My aunt tells me that my father left me three weeks before my fourth birthday. He knocked at her door and handed me over to her like a parcel, he could not handle it anymore he said. My mother left ten days after my birth, leaving my father with their first child. My aunt tells me my parents relationship had always been toxic. They met on the 21st of December in downtown Johannesburg. My aunt and my mother were doing the last Christmas shopping before going to my grandmothers place for the festive season.
They were walking on Small Street when someone tapped my mothers shoulder, my aunt freaked out and called him out on his audacity, to tap someone’s shoulder in such a dangerously over packed street, she gave him a lot of lip but my mother was sold, she looked at the man as if he was her favorite meal, she was near drooling. My aunt tells me my father was a very handsome man that when he asked for my mothers number, my aunt felt a pang of jealousy and she felt guilty for scolding the man, she said that once she was done with the rant, she took a close look at the stranger and he was mightily handsome. My aunt says my father asked my mother out for lunch there and then and when my mother looked at my aunt to signal at my father that she can’t just leave her sister my father looked my aunt boldly in the eyes and asked if my aunt was going to marry my mother? Annoyed, my aunt walked away, leaving my mother with the stranger and proceeded to do her shopping. My aunt says my mother didn’t even bother to stop her, she took the hand that my father held out and the two went the opposite direction, leaving my aunt to go away in anger and that is how my parents met.
My aunt tells me that my parents were bad for each other, they were both impulsive and careless and wild and and… She tells me that they’d argue in public and make out, that their PDA was way ahead of their time.
Some days I sit on my own and try to imagine my father, three years and 11 months are long enough to remember someone, but no matter how hard I try, my memory cannot perceive him. I understand how I cannot remember my mother, how when my aunt shows me her pictures I feel like I’m looking at a stranger, but my father? I understand how I forgot my bag at the internet cafe yesterday: I was preoccupied and running late and was frustrated that I paid R10 to use the internet for 30 minutes, but how I forgot my father, that I cannot understand.
Photo: Botswele Mogotlane