Hi there! Miranda speaking. I first met Wendy in November of ‘64 when I was 8 months pregnant with my second child. It was a hot summer’s day and I was sitting in the back yard. I was feeling very depressed. Life was difficult. I felt alone, unsupported and isolated. I was thinking ‘Surely life can’t be this tough, I can’t carry on like this; I really need help.’
Then a few moments later there was a soft knock at the back yard door that leads out into the street of Rondebosch, a suburb of Cape Town. At first I ignored it but the knocking became persistent. I heaved myself off the cement step and went to answer it. On opening the door I saw a small woman with long dark brown hair and a brown pair of eyes looking at me. She smiled and softly said ‘I’m sorry to disturb you but it is such a hot day, may I have a glass of water’. I invited her into the yard and we began a conversation.
W – ‘I see you are pregnant. That’s great, when’s your baby due?’
M – ‘In about 4 weeks, it’s my second pregnancy. I’ve sent my first child away to his uncle and aunt’s to be looked after and I’m missing him terribly.’
I guess my longing for my firstborn and the circumstances that had impacted on my decision to send him away long before my due date just spilled over. The next thing I knew was that a couple of hours had gone by and that I had found a friend, confidant and mentor.
Wendy admitted some time later that she had no idea that day why she had found herself walking about in my neighbourhood and why she had even knocked on my door, after all she wasn’t even thirsty! Yet, she had been compelled to do so. The explanation she gave me was also strange. She said she was a follower of Swami Venkatesananda and was ‘marking time’ before going to listen to him give a lecture at the Mitra Hall in Mowbray. She had decided to walk along the Main Road. As she got to Rondebosch Fountain she found her feet taking her up the hill, away from the traffic into the quiet residential streets. When she got to my back door she was unable to move, it was as if her feet were stuck to the pavement. So she decided to knock and find out what was behind the door that was stopping her from moving forward.
During our time together before my second son’s birth Wendy and I became inseparable. She had studied yoga with Swamiji as she called Venkatesananda and had been teaching the postures and breathing techniques to bored white suburban housewives who wanted to spice up their lives with ‘something Eastern’ without having to go into areas demarcated as ‘coloured’. Wendy would come to their homes so that they were still ‘safe’ from the long arm of the South African Special Branch and their relentless search for anyone who broke their Apartheid Laws. The fact that Wendy’s grandmother was Indian was not revealed to most people because Wendy with her cultured voice and schooling in ‘Western’ manners had always passed for ‘white’. Nevertheless this secret heritage had given her access into both worlds. Wendy was equally at home in the homes of the wealthy and the poor albeit they ‘White’ or ‘Indian’.
Wendy realised during our first marathon conversation where I had poured my heart out about my circumstances that I needed to turn my attention onto my unborn child. I needed to refocus so that I could climb out of the pit of despair I had dug for myself and bring this baby into a world that was filled with at least some hope. She offered to teach me breathing techniques and yoga postures that would assist me in having a satisfying and natural birth.
Read on next week…
Or find out more about who Wendy is!