No post today. Usually around this time of the month there is at least a postcard. Not that Justine writes anything special, they all say the same: For T, Love J. Occasionally we get an envelope that has a hundred rand or so. Then Ma says, “Good to see she hasn’t completely forgotten her responsibilities.”

No way to call Justine. She changed her number the day she left the hospital, her body still leaking from having Gabs. She never EFT’s a cent. No return address. No way to track her down. At night, when I’m tucked in my room, I think of her while listening to Gabs’s little sleep sounds from his cot where Justine’s bed used to be. I think of all the things I’d tell her.

I want to ask her questions, too. Like what is she up to, where has she been? How does she earn money? Lionel says he heard she’s working the streets in Cape Town. But I think he’s just being mean. He’s had a thing for my sister for years, following her like a stray puppy begging for a bit to eat and a pat on the head. So now he spreads rumours while telling people, “She’d have been okay if she’d dated a nice guy like me.”

Lionel doesn’t sound like much of a nice guy to me. Not like Max, who keeps his mouth shut and doesn’t tell anybody on the team about Gabs, even though he knows. His dad has checked on the baby from time to time. Being nice to Ma just because. He doesn’t do anything funny, either, seems to really love his wife.

But Lionel is a jerk. He struts by our house, patting his wallet every payday, now that’s he on the boats. Although his job might be going soon – first in, first out, that’s how these things work.

Fishery lost a fair chunk of their rights allocation, most of the established fisheries were hurt, losing to these new start ups. Some government big wig believes this will help jobs. I’m not so sure. Sounds like they’re just transferring work from one person to another, somewhere else. There is a lawsuit, but not sure if it will change anything, but the town is hoping it will. I hope so too. Not that I care about Lionel, but most of ’em are all right. Worked with my daddy, still check on Ma from time to time, adding a bit to the freezer saying, “I know he’d have done the same for my wife and kids.”

Ma doesn’t do well with charity. She works hard as a nurse at the hospital, likes to earn her keep, but in these occasions she says, “You got to leave men their pride.”
I don’t know what’s so special about men’s pride, but I do know I’m sick and tired of eating fish, be it pickled, curried, grilled or fried. I might love the sea, but that doesn’t mean I want to eat it. Just thinking how those fish may have fed on Daddy’s flesh and bones – disgusting.

But when I tried to explain to Ma how I felt about it all she said, “Don’t you get difficult on me, Tazmin, because while I know the Lord won’t give me more than I can handle, this is the limit.”

So I choke down that fish, every time she serves it, bite by bite, washing it down with diluted Oros. But once I start earning my own money, have my own life – free of babies and hard times – I’m never eating fish again.


Tell us: What do you think of Ma’s comment about men’s pride?