Of course, everyone wants to be let in on a secret, especially if it is a woman who regrets a thing or two. If Only I Knew is a monologue of women stuck in the spiral of abuse and rejection.
South African actress Sharleen Surti Richards, who played Nenna in Egoli as well as Fiela Komoeti in Fiela’s Child, just knows how to entertain her audience . . . oh make no mistake, we cried a lot just as much as we rolled with laugher.
Nicolas’ wife who doubles as an inexperienced midwife who delivered, the main character in the play, Sarah, narrates the story of the small girl.
The naughty woman who calls her husband a ‘shoddy excuse for a fore-skin’, also tells us about Sarah’s mother, Rachel, who never wanted her.
Born on a sunny day into the cradle of a sandbag in a dusty and crowded backyard, little Sarah changed homes like most change underwear.
Rachel really didnt want Sarah and gave her away to Kobus who adored her but his wife, with swollen ankles and who loved feathered hats, never really loved the new daughter.
Little foster child, Sarah was spoilt rotten by her new parents but was soon betrayed by life and trotted her way through a tapestry of sweet and sour experiences. Just 18 years with a mind filled to its brim with innocence, she got pregnant and ended up on the streets.
Imagine yourself pregnant at 18 and your parents tell you that they had adopted you but no longer want you. “Yes, mother left me in the doctor’s examination room and changed the locks at home.”
Sarah shocked us when she explained how aunt Sheila pushed a steel wire up her vagina to induce an abortion. And later alone in the toilet of the liitle park she had now made her home, the still born came and she lifted out of the toilet pot and carried it in athe pocket of a wornout dress for one day before burying it in a shallow grave behind the toilet.
Then the handsome Nicolas made his way into Sarah’s heart, got her pregnant and soon walked her down the aisle in a purple knitted dress with her hair pulled back in a beehive like Amy Winhouse’s.
Oh, Lord but that steel wire left a rusty scratch and Sarah lost a second baby and then a third.
Nicolas’ love dried up when Sarah told him that their fourth baby would not be born. He consequently started to ‘jol’, and staying out late but worse, he started “touch’ her.
First just because he would be drunk and felt like pushing her and leave her with bruises and swollen eyes.
She couldn’t leave Nicolas as he was all she ever had. So Sarah stayed because brother Nicolas was not so bad after all. He was a leader in the church and he gave her everything but yes, he touched (beat) her real hard.
Sarah would visit the Canal Walk Mall where she befriended the security guards. She consoled herself with all the cake she could find in the mall. Sales ladies allowed her to try on all the dresses first and she was happy and fat but after five o’clock, Nicolas would be waiting for her with all the love he could give her.
“When they closed the gates at Canal Walk Mall, my throat also closed because I had to go home to all the ‘touching’.”
And one night he ‘touched’ her on the head and Sarah woke up in heaven, where she met God, a wonderful woman.
Yes, Sarah says God is a woman who loves music and has a soft spot for battered women.