The click I am referring to is not the sound this rather poor attempt English makes at onomatopoeia. It is the sound made when the isiXhosa word qongqothwane is correctly pronounced. Listen carefully as to how that oh-so-grand lady Miriam Makeba does it in a number made famous as The Click Song.

It is also the sound of a seven-iron making perfect contact with a golf ball. Which is what occurred mere nanoseconds before the moment captured by my mother in this photo taken in the days when one had to load film into a camera. It shows the follow-through of the approach shot to the final green on my one day of lady club championship glory long ago. Later, I told my mother that I did not even have to look up after I had made that shot because of the “click” effect; I knew it was good. I said how I wished there was a tangible place to store such moments. She smiled as she always did when she was at least one step ahead of me and told me much to my surprise that she had got it on film.

The world is full of people making click moments. It is true that a lot of them happen on the sports field: the moment when a hockey stick stops a ball dead in its tracks; when the ball connects with the sweet spot on a cricket bat; the thwack of a well-hit tennis ball; the reverberations as the basketball goes through the hoop and that tiny splash as feet disappear into water at the finish of a perfect 10 dive.

Click moments are experienced by all involved in the split second a conductor marks the end of an orchestral performance. Singers feel it in the imperceptible gap between the end of the song’s last triumphant note and their first subsequent inhalation of breath. Artists and architects find it in the synchronicity of form and the deft creation of a line; poets find it in the collocation of image and cadence. Cathedrals impart it with their echoes. The hum of the engine sounds good to mechanics, and accountants balance the books.

Some click moments may not involve excellence, but are perfection itself: fresh air at the first glimpse of sunrise, twilight, moonlight and stillness.

When I am translating and I am “in the zone”, my typing has less to do with the keyboard than it does with what I imagine it must be like to be a concert performer playing a piano concerto. It is in those moments following such pure focus of energy – in the experience of that infinite millisecond between climax and release – that we all truly exist. That is precisely when I think back to that perfect golf shot, and hear in my mind that song whose name I cannot pronounce.


The word in bold appeared in the previous post.

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