The year is 1989; my mother had been telling me the whole of January that this year I am going to big school. The day has finally come, she has her towel on her waist, the tsogi on her face and finally she announces, Mano uzoya eskoleni, bakuthathile mntanami!!!!
I don’t know whether the summer rain had started or it is in my dreams by virtue of the feeling I had, but I started running around our shack that my parents had built, the utterances from my mouth were yeeeey, I am going to school, yeey I am going to be wealthy, yeeey I am going to build us a house. The beautiful warm summer rain was drizzling, writing about this day, I can still smell the freshness of the soil as the drops hit the ground. The rest of this day was spent dreaming with my siblings about what this will mean for all of us, I was going to school and I was so excited about the many doors that this would bring to me and my family. We imagined big houses, great communities, helping everyone who wants to come to school; the dream was about all of us, all of our community benefiting from what we would achieve.
The dream put people first. I can still feel the feeling I had when I was 6 years old; my dream is bigger than me. My dream starts with the people, then back to me. I never dreamt of big cars, I did dream of a good house, the essence of my being was revealed again at six years old.
And so when in 2009, twenty years later, I received my first real bonus of R17,500 I went home and told my mom I would like to build a house and I had completely forgotten about my confessions when I was six years old. My mom called my elder brother and the matter was discussed, he then went to the yard, started counting the size and length of the house, as he was counting, walking along the line where the shack was back then, my memory came flushing back. I remembered and I knew that this was not a coincidence. I would later give my brother R16, 000 from my bonus money to buy material to build a house for my family!!
Before I went to primary school, I was attending a creche kwa gogo u Qhuge. It would be later in life that I understood that her name was a direct translation of her disability. She was limping with her one leg shorter than the other, and so in isiZulu, that is called ukuqhuga, So this basically means I never knew what her real name was. I have great memories from attending this crèche, from carrying a lunch box of bread with rama and black rooibos. There is something about the taste of brown bread with a black, lightly sweetened rooiboss, to date, nothing competes with this feeling. I still miss the rooibos from the eleven ‘clock package, which was brewed in a big kettle which we reused and refilled over and over again, yet it would still trek just the right way. Drinking tea from a tea bag dumped directly to a cup is not the same to the home brewed cup of tea.
Drinking tea is something we love doing in my family and I have come to believe that it is part of our small community culture. Each family when having visitor in those days, tea placed more value to use when welcoming the guest over juice or fizzes. This could also be due to the cold weather conditions that Warden has. So we drink tea throughout the year. We can to date drink tea when it is 40 degrees outside and still enjoy it. My father was exclusively good at brewing tea, however as the years went by, he would take his mug, brew the tea, take another mug and boil milk, mix the two and then place them on side of the stove to cool off. At times he would doze off to wake up to an empty mug, tea burned by the ever so hot “dover” stove. I always wondered why warm the milk if you going to want the tea to cool off. But as the years go by, I find myself warming my milk first for my coffee and also wait for the coffee to cool off ……and so it goes without saying, like father like daughter
Most of my sweetest memories are those of my family sitting round the stove, on the floor with many blankets covering us and my mom reading a story book to us. This is one of the reason winter is my favorite season to date. The feeling of dressing with warm clothes, making fire, sitting around drinking something warm, has a feeling of “home” to it. I had lots of favorite storybooks but due to my poor memory I cannot recall their tittles. My mom worked as a cleaner at a library on contract when one of her neighbor ausi Maggie was on maternity leave. I do recall her working for quite a while at the library but as a causal employee. My mom would hire books written in IsiZulu and she would read them to us. It is amazing that as kids, story reading never gets boring. There was one particular story about a donkey that lost its laughter in the animal farm; an invitation was made to each and every animal in the land to help find the donkey’s laughter. The donkey’s laughter was an important part of what made the donkey survive. The donkey was miserable and so everyone had to do their part to help find the donkey’s laughter back. Giraffes had to search with their tall selves, on the trees, elephants had to use their beaks to check on the tallest of trees, rabbits had to search and all type of animals in their uniqueness had to use their habitat and help search for the laughter. This dragged for a long while, the search, the struggle and suddenly, the donkey found its laughter. I think what always made the story exciting is how it was read to us, mom does have her way of portraying characters, I must add she is a character herself. Over the years my friends have come to know my mother as a character, full of life and energy. She loves dramatic expressions and will stand up to show and emphasize a point. I owe my bit of drama and flair to her!