vrijdag 12 november 2010
Tonight is the fundraising diner for Congolese women. We assemble at the castle. The party consists of people from the US, Great Britain, China and the Netherlands. Each and every attendent works a high paid job at some big organisation or as owner of a company. We’re connected through work, keeping the other ones’ salary on level.
Everybody is dressed to the MAX. It may be a fundraising for a good cause; we still want to get something out of it for ourselves, so better look your best for a fine networking evening.
Wives-of bought new dresses. They look surprisingly similar, all according to the latest fashion, which is rather down coloured on beige and brown (natures colours) and civil looking. No outrageous red, green or orange in tonights’ dresses.
We enter the diner and find our names on papers formed like airplanes on the plates. A little joke by the gerent.
The meal starts. Eight courses. We perceive this as normal, after all we are eating for Congolese women at 300 Euro a person. A small reward may be expected.
For me, I sit next to an English couple, the husband to my right, his wife to my left. She looks like anything one would a British woman want to look like: sensible. Sensible hair, not too long, neither too short, easy when you are in a hurry to get to the office at mornings. She wears a likewise sensible dress, not too expensive, not too seductive (as a matter of fact not seductive at all), easy to wash and wear, and: decently appropriate for any occasion. She is kind of tiny and her beige and grey clothes make her look like a mouse from the attic of an abandoned house.
She refuses the champagne. He takes two glasses. I notice that during the meal she drinks but water, while her husband, on my right, drinks for the two of them. I wonder why she doesn’t drink a drop of the delicious alcoholic beverages they are offering.
As the diner evolves the guests start to act more informal towards each other. Finally I dare to pose her the question that’s been on my mind all evening. ‘Oh,’ she replies, ‘It is quite simple. I used to be an alcoholic, beating up my husband all the time.’ The rest of the table falls quiet. ‘What is she saying?’ a deaf guy asks loudly. ‘Sssh, I tell you later,’ his wife bats his hand. My English neighbour doesn’t seem to notice. She goes on: ‘One day he ended up in the hospital and me, I was arrested for domestic violence. It is better I don’t drink.’
The husband takes another sip of his Burgundy. ‘He drinks for the two of us now,’ she explains in a gaily manner. His hiccup loudly announces dessert, while the organizing committee thanks everybody for so generously supporting Congolese women.