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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Spring (the season) (07/23/09)

TITLE: Jacaranda Blossoms
By Corinne Smelker


She awoke slowly, aware of the quiet swish of cars as they drove down the hill past her home. The crackle of Jacaranda blooms exploding under the tyres caused her to smile. Such pretty purple blooms, fragile and yet resilient. This was her favourite time of year — late October, spring just cresting into summer.

Letsha enjoyed her morning cup of coffee on the quiet back patio, overlooking her lush, verdant garden. She heard the trill of the ‘Piet-my-vrou’ and the laugh of the neighbourhood children as they waited for the bus further down the hill. I must call Tembo today,” she thought.

Tembo…she remembered the moment he was born. It was etched forever in her mind. Geographically, Soweto was only 60 kilometres from where she now lived, but in every other respect it was light-years away. She remembered smelling those same Jacaranda blossoms while in labour, and being pleased that she was going to avoid the Christmas heat by delivering in the spring. The corrugated iron roof and sides of the shanty she shared with Tembo’s father Ndumiso, and his family did little to repel the heat. It did little to repel anything, especially the extreme poverty.

“Work hard Letsha,” her mother encouraged. “You can make a difference. You are clever, and you have chances I never had.” And she was right, Letsha smiled. After Temba’s birth, both she and Ndumiso went back to school, two of the first black students accepted at Wits on full scholarships. The 1990s were kind to them. For the first time since apartheid had been formally abolished could she apply for a job and stand a chance of getting it. After receiving her law degree from Wits, she applied to the prestigious Pretorius, Johannsson Law Firm in Pretoria. Mr. Pretorius himself interviewed her, and declared himself thrilled to bring such a bright new mind into the firm.

Letsha rested her head on the back of her chair, tilting her face to the early morning sun. Those were good years. But she knew there were greater things on the horizon for her. It was not long before she was tapped to be circuit judge; and it was only a meteoric rise from there.

She glanced down at her watch and realised it was time to get a move on. She took her coffee cup to the kitchen, picked up her briefcase and handbag and locked her house. As she walked down the front garden path, she turned back for one final look at what she now called home — an Arts and Crafts style bungalow, with a wrap-around verandah surrounded by luxurious greenery, something she never saw in the dusty, red soil of Soweto. The first time she brought her mother to the house, she wept. “Our people have cleaned these houses and tended these gardens for so long. But now we live in these homes. Letsha, I am so proud of you!”

Letsha closed the garden gate behind her, picked an overhanging lilac bloom and placed it in her lapel. Jacaranda blooms fell in her hair, and carpeted the pavement as she walked up the hill to the Union Buildings, the seat of South Africa’s government.

“Good morning Attorney General,” the guard greeted her as she came in through the door. “Lovely morning, isn’t it? I love how spring makes everything new!”
“Yes Frank, it is a beautiful day,” she smiled as she brushed the stubborn Jacaranda blossoms from her hair, ready to start the day with South Africa's newly-elected cabinet.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/30/09
I liked the way you wove the jacarinda blossoms into the story. It was springtime for the nation in more than one way, which you illustrated excellently. (I wondered though what happened to the MC's husband.)
Lynda Schultz 07/30/09
A fascinating bit of history as a base for a story about spring—very creative.
Mona Purvis07/30/09
Different and very interesting. What hit me the most is how the MC doesn't take God's blessings for granted. Sometimes when we "make it", we forget about how wonderful these things God has blessed us with really are. Enjoyed this POV.