Bricklayer, Barman and Creative Writer (2015)

It is Easter again and thirty years since my father died. That was way back in 1985; I was almost sixteen and my brother only a few years older. Since that time Easter has been a special time of the year for me. A time to reflect on those times and all the years in between. Thirty years is a long time…

I did my National Service at eighteen, and travelled a lot as a young man and a bricklayer. I hitch-hiked across the country, or took trains and buses, often down to the coast where I worked at times. I had a bike at one point in time and did a few trips through the country-side that were super. But most of the intervening years were spent at home in the outside room. I was in-and-out of jobs in my twenties and eventually became a barman for five years into my early thirties. I worked hard and played hard in those days. Busting tables at the club during weekends, and partying on my off days. We also did quite a bit a fishing spending days on end at the dam in the sunshine…

One day I made up my mind to start studying and chuck the barman job. I passed second year Afrikaans and English but could not complete my degree. I also began writing in that time, starting out with poetry, and then progressing to fiction and prose over the years. It has now been more than ten years of battling it out on the internet with my writing; with varying success. My creative writing has improved a lot but I still have not officially been published. I just write stories for the pleasure of publishing them on the internet, hoping I might get a few reads…

The days are getting cooler as autumn approaches. Soon it will be the long cold days of winter on the Highveld, where the air is thin and fresh. Easter promises to be a quiet affair with a lot of people being way for the holidays. Thirty years holds a lot of memories as I sit and think of the seasons that have passed. We have persevered, but more importantly; our dreams have prevailed. And each day the sun still rises and sets, an endless wheel in the sky.

Tom Brown (PhD in Mathematics.)

My brother Tom was the first of us two kids to go to school. It was in the early 70’s. He was one of those kids who are nervous on their first day at school, but took to it like a fish to water. He was a star student right from the start, winning a little silver cup for best pupil in grade one.  He was always a straight A student as he progressed through school, and at home is hobbies was electronics and science. In high-school he performed very well academically and achieved an 8th place in the Science Olympiad in Standard 9, and in his final year he achieved a second place overall. That year he went to the International Science Olympiad in London.  He also played in the chess team and was captain at one point in time.

At university he continued to excel in his studies. He earned his BSc after a few years of study where he performed as best student. On achieving his Honours Degree he won the Senate Medal for best Honours student in the faculty of Sciences. He then did his Master’s Degree at the University of South Africa before starting his Doctorate at the University of Pretoria under Professor Nico Sauer.  In 2005, after more than fifteen years of study, he finally became Tom Brown (PhD) on earning his Doctorate at this University. He now holds a PhD in Applied Mathematics, and coming from a small middleclass family, we are all very proud of him. It is our dreams and ambitions come true, and something that can never be taken away from us. A fine achievement to carry with us into the future.