As usual, I had forgotten that it was Mother's Day. I had not noticed the hustle and bustle up and down the passage, past my bedroom where Aisha (2) and I were lying on the bed, lazily chatting.
When we eventually rose for the day, I heard a loud whisper from Nuha (7), ''Guys, it's Mother's Day! How could we forget?''
She then approached me, throwing her arms around me, ''Happy Mother's Day!'' she said and started to play with Aisha and joke around with me. Little did I know that she was the devious decoy - sent to keep me from noticing what was happening behind the scenes.
After a few minutes, Mo called me, telling me that there was something I should see in the garden. That was apparently the extent of his involvement in the planning.
Stepping out into the garden, I was so surprised and impressed by what awaited me. In the middle of the little lawn was a single table, laid with my favourite breakfast - eggs sunny side up, pan-roasted veggies, garlic bread, homemade orange juice (from the tree in the front garden, which bears fruit that look like lemons, but taste like oranges) and green tea. For dramatic effect, there was a fire in the pathway adjacent to the table and a tall singular candle, making my meal look rather classy. (I really wish I had had my camera at that point to capture that moment). Up on a chair stood Tharaa (10) , the queen of melodrama, theatrically holding a black rain umbrella to shield me from the sun, while I enjoyed my breakfast. (This was later replaced by a more sensible, but less interesting beach umbrella).
I wished that I could be both enjoying the spectacle, as well as recording it on camera. It was beautiful, special and bizarre - all at the same time. Eventually I started to feel uncomfortable with being served, so I asked everyone to join me - especially the domestic worker, Elizabeth, who is the mother of two kids, who had been left behind in the Eastern Cape while she came to work in Cape Town. Elizabeth smiled shyly as the kids served her and giggled as Aisha kept her entertained with her version of a conversation (including the most delightfully-pronounced English words intermingled with the most baffling - but equally delightful - gibberish).
Mo and John (the previously-homeless guy who now lives in a tiny section of our back living quarters), carried out another table before joining the kids, Elizabeth and me for breakfast. The kids insisted that our other family member, Titan - our quaker parrot - join us. However the latter was grumpy - he is not much of a morning
John entertained us with stories about him and Titan - and how they'd managed to catch a mouse together. He is such a skilled storyteller - to act out their (his and Titan's) victory over the shrewd mouse; he stood up while giving a blow-by-blow account of the moments leading to their victory. He ducked and weaved, all the while holding imaginary conversations with an imaginary Titan and then eventually pounced on the poor imaginary mouse, who just had not stood a chance against this formidable pair.
(Above) All of us, except Shakeel (13) who had been the event co-ordinator and photographer (and who had sat on the wall like a monkey to take this picture)
|John, in a more docile moment, entertaining us with a story|
We lazed around for the rest of the morning. For lunch, we headed out for pizza, but abandoned our plans to eat in a park, as the clouds had begun to gather and the temperature started drop at an alarming rate. Instead we enjoyed our meal sitting in the car, overlooking the waves at Mouille Point. The kids leaped out as soon as they'd eaten - to examine whatever marine life had been washed ashore. They found what appeared to be the skeleton of a sea-horse (but I'm not so sure) and a spongy star-shaped organism (I have no idea what it was, but it looked pretty).
The kids then insisted on a few minutes in the park / playground. Despite the drop in temperatures, the Mouille Point Park /playground was packed. Since I was already shaking like a leaf, I used sleeping Aisha as an excuse to remain in the cosy warmth of the car.
I had such a lovely day. The kids were well-behaved and happy (for the most part). Their effort in making my day special, had been touching. I was really relaxed, contented and happy.