Seriously weird day. I mean SERIAAS. It started with a fight and ended with me and my mama hauling a squealing bag out of the storm drain!
Regular readers of this blog all two of you, hey guys? 😉 will know that my mama has been driving me INSANE lately. I love her and all, but… uyandipambanisa! (For my non-Xhosa readers, that’s “she’s making me crazy!”)
Like, she’s having a major identity crisis about our relationship. One minute she’s all modern: we should be able to talk about stuff like grown-ups and I should call her “Nomvula” instead of “mama” and she really appreciates me bringing in money to help support us and looking after her when she was sick.
The next instant she goes all serious about traditional values, like I need to respect my elders and I’m being disrespectful when I talk back to her and I have to do what she says because she knows better.
So, mama and I have this huge argument this morning. She’s been really sick lately and while the clinic gives her ARVs, we still have to pay for the vitamins and the supplements and it’s crazy expensive. I’ve been working at this film company, but I can only really do it on weekends and over the holidays and it’s just not enough.
So our conversation this morning went something like this:
Me: “I should just quit school and work full-time to look after you. You don’t need matric to work in the film industry. And this way I’d be getting a head start on my career and a full salary.”
Her: “uPambene! Ngeke!” (“Are you crazy? Never!”) What about university… Future prospects… Warra warra warra…”
At this point I snapped. Maybe it was because I was tired from working ’til midnight last night on that stupid washing powder commercial because the director insisted on getting shots of the box from all different angles and then decided it wasn’t good enough and set up all the lights all over again. Or maybe it’s just because I was tired of having the same argument with mama over and over. Anyway, I said something terrible.
Me: “Oh yeah, ‘cos university worked out so great for you, mama.”
Her: “What is that supposed to mean?”
Me: “Single mom with a political science degree and HIV and no husband? Great future prospects, mama.”
For once, mama didn’t have a snappy comeback. She just stood there, like I’d punched her. And then her chin started wobbling. I thought she was going to slap me, but she just turned and walked into her room and closed the door.
Ndiswabile. I felt so bad. It just came out. I couldn’t believe I said that. I tried to knock on the door, but mama just said “Please leave me alone” in this muffled voice, like she was talking into her pillow.
So I did. I went for a walk and a think. Walking is kinda like hair conditioner, it gets rid of all the tangles in your head.
The most frustrating part is that I understand. I really do. On the one hand, this is your typical mom-daughter stuff. We might as well be in a soap opera. But it’s also the way she grew up, you know? In exile. She’s stuck between these two worlds. Sometimes I wish she hadn’t moved back to Mzansi with dad in 1995. It would have been awesome to grow up in England. Superfast Internet FTW! And maybe then dad wouldn’t have got so homesick and they wouldn’t have fought so much and he wouldn’t have gone back to Korea.
It’s kinda my fault. When I was born, she wanted me to grow up here, to have roots. She was always moving around and I guess it got lonely. She wanted me to grow up with a real home and also experience our culture.
Of course there are some parts of our culture I totally don’t get, like why is it okay for a man to have lots of wives but a woman can’t have lots of husbands? Helloooo… hypocrisy! But then there’s lots about “Western” culture I don’t get either, like how is it acceptable to just dump your gogo in an old-age home? Hayibo! Not cool.
Anyways, I’m getting sidetracked.
So, I was walking and I had no idea where I was going and I couldn’t really see because I was blinking back tears. I got to the end of the street and sat down on the kerb by the empty lot that used to be a playground until the equipment rusted and became a health hazard and they ripped it all out.
I put my head down on my knees and I was sobbing, feeling sad and angry and all messed up, when I heard this whimper. I looked up, but there was nobody around.
So, I got my detective vibe on and started searching around for the source of the noise. Finally, I tracked it down to the other side of the dirt-patch-that-used-to-be-a-playground. It was coming from the storm drain.
I knelt down next to it, feeling a bit stupid and called down, “Molo? Anyone down there?” There was a squeal and I got such a shock that I fell backwards and scraped my hand. There was a black garbage bag, tied up at the top, half-sunk in water and leaves and plastic and rubbish.
I tried to reach it, but the grate was too narrow and my arm got stuck. My fingers just sorta grazed the top of it and the bag stopped wriggling and something inside made a very small, very sad whine.
I ran back home faster than Caster Semenya and nearly broke my mom’s bedroom door down I was banging on it so hard. She was so cross when she opened it until I told her about the bag in the drain. On the way back, she ran faster than me!
(TO BE CONTINUED…)