Day of surprises 2

A Family Affair by Bernard Preston

Day of surprises 2 as a very pregnant Janet escapes from the City of Gold.




They passed the old library, and then the home of her best friend. It looked deserted. They, why did she not think it, as was conventional? Was it a boy, or a girl? He, or perhaps a she if her instincts were wrong, would also be born in High Whytten. 

The entrance to her old school, where both she and her mother had been the head prefect looked unchanged, and the large sign still irritated her; St Catherines was still spelt without an apostrophe. She had an urgent need to pee as she turned into their street, wondering what her parents were going to say. Of course she spoke to them every week on the phone, but one way or another she had managed to avoid telling them about the rape or her pregnancy without actually lying; or about Santie. Several times they had suggested driving to Johannesburg but she had managed to put them off.

Would she ever really be ready? Is one ever ready to tell about rape? Obviously Jenny had kept her promise, and they were still none the wiser.




The driveway gate was closed, and she climbed heavily out of the cramped little car. Their Staffordshire terrier rushed the gate, barking crazily. He was not normally given to raising a ruckus, one of the silent but deadly types that South Africans favour, but the intelligent dog had not forgotten his mistress. She bent down awkwardly and patted him, and he immediately leapt into her vehicle and onto the passenger seat. Climbing wearily back in, Janet parked near the front door.

Janet could see her father in the side mirror coming out to see what the commotion was about, a puzzled look on his face. They were private people, and not many folk arrived unannounced.

Janet saw him stop with a start, recognising the familiar figure; one of the twins. A very pregnant young woman so it couldn’t be Jenny.

He called urgently to his wife; ‘You’d better come, Barbara. It’s Janet.’


A family affair reveals the Mums.

Day of surprises 2

Day of surprises 2 finds Janet just longing to be with Mum and Dad; they still don't know.


He moved forward to greet his daughter, uncertain what to say. Why hadn’t she told them? Couldn’t she trust them to understand when they found out they had an unwed pregnant daughter? He brushed a tear off his cheek. Every parent has a favourite child, Henry once confided in his sister-in-law, the trick being that neither they, nor the other children, should ever find out. He had missed Janet terribly, unable to understand why she had been keeping him at arm’s length. He rushed forward, taking his daughter in his arms. Janet too was wiping her eyes, putting her arms around her father’s neck and hugging him as best she could, knowing her baby could only keep them physically apart.

‘Surprise! Daddy,’ she cried, lamely, clutching her father. Janet’s mother came dashing out of the front door, knocking over an Easter lily in full bloom in her haste. Both of them had instinctively known that something was happening to Janet. They had thought her evasions must be to do with matters of the heart, but other than a few references to a young man called Anton, Janet had given them no further clue. Barbara stopped, dead in her tracks, and stared. ‘Janet! You’re …’

‘Yes, Mum. Eight months pregnant!’

‘No!’

‘Yes!’

Barbara reached out to her daughter, the three of them clutching each other in the driveway, Janet luxuriating in their unconditional love. No matter what, Barbara thought, they were going to be grandparents again. Soon!

Maxi was rushing round and round in circles, quite mad, and Barbara found herself saying: ‘I’ll put the kettle on, and then you can tell us everything. Henry, don’t just stand there! Bring Janet’s cases in.’ Janet unlocked the boot of the car, fetched her leather coat from the back seat and then came round and helped her father with the luggage. They gave each other another hug.

‘I can’t believe it; you’re going to have a baby, and quite soon if I know anything.’ He gently caressed her belly, walking together arm in arm, dumping Janet’s two small cases in the foyer.

‘We’re going to be shopping,’ beamed Barbara. ‘No baby clothes in those little cases.’




Within a few minutes they were seated around the little oak table in the kitchen. Nothing had changed. Her father was scratching for biscuits in the pantry and her mother was pouring tea.

Janet loved her mother’s pure Ceylon. It was such a chore getting rid of the tea leaves, but she decided again, after the first mouthful, that it was worth the effort.

‘So, you’re home.’

‘Home? I’m not sure where that is any more, Dad.’

‘Home is where you hang up your hat, silly.’

‘Well, that’s been in Johannesburg for the last three years.’

‘And now?’ her mother asked. ‘Are you going to stay for Christmas?’

Janet shrugged her shoulders. ‘If you’ll have me for the next few weeks I would definitely like to hang up my hat on the old rack in the hallway.’ There were smiles all round, followed by an expectant pause. ‘Mom, Dad, I’ve got some difficult things to tell you, and I want you to hear me out before you say a word.’

