Dis Tyd, the sign said. It’s Time.
I smiled to myself as we entered the room. A fire crackled, merrily accompanying the sound of people chatting. It was a miserable day outside. I was so glad we had followed Eduard’s advice and investigated his wife’s new coffee shop.
Every week, my best friend, ‘B’ and Eduard met for their Sunday bike rides. Hither and thither they rode hectically through the George forests and mountains. Eduard and ‘B’ shared a ‘life’ I knew nothing about. That was fine. He was her cycling buddy. He was her ‘Young Gun’!
One day, ‘B’ said to me: “Eduard tells me that his wife, Mia, has opened this wonderful coffee shop near Fancourt. He suggested we should pop in. After pilates lets try out her cappuccinos!
We stood in the coffee shop and looked for a spare table.
“Can I help you?” asked this petite woman with a wide mouth and eyes brimming with life.
“Yes, please. We would like a table for two.”
When she took our order, we introduced ourselves to Mia. “I had a suspicion you were Eduard’s ‘B’,” she laughed. “He told me you were small and had a force and energy that bowled people over!”
An apt description of ‘B’!
“Here is that gorgeous ‘chocolate bomb’ cake we ordered,” ‘B’ enthused. I looked in the direction of the approaching culinary delight and my eyes fell, not on the cake but on a table. Such an incredibly beautiful table. It’s pedestal looked as if it was made with different pieces of wood all slotted together. I walked around it and sighed. It was stunning.
“That was made by Eduard from Kiaat wood.” I hadn’t even noticed Mia standing beside me. “In fact, he made all the furniture in this shop.”
My eyes took in the furniture around me: the tables and chairs were all different, the side board, amazing wooden vases.
“But…but Eduard cycles,” I said stupidly.
“He does that too,” Mia laughed, “He is a furniture manufacturer.”
Eduard and Mia met when they were both about 15 months old. Their parents were friends and they visited each other in Tzaneen. Mia cherishes a photo that was taken of the two children sitting on their mothers laps, shyly peeping at one another.
As I devoured the ambrosial ‘chocolate bomb’, I knew that I had to meet with Eduard.
Eduard’s factory was not far from Dis Tyd. The dust swirled lazily in the shafts of sunlight shining through the open door. Eduard grinned shyly and introduced his assistant, Jacques.
The room was dominated by a huge wooden sideboard. It had obviously been sanded. It had that raw, fresh smell to it.
“This is what I’m working on at the moment,” Eduard said.
“So you restore furniture as well as make it. How beautiful this is.” I ran my hand along the top. I had grown up surrounded by beautiful furniture inherited by my mother. I recognised the handsome antique oak wood beneath my hand.
“You should have seen it when it was bought in to us. A bit of crumbly old furniture that looked ready to be thrown away. Thank goodness the owner knew what it could look like. He handed it over to me and it was love at first sight. I saw the sideboard’s potential and Jacques and I got to work.”
“The owner will do a hop, skip and a jump when he sees it,” I enthused.
“Well…um…he will be pleased,” Eduard said practically.
Thirteen years ago, Eduard had done a course in furniture technology at Saasveld College in George. He had then gone into business making kitchen cupboards. He found that gave him little joy so six years ago he opened up this workshop. Suddenly things fell into place. He was doing what he loved to do. He was creating and restoring furniture.
“When I restore furniture, I feel a bit like a plastic surgeon. I return youth and vitality to a decrepit object. And being able to create my own furniture is liberating.”
“Do you use your own designs or do you use a computerised design system?”
He laughed and tapped his head. “They all come from up here!”
For me, ‘B’s cycling buddy had been transformed. I realised that I had wrongly categorised and inadvertently compartmentalised him. I had thought of Eduard as being ‘B’s cycling buddy and nothing more. I thought of my hairdresser, manicurist, dentist, doctor. Too often we label people and by doing so, forget that there is so much more to them. Suddenly Eduard had altered. Why? Because I had been granted a window into his life. Suddenly he was no longer merely ‘B’s cycling buddy but a person. A person with a sense of humour, a passion for his work, a gentleness that touched on all around him. We are not given windows into everyone’s life. But I will no longer categorise people. My hairdresser is not someone who merely cuts my hair. She has a life that includes hair cutting. Whether I am ever given that window into her life is neither here nor there. I will just remember.
As I will remember, ‘B’s cyclist who turned into so much more.
Eduard changed me in the process.
One day when I move into a bigger house, it will have a beautiful round table in my entrance hall, made by Eduard. It’s pedestal will be made up of different facets of wood that catch the different hues and tones surrounding it. It will be made of oak.
I love oak.
And ‘chocolate bomb’ cake!