It’s amazing how a moment can change your life. For the last couple of days I had resisted this charlatan child, this imposter. This was the first time holding him in my arms. Instinct took over at that stage. My son was exactly that age but somehow I feared this child more. In the suburbs, we are taught to fear anything from the township but that fear is amplified if that place becomes a shanty town. We are very quick to remind white people that in black families we are taught to love first before we can hate when we forget that we are also taught to hate our own people. I won’t lie, had this child been growing up in a mansion in Sandhurst I would readily have accepted and fought for him. Does this make me an exception to the norm? I don’t know but I know I am not alone in this view. However, and this is true, their poverty offended me and this is what had made me look at Ruben somehow. Many people would be ashamed to admit it because in spite of our fears and prejudices, we are taught that part of humility is suppressing how we truly feel about some things. If your child was being raised by the Guptas would you really fight that though? Would that not be an advantage for you because you know he is only getting the best of the best. It really is a catch 22 situation because if you then pull him from that position of privilege, chances of him hating you when he gets older are too high to ignore. As for the shack dwellers, chances of him hating you for leaving him there are also high. This is why there was so much to consider. It was not just a matter of picking up your child and leaving. There was so much else that went into this decision.
“I am holding my true child, my flesh and blood in my hands…” a little voice whispered to me as I sat there. It was almost as though I was still in hospital when the nurses handed Amo to me for the first time. That moment lasts forever. This was no different. A mother knows, when you hold your child there is something that calms you down. There is something that tells you that no matter how bad things are, at this moment, this is where you want to be and how you want things to go. Even when you are in a storm, it feels as though your child is safest when with you under your protection.
I was lost so far in thought that I did not see my sister had stood up with Amo and they went outside. I think she was on the phone or something but at that moment though it was like in the whole world only Ruben and I existed. This was like Twilight, I was imprinting on my son as that moment was overwhelming.
“Faith!” my sister called me when she came back to me. She actually had to say it twice before I jumped out of my trance.
“Sorry I got lost there!” I guiltily responded.
“Are they back?” I asked her the first question that came to mind but she was not on that.
“I can see what you are doing Faith!” my sister said to me her annoyance in her voice palpable.
“What am I doing?” I asked her.
It was a guilt-ridden innocent response to be honest as I was still battling with my emotions. That moment the little charmer giggled and there I was in his face. He looked like me. Do you call them dimples when you only have one? Well I have one on my left cheek and when he giggled that dimple came out on him. It was amazing. I was looking at myself in this baby with questionable hygiene. That’s why I had rejected him in the first place right? He was not clean enough. I know there are those that will judge me on this but ladies how many people have you rejected because they looked a bit scruffy and unkempt (not even dirty)? We all do this. We judge by what we see first before we judge by how we feel.
“Here let’s swap!” she said offering to take Ruben from me.
“Why?” I asked her.
“So that you can hold your own son!”
I felt like snapping and telling her that I was holding my son but I didn’t.
“Stop putting thoughts in my head. You know what’s going on here so stop acting like a child and help me come up with solutions!” I told her very calmly.
Okay fine, maybe I snapped, but just a little. It was now annoying that everytime they had to remind me that Amo was mine and that other child… well he was that other child. Did shs think I did not know that really? So annoyed!
“Why are you getting angry at me?” she asked me. She really was looking for a fight and I know her when she pokes. What would this benefit us though? I stood up and walked outside. It was getting dark already but it was fascinating to see that they were still so many people on the streets. I did not want to go back inside too quickly because the thought of fighting with my sister was not too appealing. Thank heavens my phone rang.
“Mudenda!” I said, shocked, when I answered the phone!
“Where the fuck have you been? You don’t even care that all this has been happening?” I went on the attack immediately. It’s true he had not said a word since the day we found out.
“I am sorry I needed to clear my head!” he said, “I am sure you can understand that!” he continued, which just ticked me off more.
“You are not the only one with problems. You should be glad that she didn’t make you raise someone else’s child and make you believe it’s yours like that OPW presenter did!” I said cheekily.
“What do you want?” I asked him.
“We need to discuss all this that has been happening? It’s important!”
Was this dude serious? He just disappeared on me like that and now I must be accepting?
“Go away! I don’t have time for this!” I answered and I hung up. He tried to call me but I ignored.
