“Baby, where you?! What you doing? Come lay by me, I miss you.”

After my daddy died, my mommy started to spend all of her time in bed. She hung a thick blanket in front of her windows so that no light gets into her bedroom. Her room is full of black mold that spread all over the walls and gets worse every day. I swear the mold on her ceiling has taken the shape of a skull. My mom never gets out of bed unless she needs the toilet. She got a hip problem from laying so much. She’s always complaining of the pain and walks with a limp now, but she refuses to go to hospital to get it checked out. 

I open her room door and hold my breath. She smokes cigarettes in here and there is no air. 

“Yes, Mommy? I’m busy.”

“Oh, so you don’t want to lay with your mother? Ooh the pain in my heart!”

She likes to guilt trip me. 

I slip my water bag off my shoulders and climb into the bed. She stretches her arm out so I can lay on it. She has her signature smell, so sweet and sour, like when you put roll-on over old sweat, or like a mouse that’s been dead in a kitchen cupboard for a few days. I rest my head on her shoulder. I can hear a high pitched whistle in her lungs when she exhales. I’ve begged her to quit smoking, I even got books from the library for her about quitting, but she doesn’t want to give up cigarettes.

She pushes the buttons on the remote control with speed. “Here’s nothing on TV.” 

That’s her mantra, that. Her TV stays on, day and night. She ignores real life when the TV is on; she switches herself off and lets her thoughts rest on the false worlds behind the screen. 

“Oh my word, that’s mos here by us!” My mom pushes my head off her shoulder. She struggles to sit up straight. “That’s River View, that!”

I break eye contact with the skull on the ceiling and look at the screen. The room is so dark the TV’s light makes my mommy’s smoke look like thunder clouds. I squint and see Tapas on the screen with a lot of mics in front of him. He’s one of the richest people in the world. 

“No, Mommy. That’s Kurt Tapas, lol, why would he be here by us? He lives in America now.” Tapas is a tech billionaire who’s originally from South Africa. 

My mommy pushes the volume-up button. “Tsk, I might not go out a lot but I can mos recognise our entrance, I’m telling you, that’s here by us.”

Tapas speaks in a monotone, he sounds so like a robot. “I do not want to be a detached billionaire with no link to my roots. My childhood nanny comes from this community and so, to honour her, I will take care of this place and its people, just as she did for me. In fact, I will be relocating to River View myself. I will be living with the people.”

Tell us: Do you think Tapas will be good for the community? Why/why not?