19 Years ago today, at roughly 14:00, I stood in a manky little pastel green prefab office in a small, godforsaken hellhole of a town as the headmaster of the reform school I was at delivered the news of my father's death to me.
At the end of that year, the powers that were deemed it appropriate that I be released into my mother's care and resume my school career and further development within the normal channels. At the end of that year, I left that school without a backward glance. It was what it was and had been what it had been and it was over.
I could tell you all sorts of stories about my time in the care of the Transvaal Education Department. There were a great many practices in the system that I think would make any parent's hair stand on end to hear of. And yes, it was hard. My nonconformist nature never sat well with the authoritarian System or its clinical approach to my utterly unclinical view of life, my many shades of grey. (I wonder what they would think, those people, if they were to see me now...)
But it was also easy. The regimented life. Wake up, roll call - subjects identified by number. I was number 58. 5 minutes to dress, roll call. 5 minutes to make up your room. Roll call. March down stairs, single file, stand in line for breakfast. Those stiff, scratchy, royal blue tunic style dresses and government issue nylon panties.
When my father first drove me to that place, less than a year before he died, I cannot describe how profoundly imposing the sight was that first greeted me as we turned in at the gate and drove up to the main building.
And when I went back there last year, I could not believe how different it looked and yet, how very much the same.
This was the first view I ever had of that place, and also the last:
Wherever my father is now, I wish him peace.