I am not a Facebook fan though it is useful to keep in touch if you want to stay in touch. However I wonder if is it a good thing to reach to the past all the time? Why is it that you are constantly asked by Facebook where you went to school? (I was in many, more than six.) Or which university you attended if lucky enough to have done so? Or where did you live previously? Where did you work? The answer is obvious - so that your mates are able to track you down. They want to know it is you because you may have changed through the years, all this information is to narrow you down.
I suppose unless you have something to hide, that is not a bad idea but it is to me who likes the shadows. I find it annoying. If I have not spoken to a school friend in thirty years I dare say I do not really want to speak to him now. We have moved on and we have a lifetime of experience behind us. I do not attend reunions and really cannot care less about people who are only on Facebook to satisfy their own inquisitiveness. Hence my profile is reasonably well secured against any "pokers" as we shall call them. Unless I know you or want to know you, you will not be under my friends list. Having said that, I am easy to trace, type my name in and the screen lights up with links. It was not always like that, before Melissa, I was impossible to trace on the internet and preferred it like that. These days I don't care. It is not important anymore to be invisible; my life is an open book up to a point.
Yesterday was three years since Melissa left for her tribal lands, known to you as Florida, USA. I have not seen her since although we had thousands of emails and Skyped when we could. I did my best to be busy yesterday and even attended a meeting I knew before I walked in was not going to realise much results. And it was nice to be busy but you know what? You cannot escape your thoughts and when you have almost total recall like I do then three years are yesterday. I remember kissing Melissa goodbye at the international gate and holding her close. I remember us saying we will be one again soon, within months when the visa is sorted out. We had no idea we will never physically touch again though I may have suspected it as an unconscious level. In the end, when she became ill she would say she should never have got onto that flight. That every wife is entitled to her husband at her side and that "soon" is not quick enough. Yes, we had no idea that our dreams will be shattered and the sadness combined with loneliness will arrive like a damn unwelcome guest who just don't want to leave and always come back. Perhaps the lack of knowledge is a good thing too because I would have kept her here if I had known. We were happy, I can tell you that, like only souls can be.
The Lord says that everything works together to come to a good end, a positive result for those who have faith. I believe that. I know in my heart this is not the end for us. I don't care how long it takes for me to get to heaven but that I will do and I will find you my wife and we will be one again. I laugh at the saying of a thousand lifetimes to do that...I will find you even if it takes eternity and though I may be older you will be your beautiful self and I will recognise you. I often imagine a place with no hunger, pain, divides like an ocean and idiotic officials with a pen. Yes a place with love where nothing can separate us again. I have more to look forward to than what some believe is possible. They focus on the wrong side, the negative one instead of the positive. I pity them.
I have learned the hard way that words of encouragement are cheap and when you are down you only have one sure way to get smiling again. Your memories and the Holy Spirit, I listen to our songs and sometimes I listen to selected gospel music. It is not often that I am that down that I need to do so but when I do I feel better. I remember what the future is and I feel great. The tears stop and the smile return and I remember your eyes smiling at me. Yes, I smile too because you gave me life. Before your death I did not see the heavenly reward of eternal life as anything worthy being called a reward. After all, life is hard and the ability to suffer even longer is really nothing to strive for...but since then I have focussed on what is good in that promise.
It is ironic for you were an atheist when I met you, my soul. Normally I don't even speak to such people, why should I? They ain't anything to me and their philosophies completely silly as much as mine are to them. Nowhere does the Bible actually state that you have to keep on preaching to the same people who treats your messages as a swine does with pearls. Hence I could not care less about such people and still don't, one day when they burn in hell they will know and even then I would not care. But you were different because you are my soul. And when you returned to God the enemy's attacks on you started immediately. That creature too will one day burn and I will enjoy it.
