My mother grew up in the Eastern Cape. When she was in her early 20s she moved to Johannesburg in order to join her father, my grandfather. In Johannesburg, my mother finished her schooling and while there she also met my father. I don’t know for sure, but I’ve heard that my mother gave birth to two older sons, my brothers.
After my mother fell pregnant with me, she moved in with my father. She stopped working after she gave birth to me and my father supported us. I’ve heard that my mother was a quiet person, my father on the other hand was talkative.
My first memory from my childhood was playing in an old rusty car with friends. There was superglue on the car and I must have put my hands in it because my fingers were stuck together. I couldn’t get my fingers apart so I went home, but no-one was there. My neighbour’s mother was home and she warmed some water for me, added some Dettol to the bowl and soaked my hands in the water then made lunch for my friend and me. After we had eaten we went back to the car. I needed the toilet but I was very young and didn’t know how to go by myself.
My friends taught me to pull down my pants and I went to relieve myself. We then carried on playing in the car; we were travellers exploring foreign lands. When I got home my father boiled water for my bath and asked me what I had eaten and warned me to be careful when taking food from my neighbours. The next day we played with a cart we had made. We crashed into a car in the road and a Zulu man told us to not play in the road again. The cart was damaged, but my dad promised to fix it and he fulfilled his promise.
I remember my father as a caring father. He used to do things for me, such as bringing me toys, clothing and books. I used to share these things with a friend who was living in a shack.
I remember a day when I walked into my father’s room and saw that he was crying. He was looking at pictures in a book. I’m not sure what they were, but I think they may have been photos of my mother. I felt scared and ran out of the room. When I got back home later, my father’s bedroom door was locked. The next day his room was messy and it stank of alcohol. The following day my dad told me to look in my room. He had bought a bike for me, which he had hidden in my room.
I later learned that my dad was sick. I overheard my father and great uncle talking one day. My father was telling my great uncle how difficult it was being a single dad. My great uncle told my dad that it wasn’t his fault that my mother had died.
I remember my uncle’s name, he was called Zatwane. He had kids that he left with his wife in the Eastern Cape when he moved to Johannesburg to work. Their names were Nozatante and I can’t remember the boy’s name. My uncle cared about me. Some people said I had siblings, Kabutse and Atule, who were left in Jobug. Once when I ran away from Noeloff, my uncle’s wife, after she had damaged my leg, I spoke to a lady who told me that my mother did have two other sons who were in Johannesburg. Another lady told me that Noeloff had my mother’s documents, her ID and pictures. I never saw them.
My family did not tell me that my mother had died. My father told me she had gone to work and would come back. I was only told that my mother had died when I was about 11 years old. I remember my great uncle bringing me bangles that belonged to my mother and giving them to me. The bangles were to protect me against witchcraft.
When I was a young child I used to see things. They told me that my mother had the same gift. They say it’s a gift but to me it’s some sort of curse. My mother didn’t believe in witchcraft or in the bangles. Later when I was travelling to the Western Cape I had a dream that Noeloff stole them. When I woke up, I asked the other children on the train and they said Noeloff had taken them. I never asked her.
One day my father asked me what I wanted to be when I was older and I told him I want to be a father. He used to tell me that he’d do anything to help me reach my dreams.
Tell us: Do you believe in witchcraft?