The Biblical kombi
Are you one of those people that hum along with nostalgia when you hear the new kombi’s advertising jingle? For it brings back a flood of memories.
Irecently caught my father and brother with their noses pressed against the windows of the new model kombi in a parking lot in Hermanus. They looked like love-struck schoolboys. My dad has always been a Volksie-man. The problem was that, although my dad was mad about Volksies, they were not so mad about him. In all fairness, with four children in the house, shiny new cars weren’t exactly at the top of the priority list, and most of the vehicles we had were relatively (cough, cough) “experienced” by the time they found themselves parked in our driveway. So, when our rust bucket of a Volksie station wagon had been driven to its limits, and my father grew tired of the fighting in the back seat over which two of the four of us children would get to sit by the windows, he came home one day with a kombi instead, and threw his arms triumphantly into the air. Because, with two rows of seats for the passengers, it meant that each kid could sit by their own window in the kombi! It was a dream car, in creamy white with brown quasi-leather seats. Besides that, I and my older sister won the draw with my brothers, getting the exclusive rights to sit on the back seat. Yay! to start humming the jingle of the Volkswagen advert and to end it here, with a picture of relaxed and happy family holidays deep in the bundus. But the truth was that the creamy white dream car was an ancient, crippled nightmare of a vehicle. It often broke down. And in accordance with Murphy’s Law, it never broke down at a convenient spot. We found ourselves stuck at every thinkable (and unthinkable) place. Three Sisters in the Karoo. The Kruger Park. Golden Gate. Sir Lowry’s Pass. And that was in the days before cellphones. But my dad was a duct-tape-and-Coke-mechanic (the Coke was sprinkled over the battery when the contact points had packed up and needed to be corroded clean – and it worked, which makes one worry about the condition of a Coke-drinkers stomach). But even these crises couldn’t dampen his enthusiasm. My dad was besotted with that unreliable kombi, even when the Engelbrechts, like the Israelites of old, regularly arrived at a place either with a pillar of smoke or a pillar of fire. The last straw was when my older sister had to go to university at Maties, and on that first Sunday afternoon, the Kombi packed up with a spectacular ball of smoke, a good distance away from her residence. We had to carry all her first-year baggage the last halfkilometre to the res. You should have seen the house committee’s faces! (In fact, she was so traumatised by this event that she kept studying until she became an oncologist). That night, after we saw the new model kombi for the first time in the parking lot in Hermanus, my brother mumbled to himself, wondering whether he could afford the new model because he “wants to show his three kids the country.” I could see how he was doing the sums in his mind. Well, at least Volkswagen hit the nail on the head with their advertising slogan: “For journeys to remember.” Because when you drive a kombi, an unforgettable journey is guaranteed.