It is written that the death of a child of God is no small thing to the Lord and yours too was no small thing. I frown on frivolous comments from people who have never experienced the death of a soul. If they did they would not be that stupid and make such comments. It changed me a lot. I don't care about wealth or life on earth at all, I only live to go home. I realised I lost nothing in this place and it is only a journey. A test to see who goes where and I look at the rat race around me with pity. It is hard to explain the silliness of stressing about crap you brought onto yourself as if it is soooo important to have a new car, a new flat screen television and the latest mobile phone. It is earthly crap and shows how far adrift we have become from the straight and narrow path. When on your deathbed, I assure you, it will not matter to you. So it does not matter to me how much money I may make, I want a simple life to serve our Lord to get to where you are. I don't care about honours and recognition...I already had the greatest honour to be your husband, what possibly can there be of more value to me? Nah, it cannot compete with holding your hand and seeing the love in your eyes. I don't care.
So I look at this Facebook thing and people trying to live in the past and if honest will know it is for the wrong motives - to see who is fat, grey and rich. I pity such people. Let the past go and work on your future and the future is now, in your own hands no matter what cards you were dealt by life. You have once chance only.
This date, 23 February 2012, means a lot to Melissa and me. I suppose in any relationship you have highlights or at least days to remember. Now I know every day is special as it should be and you should jealously guard against mediocrity as the years go on. It is the enemy of your love for each other...when your better half is taken for granted and it can easily happen. You get used to each other and in some cases you have resentment for whatever took place in the past. Listen to wise words, go and sort it out and fall in love again or make an end to your marriage. It is either great or a great waste of time. It cannot be mediocre. That is not love and not the way it should be.
I was lucky, whenever I heard or saw my wife I felt in love. That included pictures and images in my head and God knows I am not being blasphemous when I say so but such feelings are not normal to me. Before Melissa I did not know what love was and I never felt supported either. I married for the wrong reasons but with the best of intentions - I will never make such mistakes again and I do not blame them, I blame myself. I suppose I can write books on soul mate love and probably will one day. Well I already tried with a short book called Better Men. In that book I explained the two rules of love, i.e. (1) you will never hurt the other side and (2) you will do what is necessary to keep the other side happy. Actually they run together and once running your love is in a perpetual circle. I will explain more about the phenomena later.
Have you noticed your wedding ring is round, in a circle, like a wheel? It is not because your fingers are perfectly round, they are not. Yes have a look; you will note they are flat on the sides so it is not because of that that we find rings to be round. I know if you are an engineer you will now explain to me with slides and fancy maths why a ring is round but I am a simple fellow. I will tell you it is because there is no place for anyone else in your circle of love. And that the love reverberates from that circle to your immediate family. Like concentric shockwaves if you can imagine that and because it is round, it goes in a circle building its own momentum. If you love someone, really love, you will never hurt that person, it is inconceivable and that one will respond in kind, hence the love becomes perpetual. That by the way is another thing which an engineer will deny there - is nothing perpetual in the world but love is not from this world.
How do you fall in love? I don't know and neither did that wise man of the Bible, King Solomon who said so in Proverbs (30 v 19). However, I know that what one man sees as beautiful another may find rather ugly and this is proven many times in real life. You find two people who just cannot live together, get divorced and then live happily with someone else. That is also why the idea of "starting again" or "trying again" simply makes no sense to me. What irritated you then will irritate you now, it is not meant to be, let it go.
You know the feeling, one day you look up and there she is, gliding towards you (a soul never walks, she glides like a vision) and you feel attached. Then much to your surprise she feels the same way and then you have love. It cannot be forced. Love finds its own way, down the slopes as does water. That anyway is what the poets say about love. Imagine this; I have to force myself to love you! How unreal is that now? It is not love but acting...you either love someone or you don't and if she does not return the honor (and action is louder than words) then she is not your soul mate. She cannot be because souls cannot stay apart; the idea is alien to them. They want to be together and feel quite miserable when not. It also means that there is nothing stronger in this world than soul mate love and when two souls meet it is goodbye to previous partners. We see that in law also, suddenly after twenty odd years a couple get divorced. The signs were always there, that they were not souls, but they held on because of decency, children and affectionate love (but not soul mate love).
