The Wife’s Choice

Our mother’s voice is very often the strongest, and for good or bad, we hear it deeply within us, the loudest voice of all. It took me 48 years to learn that my Ma is not always right, for I was 48 years old before I learned that for life to function beautifully, there has to be balance, equality and a beautiful status quo.

When I was young, my Ma used to tell us that she had enough love for EVERYONE. There was no need to fight for it, there was no need to ‘keep accounts’ and there was no need to feel the lack. She had enough for all.

When I was an angst-ridden teenager, I used to argue with her, ‘You love Daddy more than he loves you” and she would reply peacefully, “I love him enough for two, dear, so it doesn’t matter who loves who more.”

In Catching Infinity, the wife Karin van Achterberg loved her husband PW Vanderleyden ‘enough for two’ too. She loved him deeply, loyally and with great patience: she stayed at home and raised their three sons whilst he played at being the ‘great’ Professor. In truth, he was just a mediocre man who believed too much in his own publicity. But she, The Wife, was always there when he came home, ever ready to listen about his work though it bored her to death. She did not give a damn about Fibonacci numbers or the Grand Universal Theory, but nonetheless she quietly listened to his monologue. He never once asked her about her day because he was so full of his own self-importance. Thus, he never appreciated how she had grown in their 17 years of marriage and after 17 years, he had forgotten too that he had once been passionate about her, that he had involuntarily sank down to his knees at the altar on their wedding day in gratitude to God that this beautiful woman would take a gawky farm boy like him to be her husband.

How many Karin Van Achterbergs are there in the real world?

I intentionally set the story in a homestead deep in the South African veld, in a place where women do not walk out on their marriages. Karin’s husband had hurt her immeasurably, but she took it stoically. Being religious, she saw the suffering as her cross to bear. Love will triumph in the end, she told herself. She believed that, totally.

What made Karin’s story poignant was the fact that she was the only child and she was so loved by her old parents. They treated her like a Princess and taught her only about the good things in life. This wasn’t the suffering they envisaged for their beloved daughter.

When I started writing Catching Infinity, Karin was just a secondary character but as the story developed, I began to feel an affinity for her. She became the women I have known in my life and parts of her became me. I wanted to reach into the story and tell her (oh, so many times), “Karin, leave this man. He is not worth it. You can walk out of an abusive relationship, girl, do it.”

As a devout Catholic, I live my faith through Karin. But as a yogi, I believe in balance, equality and a beautiful status quo as eschewed in a beautiful balancing pose. When all is on balance, you catch fire inside. It is a liberation, a jivamukti. And as a yogi, I celebrate being alive, not being killed by life.  Here’s to putting life into your days, not days into your life.



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