She took a deep breath, followed by a large gulp of tea and then told them the whole story, starting with her secret betrothal to Anton, of which they had an inkling, even though there was no formal engagement, and then how she had been desecrated on the beach. Finally she shared with them the repulsion she now felt when men entered her space, and how she had broken up with Anton.

‘How?’ Barbara was white, her hand against her mouth. ‘Your boss?’

Janet raised her hand. ‘There’s more.’ After a moment she went on: ‘It was a terrible time. I came near to … to finishing it all. Sleeping tablets. But Santie … Santie has been the best friend that anybody could ever ask for. Mom, Dad, I don’t know how to say this …’

They knew of course that Janet had a flat-mate and had spoken to Santie many times on the phone, and they had met her once or twice. They stared at her, uncomprehending.

‘We have done simply everything together for three years. I eventually realised that Santie is the person I want to share my life with. We love each other, Mom, Dad.’ She turned from one to the other, desperately hoping for their approval, or at least not outright condemnation.

‘You mean …’ said her father.

‘Yes, I mean. We are lovers.’

‘But this young man?’

‘I loved him too, Dad, but not like I love Santie. And since that monster raped me on the beach … I’m terrified of men, Mom. I get the cold shivers when a man comes near me! I couldn’t, I mean I could never have a man. Never!’

They were silent. Eventually Henry asked, ‘And now you are going to have this monster’s baby?’

Janet nodded. ‘I know it doesn’t make sense, everybody has told me, but I can’t bring myself to stamp out this little baby’s life. It’s not its fault that it was brought into the world in this vulgar way and I’m going to love it as best I can. Santie and I can’t have babies obviously, so I think this little child was sent to make us into a real family. Santie hasn’t come to terms with it yet, but I know it’s for the best.’

They talked and talked, eventually having a supper. Barbara dug a tub of baked beans cooked in a spicy tomato sauce to add to scrambled eggs, sprinkled with parsley, on toast. Janet had to go down on her knees to pick it in the garden, whilst Maxi licked her ears. She loved the smell of the freshly plucked herb as she washed and chopped it, carefully cutting out the larger stalks. ‘I’m exhausted,’ she finally said. ‘Do you mind if I go to bed now.’

‘How long have you come home for, darling?’ her mother asked. Janet hesitated. ‘I’m not sure, maybe till the baby is born … if you’ll have me? Maybe longer.’

Long after all the lights in the house were out, Henry said to his wife: ‘Why didn’t she tell us? Didn’t she think we would understand?’

‘Do you understand, Henry? I don’t!’

‘No, I don’t suppose I do. Well, why has she come home then?’

‘Where else does a woman go, stupid, when she’s going to have a baby born out of wedlock?’

‘To where she feels safe, I suppose.’

‘Exactly.’


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Useful links


Nutrition during pregnancy

Nutrition during pregnancy is even more important for Janet than before, only more so because of the rapidly dividing cells. Whilst Bernard Preston doesn't raise the subject in A Family Affair, it's nevertheless vital for every woman of childbearing age.

No where is this more important than vitamin B6, or pyridoxine. A deficiency causes anemia but, even more importantly, a very serious spinal cord anomaly called spina bifida; freshly squeezed orange juice is a large part of the prevention.

The scary part is that the spinal cord is being formed even before you know you are pregnant. Every woman who could fall pregnant should every day be eating the best source; green leafy vegetables.

It's a water soluble vitamin, and thus not stored in the body; daily dietary intake is vital. Growing lettuce is so simple.

Growing lettuc is Bernard Preston's passion

This one square metre patch, 3'x3', has kept us in fresh lettuce for nearly three months; dinkum. We just pluck enough leaves every day for a green salad and lettuce wraps recipes for the grandchildren.

As you can see a few plants are beginning to bolt. Here's the next generation just coming up. Growing lettuce is so easy.

They do need to be watered regularly in hot weather.


Growing lettuce provides sufficient B6.

Women in love

Women in love may not be a subject of your liking; it's wasn't for Bernard Preston until a profound dream made him reconsider.

Women in love in A Family Affair

The Bostonians is the first book of the a family affair trilogy; Santie and Janet are sexually abused, and find solace in each others' arms.

Santie's father and Jan Jansen are the villains of the peace.


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