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Open Features: Petronella Falls In Love

...Sannie rushed to the phone.

“Willem, you must come quickly, man. Your mother is changing into a hippopotamus!”...

Marianne Hall bring us another chuckle-filled Petronella story.

He winked at her. He actually winked at her.

In that moment Petronella’s heart did a complete somersault and she felt her pulse go “stumble-thump”.

Not that he was anything to look at. His pregnant stomach, over which a South Seas island T-shirt protruded, khaki shorts and a pair of takkies full of mud, wisps of hair stuck out from an egg-shaped head, his nose stuck out like a cherry - she took it all in.

Petronella was at the supermarket. She tried to manoeuvre herself up close to him in the queue, but a big fat woman blocked her way, steely eyes boring right through her.

“I was here first,” she bellowed. “Get back into the queue.”

Petronella was about to give a retort but she thought better of it.

“Fatso!” she muttered, giving her what she hoped was a withering look. She glanced around for sympathy but got none. Everyone was annoyed that she had tried to jump the queue. By the time she got to the till, the man had disappeared.

Petronella arrived home all in a flutter. She felt like a bubble, sort of floating along, her mind somewhere in the land of fantasy.

She stared at herself in the mirror and was totally disgusted at the apparition facing her. She had just had a perm and her hair had gone all “kroesie”. Closer examination revealed a thick moustache. The dark blotches on her face reminded her of furrowed mealie fields.

She decided to tackle the moustache first. She found a few razors, some already rusted, most completely blunt. However, one razor looked promising.

“Nou, Ja.” Gingerly holding the razor, she drew herself up in front of the bathroom mirror and applied the blade to her upper lip. The blade settled into the dense bush and it took some effort to loosen it. What was needed was lubrication.

Sunlight soap soon had a frothy lather going.

“That’s better,” said Petronella as she scraped away.

Soon the lather had a dark pink bloody hue.

At the Five Rand shop she peered through her glasses looking for some hair dye. A glamorous blonde with long curly locks beckoned from a box. Petronella popped it into her basket. The face lightener presented a problem. However, the Black assistant soon got the message.

The directions on the box were difficult to read, some portions had been torn away. She brought the box closer – it was definitely time to see an optician. Obviously everything had to be mixed together. So into a dish went the shampoo, the colour and the conditioner. Fancy gloves, she thought, pulling them on. She applied the mixture to her hair. Some of it ran down her forehead and into her eyes.

“Gonnas!” The stuff was making her blind. Now not only was her hair coloured but also her neck and ears. She peered again at the instructions on the box. “Leave for 2…….”, the rest was obliterated. Probably two hours reasoned Petronella, better longer than shorter then she would get her money’s worth.

She dabbed the face lightener on to the offending spots.

Petronella was exhausted, she had been busy for hours. So she decided to take a kit-kat. She wrapped a towel around her hair and nestled under the soft eiderdown. Soon she was away to the world.

A loud tapping at the door awoke her.

“My hemel, vrou! What happened to you?” exclaimed her friend Sannie, aghast.

Petronella put her hand up to her face. She itched all over. As she tried to speak she felt herself swelling up. Her arms were full of little raised bumps, her lips felt like balloons.

Sannie rushed to the phone.

“Willem, you must come quickly, man. Your mother is changing into a hippopotamus!”

Twenty minutes later they were at the doctor. Petronella still had the towel around her head.

Willem put the empty boxes on the desk.

“You have an allergy,” said the doctor, pushing the needle slowly into her vein.

“Eina! That’s sore,” she moaned through swollen lips.

When the towel was removed tufts of yellow hair clung to it, leaving gaps in her skull resembling craters on the moon.

Willem and the doctor were very impolite. They both burst out laughing. She would reprimand Willem later for using the Lord’s name in vain. The doctor gave him a script with instructions to “keep the old lady out of mischief.” It was the “old lady” bit that really annoyed her.

Willem packed her into his car and took her home with him. Stella was very annoyed. Having her mother-in-law in the house was always something of a trial.

It took three days before her face was back to normal. By then Petronella was completely “ontnugtered”. Men were simply not worth it.


Little did she know that the source of all her problems had a condition “Blepharospasm – a focal dystonia” causing twitching or blinking of the eyelids.

AFRIKAANS; My Hemel Good Heavens
Gonnas Jeepers
Ontnugtered Disallusioned

©Marianne Hall 2013


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