Can you ever put monetary value on a person’s life? Forget the moral aspect of it for one moment and consider what am asking? How much are you worth in rand value especially now with the way the currency is spiralling into an abyss? I know most people have life insurances so is the end amount you can afford on the premium the value of what your life is? We all know stories of black widows, women who kill their men for their estate or life insurance policies but who is judging? Is that the value of their lives! I know for a fact that I was worth something. I was smart, beautiful and clearly fertile so I had something of value. I wanted to be dated by people of substance because I considered myself to be worth something. What therefore was my monetary value? Is a poor person that stays in a shack, take Agnes for example, worth less than me who lives in the surburbs, works and pays taxes, meaning I contribute to the good of all? I have always wanted to ask that though and for it to come out like this right now was not too much of a surprise because it was in me. I had so many life questions. With that said there was no way Amo was worth so little! Was this man crazy? R15000 is the equivalent of US$1000 thanks to Van Rooyen and his friends. That is all he wanted. The thing is if I protested and rebuked him, he would most likely increase the amount so I needed to be careful how my anger was expressed.
“That’s okay I will work hard to raise it. I will sell something if I must!” I told him with a very flat voice.
I had to make it seem that he had driven such a hard bargain. I had to make it feel as though I was losing something that I had worked so hard for. He agreed and I could feel the satisfaction in his voice. When I went to bed, my sister and I shared. We both slept in the same bed for the first time in years. This was because we both wanted to be close to Amo. I am sure on some level even my mother would have done the same had it not been for space.
“Are you not so glad that he is back?” my sister asked me in the middle of the night. I don’t know how she knew I was awake as the light was off and I don’t think I was fidgeting that much.
“You have no idea hey. I don’t even know how to express how happy I am!” I told her.
“Me too! I just don’t know what I will do if they come back and want him back! I don’t think my poor heart will ever be able or ready to take that. I will just die right there on that spot” she concluded. I felt exactly how she felt. I did not respond because that was how I felt.
“What about the other kid?” she asked me. I am even surprised she was willing to enquire after him because she had made it crystal clear that she did not want anything to do with him.
“I don’t know what do you think?” I turned it on her.
“Well we can’t avoid the fact that she is your real baby at the end of the day. Do you then leave her to be raised by baboons and grow up suffering? In future that will be a decision you will hate and resent yourself for. That much I can guarantee you.” she said.
“But I thought you said you want nothing to do with the kid yet now you seem concerned?” I asked her. Remember she had said she would not feed the child nor touch it. She even said she would leave the house forever if she could. Very strong words indeed.
“I was just angry and venting. I think you would too if you put as much effort in Amo as I do” she snapped. Where had the story changed now?
“Why are you snapping at me now Judith are we fighting?” I asked her.
“It’s because you are selfish Faith. Did it not strike you even once that I wanted to be invited in all those meetings you had? I have raised Amo every single day of his life and I am the person he has spent the most hours with in his life yet you could not even give me a courtesy heads up! Really Faith!” she asked me angrily. She was right to a certain extent, I really should have included her in this but at the time the priority had been one – to get Amo back.
“I am sorry Judith. It was not in my power. If it was I would have wanted you there!” I said. The difference between Judith and a nanny was this, she was family. A black nanny can raise a white person’s child and love that child with all their heart. However, the day the white boss gets tired of her she would cast her out like a demon at Pastor Mboro’s church! That’s how much disdain will be shown to her when she is given the boot. All will be forgotten, how she was always there for the child when mommy was away at work e.t.c. I guess that’s How Judith felt. I had treated her like that. It was not because I was ungrateful but because things had happened so fast.
“I know it’s not over yet. Please include me in what’s going on and stop treating me like a child. I need to know! I was dying sitting outside trying to figure out what was happening. How could I ever feel good about that?”
I did not respond. With the light off I pretended as though I had fallen asleep. She had given me much to think about when I already had a lot on my mind. I needed to show her more gratitude than I already did.
