There was no welfare system in the Southern Rhodesia of the 40s, so you had to be able to survive by wits alone. For men that meant being prepared to innovate, accepting guidance from authority, and if you were lucky enough to secure a foothold in commerce or government, doing as you were told. For women it meant retaining one's virginity until marriage. A single mother was looked down upon, no matter what the context. To have a child outside of marriage meant that you were charged with bringing up the infant all alone. Without the economic support of the father and husband, your chances of success were very low.
My father's dad was a radio man in a World War 2 support plane that was shot down over one of the great oceans of the world. His mother was left with a small child, at a point in her life when she desperately needed to start over again. What man would have her with another man's child in tow? Tragedies like this were never meant to happen.
She was a strict Catholic, who married a high-ranking government bureaucrat. It was a solution that ought to have worked. The child -- my father -- grew up with strict puritanical and religious ideals of his own. It ought to have worked -- but there was so little money to go around. The mother rejected the catholic church after they refused to baptise her son as "he is adopted." The father had other ideas: "I'm saving my money for the education of my real sons, not the adopted one," he stated to my father on his 16th birthday. It had been a good try -- to have her son accepted into the ranks of those deemed worthy of embrace by polite society. It hadn't turned out as expected.
The son grew up. Got married, despite the manifestation of one or two emotional problems -- losing his temper easily being a major component thereof. He joined the army and pursued a career in teaching printing and photography as a lecturer at the humble technical college situated in the capital of the country. Life was not too bad for a while. He served his religion and his family, doing just what was expected of him, no less. He fulfilled the expectations of army call-ups. He provided for his family. It added up to a reasonable life.
It was in 1979 that everything began to change. The stress that he had been able to hold together started to tear him right apart. First, there was the difficulty in having faith in everything he had believed in. Rhodesia itself was coming apart at the seams -- now, it was Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. His children were no longer precious goods to be kept safe from lurking entities like an irreligious life and communism. Rather, they were hungry mouths to feed. Their fates, without a system to believe in, were now undecided.
It was all coming apart. And nobody realised it but he. They couldn't see how much he would be actually losing. It was again, painfully unjust. The priest who had put him together the first time wasn't there to counsel his mind and soul into alignment. Now there was only godless communism. And mouths to feed.
He decided Jenny had gained a distinctly mocking tone in her voice when she told him all her friends were 'taking the gap' -- leaving the country. Although she was only twelve and hadn't had much to do with him, she seemed to be mocking his very situation, the overturning of everything he had believed in (which is what regime change meant). She would certainly have to pay for her mockery by being taught some serious lessons about who was boss. Her friends were going overseas and a new period of life would begin as she moved from primary school to high school. Politics has never interested her, because it had never been explained to her in detail.
He was mad as can be. There was the other thing too. Women were not capable of having much intelligence, and were just these soppy and expressionistic characters who relied all the time on 'feelings'. He realised that Jenny could never be trusted after a certain point in her development. She would change over to the 'other side', where genuine perceptions and good will would have no place. It was up to him to keep her down so that she didn't bring great shame to him when this big change suddenly took place. He was starting to feel it deep within himself already -- that her feelings were not really perceptual feelings of the world around her, but mushy, irrelevant feelings about nothing in particular. That is how women were. Larry Christensen had informed him in his books that women were fickle beings who needed to be hit -- a lot -- to bring them into line with reason. When she communicated with him, he knew that actually she wasn't saying anything -- except expressing some nonsensical ideas that females do, about nothing. That is what she was saying to him right now when she pretended that she had no friends left in Rhodesia to send her Christmas cards to. Now she was saying nothing and she was deliberately trying to antagonize him by keeping quiet.
He would have to teach her a lesson: that having attitudes of any sort would not come cheap. He shouted at her to get out of his sight. So she ran and hit behind a car in fear, and waited.
Children these days didn't understand the cost of freedom -- but his daughter was necessarily becoming, out of the changes wrought by her biology, his enemy. Like the situation in the country, she was now out of control. The latest turn of political events had become unbearable to him. That he could not easily forgive.