You don’t have to live with her!” I shouted. “I can’t take it anymore. It’s so embarrassing.”

“Oh, my dear,” Gogo shook her head. Then she stood up and boiled the kettle. Putting a mug of hot, sweet tea down in front of me she said, “Masego listen carefully to what I’m going to say to you.”

“Yes Gogo. I’m sorry I shouted at you.”

“Oh, people have done worse things than shout at me in my lifetime, dear. So don’t worry about that. At the end of the day we’re always here for each other and that’s what really matters.”

I smiled and sipped my tea.

“Your Mom is who she is, sweetie. She was born that way. Her heart is in the right place. She’s never harmed anybody in her life, though some people have hurt her deeply.”

“Was my father one of them?” I asked.

“Yes Masego, he was. Nobody likes to talk ill of the dead but your father was one mean and vicious man. Your Mom of course thought she could change him, but a leopard never changes his spots.”

“Did he … hurt Mom?” I asked slowly.

For a moment Gogo’s face became sad. “Yes, he hurt her very much. Your Mom was younger than you are now when she met Sibusiso. He forced his way with her and when she became pregnant he hung around a bit. Then one day he just upped and left. A few months later we heard that he had been killed whilst trying to rob a jewellery store.”

We both sat silent for a few minutes. It was Gogo who spoke first. “Your Mom was 16 years old when you were born, Masego. When you were a few months old she went back to school and I helped her raise you. We were both crazy about you from the moment you were born.”

“I know Mom loves me,” I said.

“I’m just saying that I never tried to change her, Masego. You must never be afraid of being different.”

* * * * *

It was a month later. We were doing a fund raising day at school. My Mom had been going around wearing a silly smirk on her face for weeks. I knew she was up to something.

“Tell me, Sizwe,” I begged. “Please. She’s not going to do anything silly, is she?”

“I have absolutely no idea what she has up her sleeve, Masego,” he patted me on the back. “She hasn’t said anything to me and I’m not going to force it out of her. Whatever it is it will surely be a huge surprise. Actually life with your Mom is one big surprise,” he laughed.

Sizwe really loved Mom. I should be happy for her. I was really but I was nervous at her showing me up at our school fête. I thought back to the rest of the conversation I had with Gogo two weeks ago.

“When your father left, your Mom decided she wasn’t going to let life get her down. She worked harder than ever at school and even went to college to study book-keeping. She kept saying life was for the living.”


Tell us what you think: Is Gogo right when she says that you should not be afraid to be different?