In about two hours my parents came back. Agne’s husbands had just been stabbed but not on a dangerous part and no vein had been harmed. This way they just bandaged him up, gave him a few meds and sent him home. The clinic had no space. I must say I felt a bit sorry for him if you consider that his child had been born in a hospital that looked like a mall yet he could not even get decent attention. Oh well, to each his own.
“We have to go!” my mother said as soon as she got back. I could hear a touch of fear in her voice and I think I knew why. She always fought with my sister whenever she went into townships late at night. Actually she hated it. She would call and harass her to the point were my sister started lying about her whereabouts. One of the reasons why my mother left Baragwanath was that she did not want to drive there at night or too early in the morning. The irony though was actually nothing ever happened to her but in her head it was a disaster waiting to happen. See, it was our parents who taught us to fear our own people and whether justified or not, I wanted to leave Orange Farm.
“The ancestors are not happy, that’s why this is happening. I have stayed here for so many years and never once have I met violence!” said Agnes’s husband. This man and his ancestors. Why was he acting like he was the only who had them! He was starting to sound like the DA which thinks it has a monopoly on good ideas.
“Stop it papa ka Ruben you are just embarrassing us. You were stabbed because you probably owed them money so don’t even start with that rubbish!” Agnes snapped angrily at him.
“Can I hold him please?” she said to me, as Ruben was still in my arms. Crap, I had forgotten that. Was I that comfortable with him already. Even when I handed him over I felt a reluctance in me to do so. When he was gone from my arms the warmth left with him. I immediately went to my sister to take Amo but she rolled her eyes and did not hand him over. He banna!
“You like the other child better so leave Amo alone! Sies!” she said out loud and walked out. Everyone looked at me and I actually felt ashamed. I did not like him better, what was she on about. The drive home, phew, very quiet as though everyone was deep in thought. Even my father was not saying anything. I guess too much in one day dulls the minds of old people. My sister sat with Amo in her lap and was bouncing him up and down. He was having the time of his life. Did he know that he was hurting me and I could lose him? Did he know that?
When we got home my mother said she was leaving with my father. It was a bit awkward because at the end of the day we were her children and she did not have to announce. As they drove out loud my sister cheekily said, “Mama wa jewa!” and for some reason I laughed. I was annoyed at her but it was funny and disgusting at the same moment. You never want to think of your mother getting laid especially by a stranger and that man was a stranger. It was good enough though for an ice breaker.
“She is so strict I wonder if she even moans in bed!” my sister continued, completely out of order but she had always had that crude sense of humour. I used to get all offended and angry but I was grown now. She used shock and awe to get under my skin so I was now impervious to her devices.
“Really now Judith! Mama is not the moaning type. She will probably be giving a lecture during sex as to why he cannot be on top for too long!” I responded of which it was her turn to laugh.
“Don’t respect mama like that!” she said to me but in a joking way.
“Faith we can’t take Ruben!’ she said putting on a serious face! She literally turned from smiling to serious in a millisecond.
“I know that but I can’t help it. Do you see where he lives right now and how much more you can do for him here?” I asked her. I think what made this situation worse was his socio economic status more than anything else. Yes he was my son but knowing that your child was living in such poverty would most definitely haunt me for life.
“I am going to bed!” I said to her. It had been a long day. She did not want to give me Amo so I decided to sleep with her. She was still watching TV though when I went to bed. My phone was ringing. It was Aurelia.
“Look what you have done, Refiloe poured boiling water on Meladi! She went to her house and apparently that happened! Oh my God what have we done!”
“Excuse me!” was my response!
Michael Nkululeko Maphoto (fb)
Firstly I would like to thank you and your team for your wonderful work, you really have and make a difference in people’s lives including mine.
I am 23 years old,female. I had an okay upbringing. I have a problem (well some might not see it as a problem) but I fear that it is going to ruin my life sooner or later. My problem is that I am a compulsive liar. Lying for me is like breathing , I lie about stupid stuff or about some pretty serious things if it’s going to benefit me or make me feel good about something. I have good self esteem, I have never been abused or been in any situation that would result to me being like this. I think this habit or sicknesses rather started when I was young and it stuck. I do practise to stop but I always relapse and go back to my old ways. I easily lie to strangers or someone I know and even close with in a simple conversation. In my life no one knows about this or has noticed at least I think so.
I really want to stop this before it ruins my life or someone else’s. Please if there is anything that can help me , help a sister out.