My mother often says strange things. Things that make no sense. But I am used to it. I don’t let it worry me. I don’t argue or ask her what she means.
And now she wants to get out of bed! “Find my slippers, Kesha. And my white dressing gown.”
“Are you sure, Mama? Are you strong enough?”
“Yes, I want to walk in the garden. Don’t argue. It is a lovely evening.”
So we walk in the garden. It is her first time outside in many months. I stay close in case she needs support. But she seems steady, just very slow. All her flowers are dead or dying.
“You will buy me new seeds, Kesha. And fertiliser. Yes! I must plant again. I will employ young Thabo to help me. He can dig. Not you, Kesha. You must do your homework and get good marks. Then you can go to university, my twenty-carat son.”
Seeds? Thabo? University? Now I am getting worried. How does Mama think we will afford such things?
Mr Lekoko walks past in the street. He stares at Mama and shakes his head. I know what he is thinking: How dare that woman bring her germs outside? How dare she endanger her neighbours? I am so angry I want to rip his shaking head off his shoulders.
But Mama smiles and says, “Good evening, Mr Lekoko. How are you? How is your wife? And your two fine boys?” Like he is the best and kindest neighbour in the world. Like he doesn’t gossip about her with people up and down our road. Like his sons are good boys who don’t run with the gangs or bring police to the door.
Mr Lekoko walks away quickly and disappears behind his wall.
Back inside, Mama still doesn’t want to go back to bed. “I am too excited. I want to celebrate.” She sits at the kitchen table and I make her a sandwich.
But I am worried. I think I know why she is excited. And that is very troubling.
“We must find that lawyer, Kesha.”
“Yes, the one who got Dineo her money. Then he can tell the judge to give us our money too.”
Mama clicks her tongue at me. “Concentrate, Kesha! Dineo got diagnosed positive just like me. At the very same clinic. Dineo’s husband abandoned her, just like mine. People shunned and stigmatised Dineo, just like me. She had pain and suffering. That’s what the judge said. And I have also had pain and suffering. I must get compensation too.”
“But Mama, you don’t understand. It said in the newspaper…”
Mama doesn’t want an argument. So I keep quiet. It is so good to see Mama happy and strong. It is a long time since I saw that.
“Just imagine, Kesha: one hundred and fifty thousand rand! That will be wonderful!”
So I don’t tell Mama that there is one big difference between her and Mrs Dineo Maphakwane. One huge difference that changes everything. Maybe I will explain to her tomorrow. It will be very hard.
What do you think? Will Kesha’s mother also get R150 000 from the courts?