Bernard’s answer

By Johannes Adriaan Snyman

It was one of those peaceful evenings again. Outside the farm house, the hot humid air filled the heart of every living creature, and the low-veld quietness would have overwhelmed anybody taking a stroll in the moonlight.

The energy inside the homestead however proved to be quite the opposite. At least to Bernard Langford that was.

Bernard found himself at his writing desk in his bedroom, putting forth every attempt to write a letter which was due for some time now. His attention was with the light hearted conversation at the dining table though. The voices were that of his uncle and aunt stopping over for the night on their way to Swaziland. Accompanying them was two missionary friends of theirs, Johan and Magda, who thought it wise to make themselves at home in Bernard’s residence for the duration of the evening.

By entertaining his tiresome, almost unwanted guests for the most part of the afternoon, Bernard felt that he fulfilled his duty and retired to his room for a while before dinner. He couldn’t evade them for too long, as the dishes were being brought in and to make the guests wait would have been very rude.

From what he heard, the conversation ran in the lines of interesting places to visit in the area and the missionaries work as evangelists closer to the border. Neither a topic of interest to Bernard, and so it didn’t take much effort to let the dialogue run its due course.

And it was sort of pleasant and comfortable. Bernard didn’t say much and everyone around the table delighted themselves in expressing their different opinions over various topics.

After dinner the coffee was brought in and the prospect of a calm and undisturbed evening was insight. Bernard had a nice book in mind, and would, for the remainder of the evening, be doing a fair amount of reading.

And then it happened.

The question aimed right at his heart. Bernard didn’t know whether Magda, as well-intentioned as a missionary can be, asked the question just out of curiosity, or if she just thought the discussion needed to change to a more sinister direction. But she did ask. And whether it was his imagination or not, Bernard did detect a hint of sarcasm around the corners of her mouth. The tone, in which she conveyed her speech, was without a doubt in dire need of some optimism.

“Bernard,” she said. “Do you have someone in your life at the moment? Do you not think it is about time for you to start thinking about getting married? It must be really lonely on the farm here all by yourself.”

The thoughts flashed like lightening through Bernard’s mind. ‘…about time?’ she has the nerve to tell him ‘It’s about time!’

As good mannered as he is, Bernard stayed calm and paused for a moment, very carefully formulating his words.

All eyes were on him, and for a moment he hesitated, but then the words started flowing from his mouth, as firm and as full of authority as he looked Magda straight in the eyes and said;.

“To answer that question, I’ll have to start by telling you about a certain lady. This lady goes by the name of Bryarly Thompson. She has blond hair and a beautiful smile. We liked each other since the day we met, and understood each other in a very unique way. During our two year relationship, we never fought. Not once. We had a couple of arguments but we respected each other so much, and forgave each other so quickly, that fighting never occurred. At first I thought it might be a problem, because couples do fight occasionally, but later realized that it is not at all a defect in the relationship.

I loved her with all my heart, and when I would come back from a journey abroad, she would greet me with bucket loads of tears. We would hold each other so tight and not let go. We truly loved each other. She was a real lady in more ways than I could ever mention.

She was slightly shy and had an excellent sense of humor. Her intelligence was of the highest degree and her writing resembles that of superb creativity, professionalism and perfection.

She had a special love for cats and we had a mutual interest in many aspects including books, films and writing. There was also a big difference in many of our interests, and one might even say that the contrast in our personalities was of such a nature that we do not belong together at all.

And in fact, there were people that informed me that we do not actually belong together, upon which I ask myself the question, ‘why is it then that I remember more good times then bad?’ And believe you me, bad times there was.

You see, I wanted a better life in Christ, and it was then that a man of God told me that my relationship with Bryarly was holding me back from my true desire. And I believed him. I still do.

The relationship was that of a sinful nature. I prayed to be relieved from the bondage of sin and God relieved me of this burden. Bryarly and I were separated. And that brings me to the answer to your question, Magda. First of all, I have not, in the past two years, met any lady, with a spark of connection, not even remotely, in areas regarding emotion, intellect, love, physical desire, humor and wit, brightness in personality and strength in character, as was the case with Bryarly.

And secondly, it is God who answered my prayer, by freeing me from sin. It is God who enables me to be telling you this story tonight. Is God not then able to provide me a wife with whom I can share the same, if not more, goodness and fullness I had with Bryarly? Is it not to God then to whom I turn my prayers and Him who fulfill my every need?

My answer to you, Magda is this in that I’ll advise you to not open your mouth any longer than you’ve done already. Do not speak of matters you know nothing of, for anything you further more utter regarding these issues, will only result in the very overtly display of your foolishness.”

Complete silence filled the room.

Not a single word was said until the following morning when the company departed.