I am from…
I am from wooden boards used to cut everything from bread to onions to meat
From a majestic dark stained wood sideboard adorned with ornaments, with cupboards filled with crockery, some for everyday use and others used only on special occasions, with drawers filled with table and placemats, and various table cloths, those for everyday use and those for special occasions.
I am from a house on a busy corner, one with a long passage perfect for playing with marbles, a house with creaky wooden floors that made sneaking around next to impossible, with cupboards lovingly built by my father the handyman, and with stippled walls that scraped your skin if you took a corner too sharply.
I am from big purple hydrangeas flourishing in flower beds filled with pungent tree bark and dark moist soil, rose trees lovingly pruned every year, and African violets that were placed in shaded parts of the kitchen counter because that’s where they blossomed.
I am from a rubber tree that grew by my window but eventually needed to be cut down because its root system threatened the foundation of our house, from a guava tree in whose branches I would sit while feasting on sweet fragrant ripe fruit in season, whose long gone limbs I remember as if they were my own.
I am from meals always eaten as a family and strict parents
From a mom and a dad and a baby sister.
I am from dinner at the dining room table every day of the week, meals that included weekly dinners served strictly at 6 pm, Saturday morning breakfasts that ranged from fried bacon and eggs or French toast or perfect soft boiled eggs and traditional Sunday roast and veggies with pudding served thereafter.
I am from no elbows on the table and washing all strategic parts before getting into bed and gentle Jesus meek and mild.
I am from celebrations that always included family and family friends.
I am from Cape Town, South Africa, born into a Coloured family whose ancestry, and culture, is unknown because shame and/or fear has shrouded our origins in silence. I am from sardines on toast and apricot chicken and green bean stew and coffee with condensed milk,
from a grandmother who was one of eleven children, whose one sister had more than 20 children
from photos of many family holidays and milestone moments,colour photographs of our growing up years, sepia and black and white photos so my parents growing up years and their parents milestones,
from photos lovingly placed in photo albums, with old photographs kept in a shoebox.
I am from a family torn apart by racial classification during apartheid, where some siblings were classified as white and some as Coloured and the only way they could see each other was in secret.
from parents who sheltered by sister and I from the politics, pain and happenings during the turbulent years in South Africa,
from teenage years filled with shame when sale of execution posters were plastered on the windows of the house or when entering a house emptied by the sheriff of the court,
from childhood sexual abuse and adolescent years with a, then, alcoholic father…
But I am also from fresh pine trees adorned with Christmas or ornaments and meters of blinking Christmas tree lights
from many evenings spent playing card games with my sister and parents
from Sunday afternoon drives and exploring the rainbow of sea life in tidal pools at Mouille point
from driving all over the cape peninsula as a child with my dad during school holidays and jerseys knitted by my mom every tennis tournament,
from a grandmother and mother whose faith walk has left me with a legacy that I am proud to emulate.
I am from pain, despair, helplessness, and shame
But I am also from family, from love, from surviving and from overcoming.