When it became clear that I would have serious visa problems to get to Melissa we took a break from each other for a few months. We both agreed afterwards there was nothing harder for us to do and that we both knew we would be back. It was in that period that I started writing Mean Streets. I knew she would be back, souls cannot stay apart and she knew it too. I refer to the episode in our books as my "haircut" and wished it never happened. I wish I was treated as a decent law abiding man instead as a terrorist which I am not. Is it to be wondered that I hold the State Department in contempt? But that is water under the bridge. Peace says I, I have never acted against my wife's tribe. In fact I helped you.
So you may wonder why 23 February 2012 so special to us? That was the day when we got married in the eyes of God. It was not a spur of the moment decision but well planned in advance. She knew what dress she wanted to wear and what music to play and brought it with her. They rest I arranged. It took place in the Kruger National Park and the service conducted by an old friend whose wife acted as maid of honour. There are videos of the ceremony which I will not share with anyone online, it is private. She had wild flowers in her hair. As can be expected, as I type here, I see you, my wife. I see you standing next to me holding my hand. I remember the moment when we said yes and the love in your eyes. I remember earlier the day we took a game drive and it started raining. I protected you from the drops with my body, something you found cute and said so. I remember our love songs and always end music nights with them. The first time I did so almost killed me but today I hold on to those memories. When I think of you, which is often, I always smile. When times are hard and I miss you, which is always, I close my eyes and I hear your voice saying that I came into your life not unexpectedly because you knew I was out there. And you found me, and we became one. And that you love me, always.
Happy anniversary my wife, I love you, always.
My dad was a smart man, a regional court magistrate, which is something like a district judge in my late wife's tribal area. He always said the most dangerous thing in the world must be an oom (Afrikaans, uncle, older man) driving with Free State number plates in the city. If he happens to be wearing a hat you better let him go pass you before he bumps into you for the man would be thinking of his corn field back at home. Being a farmer himself he did not meant this derogatory at all and showed a fine sense of humour not usually associated with boring legal men.
He also said the second most dangerous thing in the world is a drunken police constable with a firearm. It is unfortunate that he had to send a few to jail for crimes they most certainly committed. In court he had no sense of humour and was known as a hard man but also a compassionate one. It was many years later after I passed the bar exam that I read his judgments and discovered a superb legal brain. But then, I come from a family of lawyers and as you know turned out to be the black sheep. Hence I say that my dad was wrong with the constable example. I know of something even more dangerous.
These days I am often asked by members of the police or state services (meaning prosecutors etc, not spies) whether they should resign and leave for private practise. Many of them had read my books, either the legal ones (they must have been very bored) or the Mean Streets Series (not boring). My answer is always the same. No, don't leave. Hell no, stay where you are.
This is obviously not what they want to hear and they immediately ask why not? They then explain how much knowledge they have. The thing it, that knowledge is limited. Also because the market place is filled far beyond capacity already, with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan sort of over, there are tens of thousands of gunslingers available for almost nothing. That is the first point and unless you were in the Special Task Force Unit of the police you have almost no chance in getting in unless you know someone. But it goes deeper than that, there are many fly by night operators out there who don't follow any rules. If you get hurt you will not be paid a nice pension and receive medical care, you will be on the street. If you are captured you will probably be beheaded or burned to death. And you will be paid peanuts in comparison with overseas operators.
That is a sore point to me I addressed in Tricks of Trade - Memories of a Rogue Lawyer. You will not convince a European company, never mind an American one, that you are of better quality than their lads. I saw it in Nigeria where the UK lot got paid twice and more than us Boertjies. Why? No reason except the illogical "I am better because I was at a UK University / British Army" attitude. Sadly, they know nothing of Africa and make fools of themselves and their companies when here. We have trained lawyers and doctors and MBA's for more than a hundred years on this continent and we know what we are doing. The legal system is not the same though it is comparative, if you get the South African one you will understand any other jurisdiction where an English Colony existed. But that does not make you an expert. I have seen many UK barristers make fools of themselves here and in Nigeria. I will never recommend their services and am very glad to have them as opponents; I know I will walk circles around them because I am the local expert. They, I am sure will return the favour when I am in the UK, a place I have no desire to see ever again.
