But when Ma stumbles in at 7am, looking forward to her cup of Rooibos tea, she isn’t angry when I tell her that Sir came by. Sitting on the sofa with her feet up, she sighs into her mug. “I shouldn’t have told you to not talk about Gabs. He’s a beautiful grandson, and while I sure hope you don’t give me another anytime soon, I’m not going to keep calling him a mistake.”

“Ma, I know. I love him too.”

“Listen to me, Tazmin, if you ever get close to a boy, you get on the pill. I should have taken Justine when she asked. She was worried condoms wouldn’t be enough and I told her to keep her legs shut like the good Lord said. But people are people, and I’d be lying if I told you I waited until my wedding day.”

Ma did NOT just say that. I’m looking at the floor, then the walls, anywhere but her face. My eyes settle on a quote: How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child! – Shakespeare, King Lear. Which completely supports my case for why we should not have these blasted quotes all over our house. There it is, mocking me while Ma is telling me about her sex life. If I could live on my surfboard, I truly would, because out there on the water I am free from that dead playwright.

“Anyway, I’m not too old change, Tazmin.”

“I never called you old, Ma.”

“Listen, I’m trying to say something important. Don’t let any boy push you into doing anything you don’t want to. But be safe. I got some condoms from the hospital’s chemist, they’re in your sock drawer.”

“Ma!” I turn and look at her, jaw hanging open.

“No, no, this is what I should have done with Justine. Been supportive. I miss her so much and I know you do too.”

I can’t stand this. There is Ma, my strong hardworking ma who didn’t even let us see her cry when Daddy died, with tears leaking out her eyes. I go over and give her a hug. She just holds me, sniffing near my ear. We stay like that until Gabs starts wailing from his cot. Kid never sleeps in so late, but I guess miracles can and do happen, even in this crazy house.

“I need to sleep,” she finally says.

“Love you,” I tell her.

“Love you, too.” Then she’s stroking my baby hairs off my forehead. “You are turning into a beautiful young woman, you know. As was your sister. But I was too caught up trying to keep us alive after Daddy died and…”

“Go to bed, Ma. It’s all okay.”


Tell us: What do you think of Tazmin’s ma?