Thursday, February 7, 2008

2008. Post Apartheid: Fraser Esslemont's 2003-2004 Sunnyside Farm Dispatches

During the following years, I kept up with Fraser's carers by letters and emails. Fraser's curator / administrator paid Fraser's monthly accommodation fees to Maritzburg Mental Health. The fees slowly eroded Fraser's estate which Fraser's curator had built up over the years, derived from the sale of Fraser's (mom's) 22 Chelsea Drive, Durban North, three bedroom home. Although Fraser's curator had invested Fraser's estate for two decades, inflation and Sunnyside Farm fees caused Fraser to become poorer. By 2008, no way could Fraser's estate buy a three bedroom house again, or even a small flat in Durban North.

It was unfair that although Fraser was no longer certified, he paid accommodation fees, yet Maritzburg Mental Health carers used his free labour as a gardener, and his labour was also freely used in Occupational Therapy, which financially benefitted outside contractors. I doubt whether Fraser ever signed an employment contract for free or voluntary work he did at Durban's Addington Hospital, or Maritzburg's Town Hill Hospital, or Maritzburg Mental Health's Sunnyside.

Fraser's October 2003 Sunnyside Farm dispatch: "My apologies for the delay in writing. Tell me more of Jake's art design. I dont know much about it. Luke is really musically minded. Piano & drums. You must be proud of your sons. Things have changed a lot, since we were at school. My congratulations to Leah on lecturing teachers. I think she is doing very well now.

Do you and your family snow ski in the Alps? July must be the right time for skiing. You and Leah will be celebrating 50 years of marriage soon in 2018. Congratulations. [Fraser's time concept was elastic]. What type of camera do you take photos with. It takes very clear snaps. [Minolta SRT 100x].

I've got dad's silver ciggy case, book markers & photos you sent me. Thank you. How many Koreans does Leah teach? They must have dyslexia as well? [No, just holiday ESOL students from Seoul].

Your writing must be getting good for you to win awards. The magazine editor is letting you know. Keep on writing for Indaba. [It didn't last, as Afrikaner editors censored my articles]. Was it the "Blood on the Vine" article?

The gardening book you posted me was probably written by someone with a BSc. He is very well informed. I needed some form of inspiration at this stage, in my gardening career. The book is more than useful.

I think Jake should specialize in subjects in chch tech. Public Relations and advertising & performing arts seem enough to choose from. Not that I know that much about it. Technicon must be better than Varsity. [After school, Jake studied at a local computer graphic design college].

When did you get involved in grape harvesting and winerys? [Raised pocket-money to send Luke on a school exchange trip to Adelaide].

There must be ways of E mailing you. Durban post office would be able to do it for me. Soon Ill be taking leave in Durban. We could make plans for our meeting together in 2010. Its something im looking forward to."

Fraser's undated 2003 Xmas dispatch: "I thought you would like christmas greetings from me. Happy christmas and new year (2004). Ill be thinking of you 4.

Soon Ill be seeing my lawyer in Durban and wishing him merry christmas for 2004. This will be my first major attempt to see how things have changed in this democratic SA. They would have changed from apartheid days. [Fraser seemed to have forgotten his many post apartheid ramblings around Maritzburg and Durban, while certified at Maritzburg's Town Hill Hospital.]

Does the idea of a Mauritian holiday in 2010 appeal to you 4? Ive only [just] heard of the place. It might be the place to meet."

Fraser's mind was fixed on seeing me and my family overseas, without realizing the costs on his small invested estate.

Fraser's March 2003 Sunnyside Farm dispatch: "Im sorry about the subaru van 850cc dieing. You had the van a long time. I hope the Honda 1500cc lasts longer. Bryndwyr is the new district you live in, yet you write of Burnside? [Close suburbs]. Was the side of the hill burnt because of the building of the airport? I notice you had snow on the alps on 20/02/04. The drought must have been very bad.

Thank you for the snaps. You've kept me up to date with your stay in NZ with these photos. I appretaite them. Does Gee still work in a jewellery business in Joburg? If Luke is in std 6, why is he in primary school still?... [Many NZ primary schools include standard 6, year 8].

I hope Leah gets the permanent teaching post at Seabrook in her teaching dyslexic children. She has worked hard enough. [She did].

We must plan a trip to Mauritius as soon as possible. Perhaps 1.1.2010. I would travel by ship from SA. You would have to go to Australia first. Which connecting flight to Mauritius would you have to catch? I really dont know. Ask Al when you see him again. How many children has Al got?

You must use venison (buck meat) for your biltong. What kind of buck? [Red deer in NZ]. Did you work with Springbok, gemsbok & kudu here in SA? I suppose you work with beef also. Let me know your recipe for beef biltong. Here on this Sunnyside Farm, we dont make any biltong at all. When we meet in Mauritius in 1.1.2010 Id like to sample some of your biltong."

Fraser's August 2004 Sunnyside Farm dispatch: "Happy birthday on 8 September. Im sure this letter & birthday card [will] reach you in time, but I did cut it (time) too fine. I think speak to Jake about hotel management. [Jake was working part-time as a kitchen-hand at a Scenic Circles hotel, while studying computer graphic design]. You must be pleased you wont be dads taxi for Luke so much next year. [While living in Burnside, I was driving Luke across town to Oaklands School for Luke to finish primary school there].

2004 Protestors marching down Worcester Boulevard, Christchurch: "No To Racism Yes To Harmony" Rally

I think be careful of taking photos & writing articles on anti asian demonstrators. [Christchurch Asians' 'no to racism yes to harmony' protest along Worcester Boulevard to Christchurch Cathedral Square]. The whole situation in controlling demonstrators can get heated up. Police would have asked to be there. [True: keeping rednecks apart from others].

2004 Cops & Protestors, "No To Racism Yes To Harmony," Christchurch Cathedral Square

Please send me a photo of Seabrook Mckensie centre. The renovations would have been completed by now. [Leah's new classroom]. Leah must be happier about the place. She would have struggled to begin with.

Mark, what have you decided on Maurituous [sic] on 1.1.2010? Can you get away on that date? You live on a island. But Maurituous will be different. You and I will have a lot to talk about. I hope you can do windsurfing. I think I would have to practice windsurfing again."

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

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