Every year was a routine for me and my siblings, life began by going to school, doing my chores after school like fetching the water from a very tall tap which was shared with about three or four streets , I would sweep the yard and those days we used to sweep the street also. It became such a trend to sweep the streets because each one had their own style of sweeping and some form of design or art form would be done with our brooms on the street. And so when you stood right at the edge of the street, one could see a beautiful clean street with different artistic expressions from each and every house.
Every Saturday was laundry day, our laundry was so much so that all the fences alongside both neighbour will be full, every weekend. Like many other domestic tasks, I loved helping my mother do laundry and as time went on, I became the chief Laundromat of my family. We had two big iron tubs hat we used to wash and rinse, back in the day using sta – soft was not a pre-requisite. I have been trying to think whether it was due to the type of detergent we used or if it was lack of affordability.
I looked forward to school holidays and I remember that from 1989 until 1999, we went to Harmmarsdale. I remember the first time we were going to Harmmarsdale with my mom; we were so overjoyed and did not sleep. She would always prepare idombolo nenyama yenkukhu for umphako. In those days the taxi to Harrismith would leave at six am and we needed to make sure that we are the Mcoyi taxis by 8am otherwise we would not make to Harmasdale on that day. Being in Natal was one of the greatest life experiences I ever had in my life and I believe that is where my IsiZulu accent was engraved in me. As years passed, I and my younger sister would be the two of us going to Natal with the exclusion of my other two siblings.
Watching TV was one of the greatest time passing habits that we used to enjoy. I remember seeing a floor cleaning machine for the very first time, the use and access to electricity which we termed uciphiza impukane obondeni. The first time I saw and touched a light bulb was in Natal. There was something very strange going in those early days though and I would later understand that it was during the times of war between the ANC and Inkatha. My mamkhulu would sit in front of the window with specific instructions that her son must sit far from the window or have the window behind him. The idea behind this was to say that should a bullet come though the widow, she would be the first person to be hit and her son would be spared. And so we would for the most part enjoy our vacation indoors for the fear of hippos that were always roaming around the streets or for the fear of the guys that are jumping fences and coming into the house bejahwa amaphoyisa.
As the years went by our visits to Natal became very exciting, Mamkhulu’s son had gotten married and they owned a house at KwanDengezi, so we would go visit him for the most part of our holidays. The durations of our holidays were very long and I went there twice a year. To date I have lots of respect for my brother and his wife for taking care of us the way they did. The experience of being in a high walled house with fence and proper security was an experience. My brother’s wife used to prepare meals which were to die for. She introduced dessert t my cute innocent life and would buy two big boxes of choice assorted biscuits, yhoo life was good. I remember in 1994 , the first time we went to Kwa-Ndengezi, she would prepare supper at six, and we were coming from an environment where we eat supper at eight or nine. So every evening we would finish our food, wash dishes and come eight we are hungry again. One of the reasons we were always so hungry was because at home we always ate pap and they were eating rice, pasta and all sorts of things that we were not used to. Part of being exposed into a new world is that there is lot of food types that I said I don’t eat, only to find that I meant I don’t know what it is and I want to try.
I mean trying a cucumber for example, was such an experience. I remember my sister didn’t want to try potato and mayo salad saying she doesn’t eat it, I mean how do you know you don’t eat something if you have never tasted it before….. My funniest story was when the family took us to the mall for shopping, obviously their kids are city kids things like burgers and fizzy drinks are very normal to them. So they asked us what we want, obviously the first inclination is to look at your neighbour and copy what they asked for. So I had no idea what I wanted, my ever confident self, I asked my cousin what she was going to have and I asked what must I have. She gladly recommended that same stuff that she was going to have. At that point in time I didn’t know where we were and why were even ordering food on some ladies dressed in red. Anyway, food came, and everyone had a nice cute little box to open. My cousins were very excited and you could see that this thing is like winning a lottery, they were happy smiling, grateful. And then there I was, I opened, ate the round bun thing and it tasted ok. The next thing I heard was, seniqedule ukudla seniyoze nidle ntambama, I wanted to scream……… How on earth can this be ukudla, I didn’t even feel this thing in my tummy. That day was such a discovery and I couldn’t wait to get back to the house and eat.
I would later in life learn that we were at Wimpy?, Pavillion centre and that what we were eating is called a burger.