I must also admit that I have a serious problem with those trying to advise others without practical knowledge. I see them as hypocrites. Many times I read a daily devotional written, I hope (am not sure, I really doubt it) by a reverend or pastor in which he explains the word of God to poor people. However, the man has never experienced that kind of poverty himself. He lived a nice middleclass life as a kid; he went to college and then started working earning a nice salary every month. He has no idea of the tears of a mother who has hungry children or cannot afford school fees or medical aid when ill. He knows nothing and yet, he quotes the Bible like a Pharisee of old. And then he goes all the way to annoy decent people...he feels so strongly about his message that he writes a book on the subject of which he knows nothing and now he sells it. I have a problem with that.
I also sell books, at times. Sometimes I give them away for free but every book I feel strongly about, like Your Worst Enemy, written for poor people to legally defend themselves against banksters is free. Why is that? Because it cannot sell as one idiot in Australia told me? No, because I feel strongly enough about the message to say take it. Here it is for free. I will never charge money for it and if I lose money because of it, that is fine. My actions have clearly shown my motives, I decided to help the average Joe on the street and I did. I doubt if the selling pastor can say the same but he can explain his ways to God, not me. I know I have the moral high ground here. On the spy thrillers I sell under another name - you know what, they are entertainment, fiction. As such there is no need for me to give them away for free but I can tell you this. Ten percent and more of my books, entertainment or non-fiction, is always paid to deserving organisations. I do what I can to help.
Now to get back to our question, should you resign? I say again, no. You have very little knowledge which will make you survive in the private sector. Yes your mates may do well; perhaps they have a good job. But remember, this is not the state service; here you can get your ass fired quickly and then what? You have, if a white man of my age, a 93% chance (according to statistics) of not, repeat not, finding a job again. Then what? Your wife will probably leave you, I don't believe in love without money...yes I may be wrong and cynical but you know what, I dealt with many many divorces because of this very reason. You lose your income you lose the respect of the woman who says she loves you (she never did, obviously).
Let me explain practically. You are used to buying Christmas gifts because you get your salary every month and can afford to do so. Now let me explain again, the private sector is not like that. You are sometimes paid late or not at all. Then your debit orders at the bank crash and you pay penalties and lose your good name and ability to borrow money (a good thing but irksome). Time may come when there is no money for Christmas gifts and birthdays become just another day. It has no meaning to the poor; ask me, I was there after losing my high paying job. You learn this lesson only once and then you realise you don't need gifts anyhow but your kids and loved ones do and you feel the terrible shame of being unable to provide. Don't let your job go, you are not trained to survive in the private sector.
These days I believe the most dangerous thing in the world, to themselves and their families, is the man who got a pay-out. Some get a gratification payment (lump sum) and now they are open game to shysters. All of a sudden your friends and children want to borrow money from you. Strangers want you to invest in their schemes and the banksters also call. They target you as they target widows. Chances are you will lose your money and everything else with it. Don't be stupid, keep your eggs safe and remember, a former bankster manager is the worst person you can ask for advice - he knows even less than you of the real world. Before you do anything, speak to your lawyer. Most have seen the above countless of times and will tell you exactly what I said above.
Koos Kotze is a former member of the South African Police Force. He served between 1985 and 1991 primarily as a sergeant in the Pretoria Flying Squad. After leaving the Police Force he obtained the law degrees B Iuris & LLB at the University of the Free State (Bloemfontein, South Africa) and was a practicing commercial law attorney for eight years. He also wrote several books on business, law, counter terrorism and security issues. He is a widower and lives in Bloemfontein, South Africa.