Lelie-kind rubbed her eyes and sighed deeply. It’s no use sobbing, she thought, there’s no-one here to hear me. She stared at the stubbornly blank screen on her computer. What had she done wrong? Which key had she pressed last? She brewed another cup of green tea and pondered the problem of how she was to finish her opinion piece on the Zuma statue drama. It had been so exciting to be asked to write for the local Burger Nuus and now she wouldn’t even be able to submit it! Thank goodness Jacob Zuma had been removed from office and they would be spared that life-size monstrosity!
She needed help desperately. It was Tuesday and the Pensioner’s Tea Club hadn’t met on Monday because Tannie Bev had been driving back from Cape Town, Felsity still had her sister visiting her, and Tannie Anna had been kuiering in a game reserve. Lelie-kind shook her head sadly: not only were they growing old; were they now growing apart? Tannie Bev had missed three teas in a row already!
Lelie-kind picked up her new-fangled cell phone and scrolled to the Pensioner’s Tea Club Whats-app Group – thank goodness we are all up to date on that score she thought as she slowly typed her message:
Disaster has struck! Meet for tea at ten. I will book. Bring thinking caps.
Felsity responded first: Thinking cups? I don’t have one. Has Die Groot Koeksuster run out of cups? Will a mug do?
Then came Tannie Bev: Please order cheesecake. Sick of chocolate cake!
Wendolina: I have already used my pensioner’s discount on lettuce seedlings!
Liesbet: Pumpkins would be better for winter.
Wendolina: I live on salads. Will you bring those tomato seedlings you promised last week?
Liesbet: You didn’t collect them.
Karen: What disaster? I have potted mint!
Lelie-kind watched the messages come in. Each beep brought her hope, only to be dashed. What about her problem? She put it to them as soon as the members of the Pensioner’s Tea Club had assembled at Die Groot Koeksuster.
“I desperately need some Mac support. Do any of you know who could help me?”
Conversation halted as the ladies looked at each other mystified. Felsity pulled her mug from her capacious bag and held it up accusingly. “Lelie-kind, why did you tell me to bring my mug? There’s mos lots of cups here!”
Merilee dabbed her lips with the flimsy bit of paper that passed for a serviette and took another bite of cheesecake. “Is your mac torn?” she asked with concern. “I covered a tear in my mac with a strip of insulation tape. That will keep me dry.”
“As if we’ll have any rain!” Wendolina nearly choked on her tea. “You’ll have to wait for summer to come around again.”
“Always be prepared I say,” Merilee responded primly. “A stitch in time saves nine you know.”
“Insulation tape? I must remember that,” Tannie Anna wrote in her notebook. “I hate sewing!”
Liesbet turned to Lelie-kind. “Are you talking about a MacDonald burger? You know I had what they call a gourmet burger at Piet’s Place the other day.”
“Piet’s Place! Since when have you been frequenting a pub and so-called restaurant?” Tannie Anna waved her pencil in the air. “Such places are for young people and the irresponsible segments of society.”
“Segments!” Karen guffawed, her dangly earrings glinting in the morning sunlight. “Segments, really Tannie Anna, anyone would think we live in a caterpillar!”
“It’s very respectable if you go early,” Liesbet continued smoothly. “I even saw Dominee van Liebenberg there with his wife. She had a new hairdo.”
Lelie-kind put her hands over her ears. “I wish it was that simple! I have a problem with my Apple Mac!”
“Apples? There aren’t any apples here!” Tannie Bev waved her hand over the table, knocking over the sugar bowl. “Ag hene, what a mess!”
“Yes, I used to read those stories to my children when they were small,” Karen laughed. “They were so funny.”
“Did you leave an apple in your mac?” Merilee leaned forward to scrape the sugar into a heap with the remains of her serviette. “They shrivel long before they disintegrate you know. Has yours gone rotten? I don’t know if you can wash macs in the machine.”
“I tried washing my tackies with the sheets,” Felsity added. “They’ve never been the same. I think the cycle was too hot.”
“You cycle?” Wendolina sounded surprised. I thought you walked everywhere! Anyway, I only wash in cold water. Ag Lelie-kind, be a dear and ask for some extra hot water to top up the tea pot.”
Lelie-kind stood up. “It’s my Apple Mac that’s a problem.” She felt desperate.
“What’s that?” Felsity looked at her intently. “You know I would help if I understood what the problem is.”
“It’s my computer Felsity. My computer is called an Apple Mac.”
Felsity turned over her new cell phone. “You mean like this half eaten apple?” She shook her head and clucked knowingly. “No wonder you have a problem with it. I couldn’t hear my phone for a week until the young man at the cell phone place showed me I had activated the ‘do not disturb’ thingy. I didn’t even know the phone had such a thing! Are you sure you didn’t press the ‘do not disturb’ button?”
“Sorry I can’t help,” Liesbet poured more tea. “I saw fresh apples in the shop yesterday though.”
“Have you got a new apple pie recipe Liesbet? Yum! Bring it next time.” Tannie Bev pushed away her empty plate.
“You have to buy your cake here,” Karen reminded them.
“Perhaps we could meet for Scrabble and apple pie,” Tannie Anna suggested wistfully.
“Not Scrabble again,” Merilee complained. “I keep telling you we should play bridge.”
“I can’t play bridge,” Karen said crossly. She turned to Lelie-kind, “Sorry about your phone Lelie-kind. You’ll just have to cross that bridge when you come to it.”
“What bridge?” Wendolina squeezed the last drop of tea from the small metal tea pot. “You know they’ve fixed the potholes in Deurmekaar Street? Some of them were so deep they needed bridges to cross them!”
“It’s – not – my – phone. It is my computer that’s stopped working!” Lelie-kind was almost shouting in frustration.
“Your computer! Why didn’t you say so in the first place?” Wendolina rummaged around in her bag, pulling out notebooks, cash slips, an old lipstick and a cracked mirror in the process. “It’s here somewhere, I know. Ah! Look here.” She smoothed out a crumpled sheet of paper. “My son once told me of this computer doctor in the next dorp. Here’s the phone number.” A triumphant smile wreathed her lined face.
“The next dorp!” Tannie Bev laughed. “How will you and your Apple Mac get there?”
“Easy, just ask Willem Pieterse to drive you in his bakkie. I’ll come with you if you like,” Liesbet offered brightly.
“Enough! Enough! All of you, please pray for me.” Lelie-kind could feel the tears of frustration prick behind her eyelids.
“Why must we pay for you Lelie-kind? I’ve already spent my pensioner’s discount on lettuce seedlings,” Wendolina reminded her.
“I’ll pay for her.” Merilee opened her purse.
“Thank you Merilee. I asked you to pray not pay!” Lelie-kind handed over her share of the bill.
“I’ll bake an apple pie,” Liesbet offered as she gathered her things. “Perhaps that will help you sooner than waiting for prayers on Sunday.”
“Right now I’m too nauseous with worry to even contemplate apple pie!”
“Aw Lelie-kind. I’m sorry to hear that. Hope you feel better soon.” Tannie Bev stood up to hug her friend. “I must go now.”
Karen kissed her on the cheek. “I’ll pop in later to check on you.”
Tannie Anna hugged her too. “I’ll ask Jannie if he knows a suitable mechanic for you.”
Mr Leketi watched the group of elderly ladies disperse. As the one called Lelie-kind passed him on the way out, he said softly. “Greatest Solutions on Market Street is the place to go. They fixed my Mac in a jiffy.”