to live and its victims time to die, time to discover time, and in the end to discover life.

~ Hervé Guibert

Arts, Crafts And An Aquarium

Continued from… The Rhodes Memorial & Collecting Minerals

At the Kenilworth shopping center, they first arranged for the photos Jacques had made in the past couple of days to be developed at the one hour service. Annie remembered how much she had liked to walk around this shopping center, but now it disappointed her. The warm character of the building was gone. Somehow it seemed dull and the liveliness it used to have seemed to have disappeared. Annie blamed it on the grey weather outside.

They went up to the first level of the shopping center, where they consumed an early lunch at the Spur. Up to now, they had visited the Spur every day since they were in Cape Town. Annie didn’t mind at all and since Annie didn’t, neither did Isaac. After lunch, they crossed the road to Access Park, but it had also lost its charm. Annie and Jacques bought nothing at Access Park. The three friends went back to the shopping center across the street.

They re-entered the shopping center through a different door. Here, they encountered a group of people who were collecting money to help people with AIDS. Annie just wanted to reach into the travel case around her waist for money to put into the collecting-box, when Isaac walked over to the woman holding the box and pulled up his sleeve.

“I am HIV positive,” Isaac said and showed the woman his gold plated Medic Alert bracelet. He wore this bracelet to warn people of being HIV positive, in case of an emergency. Less than a year ago, his mother had bought him the gold bracelet which Isaac had so desired.

“You are HIV positive?” the woman asked with amazement written all over her face.

“Yes, I am,” Isaac said.

“I can hardly believe it. You look so healthy,” the woman said with a sympathetic smile.

Annie turned her head away. If only the woman knew how ill Isaac really was. Isaac, in turn, looked at the woman and he gently smiled at her.

“I hear that from everyone. Unfortunately, I’m not. I’m in the last phase of the illness,” Isaac said sadly.

“I wish you all the strength that you will need,” the woman said, taking Isaac’s hand in both of hers.

“Thank you,” Isaac smiled. When he rejoined Annie and Jacques, he saw Annie had tears in her eyes.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

Annie didn’t want him to know how sad his words had made her feel and, how proud she was of him being as strong as he was.

“Oh, I had to yawn,” Annie told a white lie.

Isaac looked at her questioningly. He decided to believe her.

They collected the photos from the one hour service and went home.

When they walked outside, it was raining.

“Isaac, can we also go to the Maynard Mall on our way home?” Annie asked. “I always liked to go there.”

“Of course we can, but I have to warn you it’s not the same as it was anymore,” Isaac said.

He was right. Annie felt the same disappointment about the shopping center’s loss of character as she had felt in Kenilworth. The magic these two shopping centers had always held for her was gone. Isaac saw her disappointment.

“It’s not the same anymore, Annie,” Isaac said as he put a comforting arm around her shoulders.

“It surely isn’t. It’s such a shame,” Annie agreed.

“Shall we go home?” Isaac asked.

“Yes, let’s do.”

After a lovely dinner of chicken, rice and green beans the previous evening, they had retired to bed early. Isaac was tired and needed the rest. His guests didn’t mind either going to bed early.

On this Thursday, just three days before they were to go back to the Netherlands, Annie and Jacques would go to the Waterfront again. Jeanne arrived at Isaac’s house at the agreed time of ten o’clock.

The next four days, Jeanne would do the driving, something Isaac was grateful for. No matter how much he had always liked to drive, it was now too tiring for him. Unfortunately, Kathy could not join them before Friday.

Arriving at the Waterfront, they immediately walked to the entrance of the aquarium, but then decide to first go to the craft market next to it. Displayed in the different booths were only hand crafted items — jewelry, paintings, sculptures, clothing and even items created using the art of glassblowing. Annie saw a very nice skirt and top made of unbleached linen. Isaac noticed her interest in the clothes.

“Why don’t you try it on?” he asked.

“Oh no, I’m not buying clothes,” Annie said.

“You don’t have to buy it. Just try it on,” Isaac urged.

Since Annie really liked the clothes, he easily persuaded her. Soon she paraded with the clothes in front of her husband and friends. Five minutes later and back into her own clothes, the group of friends strolled on between the stalls.

“Wait here,” Isaac suddenly said, “I’ve seen something back there that I want to buy.”

Before anyone could react, he had disappeared.

A couple of minutes later, he re-appeared. He had a white plastic bag in his hand.

“Here,” he said and pushed the bag into Annie’s hand.

“Huh? What?” Annie was confused.

“It’s for you,” Isaac whispered in her ear as he hugged her, “to thank you for being my friend.”

“Oh Isaac,” Annie said, trying to blink the upcoming tears away, “you really don’t have to do this.”

“I want to,” he said. Isaac linked his arm through Annie’s and pulled her along, while smiling mischievously.

Annie laughed through her tears, gave him a kiss on his cheek and whispered her thanks in his ear.

Before they entered the Two Oceans Aquarium, they each consumed a hamburger and a soft drink for lunch in the cafeteria.

After lunch, they were just in time to watch the feeding of three white sharks in the shark basin. The guide told them sharks only ate once in about ten days. The sharks didn’t even look at the food, but a sea turtle looked as if it was dancing in the water, trying to get to the floating piece of food before the sharks might take an interest in it.

The four of them walked through the different sections of the aquarium. There was a section for the kelp forests, one for the Indian Ocean and a section that was called the touch pool. The most amazing thing they saw was a spider crab. The specimens they had in the aquarium had a leg span of about two meters, which was only half of what it could be, had the crabs not lived in captivity.

Isaac felt relaxed. He was thoroughly enjoying this day with these people that were so close to him. He missed Kathy, but he knew she would spend the next day with them.

To be continued… A Visit To Cape Point

Note: This series is a rework of a self-published book (2009), rewritten for this blog, and in loving memory of a dear friend who suffered from and passed because of AIDS. Keep in mind this story happens in the late eighties and throughout the nineties. Names of characters have been changed to protect their privacy.

© Rebel’s Notes
Image from Pixabay

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