In the morning I did not go to work. Even my mother stayed home. She swapped shifts with someone just to be close with Amo. She said that we needed to have a family meeting and did not even consult me on who was part of that thing. Next thing she was saying my father was on his way to be part of this. I asked Judith if she had known about this but she too had not been consulted. I honestly did not want people right now. What was a family meeting going to resolve? When my father arrived I had to admit that he had changed a lot from the day he had first shown up at our doorstep. He was not longer that dirty hobo-looking man who had come to look for his long lost daughter. He way more clean cut. It seemed as though his luck had turned and he was starting to take better care of himself. The resemblance between me and him was also starting to show.
“We can’t leave that child out there. It’s bad for the family and it’s bad for you? What happens next time when Amo gets sick?”
He was asking when we had been all arguing for an hour on what the right course of action in this scenario would be? He was of the opinion that if we had to swap then I had to because it was for the best. My sister was with me but my mother, the traitor, was surprisingly leaning more towards him. She too had changed. At the beginning of my Rumblings my mother had been this mean, strict person who hardly ever smiled at me. I even said she had resented me all these years for my father. Ever since he came back she was a happier person and she even joined a gym. I doubt she was attending it though but I guess it’s the thought that counts.
“Mum this is Amo we are talking about, your grandchild, we can’t just let him go!”
Judith argued fiercely. I think to my parents it was now a matter of when the grown ups sit you down and get you back on the straight and narrow. To them they were now intervening with the right advice. I told them all the bad things Agnes had said and my mother said no mother would ever do that to her own child! Really? And all those women who are arrested for abusing their children are fake, right? Women like to impose their standards on other women. They believe that what is right for them should by default be right for others. This is why they hate each other so much! If you don’t conform to what’s right by them then you are immediately on the shit list.
“Mum she was serious. Do you really think she wants to lose Ruben? Come on now!” I said getting very annoyed at her lack of reasoning.
“Look, I’m trying to offer solutions because it seems I am the only on trying to find an answer. I know how the system works. They will walk in here one day and take Amo and we won’t have power over it. That’s why I want us to be ahead of it. We need to have solutions we are comfortable with by the time they walk through that door!” she responded strongly. The fight was on now!
“With all due respect mum giving up Amo is not an option. I will move in with them in that shack to be close to my baby!” I said defiantly.
“Me too!” My sister chirped in. I had a plan already. I was going to pay that man. I was going to add to that money so that he moves far away from Jhb! He must not come back to claim his son after they signed over custody. That was my plan which is why I wanted a delicate solution. Well I had thought too soon!
“I spoke to her this morning. I suggested that she become our helper and she said she will think about it.” my mother said. Like… what the fuck! She had not considered asking for my opinion. I was obviously against the idea because I was there when she said that she would bring harm to Amo. See I am not entirely unreasonable. It was for his safety not just selfishness that I did not want my boy to go near that woman.
“Mum have you heard nothing I have said. She said she will not take care of Amo. Now you want to invite her to the house?” I asked her.
“Yes I do and I also offered her and her husband to move in the cottage at the back. This way Amo will never leave the yard and will not stay in a shack should it be that God forbidding we fail to get him back!” she said seriously. It was surprisingly a good idea even though I was still unhappy about not being consulted. It was the safest option.
“She just had to convince her husband first!” my mother concluded.
Oh shit! He would never say yes now because he wanted the money.
Ke ya phapha stru!
Michael Nkululeko Maphoto (fb)
I am blessed with a daughter and she about 3 months now. Now my problem is on his dad side they want the baby to visit them on weekends and sleep over without me of cause because we not married yet with the father of my daughter. Honestly I’m not comfortable with her sleeping there I feel like she’s to young to be away from me. And another thing I feel like they trying to take her away from me because every time I’m at their place they always speak to the child which is talking to me indirectly cause the baby can’t hear a thing, they tell her that they gonna take her so she can live with them next year,they once told me they no longer care about me all they want is the child,even though It was said jokingly I still feel that they trying to take my child away from me that’s why I’m not comfortable for her to sleep over. She hasn’t slept over yet but they keep asking. Do I let her go or what? Please help I’m feeling confused.