I am from…

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.

Sunday afternoon picnic on Signal Hill

Sunday afternoon picnic on Signal Hill

Bronwyn and I in our backyard

Bronwyn and I in our backyard

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.

Family holiday - Japanese gardens in Durban

Family holiday – Japanese gardens in Durban

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.


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11 thoughts on “I am from…

  1. Tina Francis (@teenbug) September 25, 2013 at 11:49 pm Reply

    This is exquisite, Nicole!

    Lovelovelove it!!!

    • findingandowningmyvoice September 26, 2013 at 8:07 am Reply


      Thank you Tina. Your praise is so appreciated and much needed in this needy, insecure space I am inhabiting at the moment.

  2. Rosedene Fillies September 26, 2013 at 8:25 am Reply

    Wow Nicole this is amazing! I was smiling at the things that I remember doing as well. Holding tears back for other parts, I am in awe of your life story and the person that you are. Love you much! (Yes I meant to say much) I can’t wait for the amazing gifts that await you in your future!! Mwah😘

    • findingandowningmyvoice September 26, 2013 at 10:26 am Reply

      Thank you my friend. I am glad to be travelling my life journey with you. Love you much (*grin*) too!

  3. tonibock September 26, 2013 at 3:06 pm Reply

    Such a beautiful glimpse through the snippets of your life shared. Thoroughly enjoyed reading Nicole! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • findingandowningmyvoice September 26, 2013 at 3:16 pm Reply

      Thanks Toni. I must be honest… pressing the “Publish” button is scary every time, but this post and my last one was even more so. Vulnerability to the max!

      • tonibock September 26, 2013 at 3:23 pm

        Aaah I get that, completely! I feel the pressure myself most times… But in the same breath, its undeniable that our stories have meaning and influence. So keep writing, keep being real, keep pressing on… Keep letting the light of your life shine. 🙂

  4. Claire De Boer September 26, 2013 at 10:12 pm Reply

    I love this Nicole! It’s so great to learn more about you and your roots – keep writing!!!!

  5. fiona lynne October 1, 2013 at 5:27 pm Reply

    I’m finally getting a chance to read this, and gosh I love it. I feel like you gave us such a precious glimpse into your life, from the marbles in the hallway which made we want to join in, to the breath-taking thought of your family divided during apartheid. It’s the little things and the big things that make us, isn’t it? x

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