I had to flip back in the book and refresh my memory on Cissie Gool. She was the first woman of colour to be elected a city councillor in Cape Town, waaaaaay back in 1938. Mevrou Jacobs must have been a toddler then, so I assume Mevrou Jacobs met Mevrou Gool later on. Cissie Gool had represented District Six in that election. I clucked my tongue, knowing all about what happened there. “Coloureds got a terrible deal with District Six.”

“Wasn’t just coloureds, dear,” she said, shaking her head. “District Six had been home to many, many different groups of people, including Jewish and black people. All were forced out and it was smashed down.”

And that’s how I ended up reading to her Sala Kahle, District Six by Nomvuyo Ngcelwane. I began to suspect Mevrou Jacobs had heard this one before, but she seemed happy to hear it all over again. I enjoyed it too. One of my biggest laughs was hearing about the ‘Try Again Cricket Club’. What a name! But oh, my heart hurt, when Nomvuyo Ngcelwane and her family had to leave their home, losing their friends, neighbours and community.

I was enjoying reading to Mevrou Jacobs and I was also enjoying having extra cash. This job was not only paying enough to cover my monthly needs, but left a bit extra. I was saving it, thinking maybe I should see a doctor, and find out if this pain was really normal. Then again, how dof would I feel if they told me Ma was right, and I just need to toughen up like the rest of women do.

But I tell you, some months were bad. It would impact my mood, making me want to cry over every little thing. So one day I asked Mevrou Jacobs, “Do you ever read fiction, Tannie?”

“Oh yes, yes indeed, I do. What kind of fiction do you like?”

“Oh, lots of things, but right now, I would like a story that would make me laugh.”

She had me go to her book shelf and find The Madams by Zukiswa Wanner. It is about a bunch of rich black ladies, and one of them hires a white domestic, which sets off a chain of hilarious drama. Oh, some of those women were naughty. They have really messed up lives. And yes, I laughed and laughed. Too much.

“Eina,” I breathed, after one too many belly laughs.


Oh, no.


Tell us: What books or stories have made you laugh?