Monday 29th October 2012, found us at Marinda's stately home in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg. Ray (my hubby) was there to do some carpentry work in their laundry area; I was there just to chat and catch up on events. Ray had picked up a few snags along the way, so we were still there as evening fell - much later than we had anticipated.
Marinda is one of Nicky's (our eldest daughter) "oldest" friends. They have been friends for eighteen or more years, so Marinda is like another daughter to us. She kindly fetches Shenay (our granddaughter, who had lost her Mommy to cancer almost five months earlier) from school, feeds her and takes care of her until Nicky can fetch her after work. Nicky had taken on the mammoth task of single-handedly raising her sister's only child.
Marinda's birthday is on Halloween, so Nicky had decided to give Marinda a full "do" with her nails, nail art -- the works! (Nicky is a nail technician in her spare time.) Marinda had also invited Nicky and Shenay for supper that evening. Well, the upshot of all this was we were still there when Nicky arrived after work.
Marinda suggested that Nicky set out her "tools of the trade" on the antique dining-room table. Shenay stood by, ready to hand anything needed to her new "mum". I sat there watching and chatting to the girls.
Now, Marinda's home is old but has been updated in many ways while still retaining a basic old-fashioned look. One of the new innovations was the ceiling of the dining room, with lots of little "spot-light" globes sunk into the ceiling.
Just before Nicky was to start on Marinda's nails, her young son came to the dining room door to ask his Mom something. Marinda excused herself while she attended to her son's problem. Seconds after Marinda had vacated the room, some of the tiny lights on the ceiling went out (?) Nicky and I looked at each other with raised eyebrows but never spoke a word.
Shortly afterwards, Marinda returned, taking her place at the table. Nicky started prepping Marinda's nails, when suddenly all the lights came on again. Nicky, glancing over the emery-board at Marinda, said in a half question, half statement sort of way, "You have ghosts in the house!?" Marinda just smirked, replying, "Well, we know who they are, don't we!"
Friday 17th May 2013, saw us back at Marinda's house, this time to collect Shenay for the weekend. We had arrived a bit too early, and Marinda had not yet returned from the schools with the children. Her maid/nanny came out the front gate to deposit the garbage for collection, saw us sitting the car, and invited us in.
While Ray and I sat in the large antique-looking kitchen sipping coffee, the maid went about her chores. I sat near the kitchen door that led to the long passageway, which had polished wood strip floorboards, covered with carpet runners. The door is always kept closed to keep the dogs from roaming the beautiful home, but I noticed that when the back door to the outside was opened or shut, the door next to me rattled with the compression.
The maid was outside, hanging up washing. Inexplicably, the door next to me rattled but with a somewhat different sound. It caught my attention, and I swiveled my head to the right and watched mesmerised as the brass handle moved creakily down a tad, stopped, and then back up into place. I glanced to my left, noticing that Ray was also witnessing the movement of the handle. For a split second, we both sat there with expressions of surprise on our faces. I swiftly jumped up and opened the door, thinking that Marinda had returned with the children, unheard by us - although we had heard no footsteps in the passage. Usually, footsteps in the passage make a hollow sort of clunking sound. I looked up and down the passage: not a soul in sight! I shut the door and sat down again, very perplexed.
About twenty minutes later, we heard children's laughter and chatter coming from the bottom of the garden. The security gate into the back courtyard crashed open; then Marinda and kids came tumbling into the kitchen - all happy to be home.
We couldn't wait to impart our experience to Marinda, but had to wait until the children were out of earshot. Marinda didn't seem at all surprised or perturbed by our tale, but she was intrigued. We wondered who it might possibly be - but Marinda wasn't telling! She just smiled her enigmatic smile and left us to draw our own conclusions...