Mama please don’t cry

2014-12-14 20:04

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Firstly, I must express gratitude for being born and living in a part of the world that experiences summer in December. I don’t care how romantic the Hollywood movies try to make the snowy Christmas look, I can think of nothing less merry and happy than freezing my way through the festive season, walking on ice and dressed in torturous winter fashion. Sorry America, you got second prize on this one, nay, third prize.

I usually spend my December holidays at home in the Eastern Cape visiting family. Always a special occasion, of course, ­except for a few factors that come into play, as though to ensure I can’t have the ­romantic summer of my filtered Instagram dreams. Firstly, it’s the bloody summer rains.

Not the romantic kind tinged in my favourite shade of yellow. Nah, the rains of my hometown, King William’s Town, lack the humour. It’s all mud and gumboots. It’s the kind of miserable rain that’ll wash the cheeriest Christmas spirit right off you.

It’s also not one of those cutesy little towns where a granny owns a bakery that shows complete disregard for cardiac health, serving her cookies with a side of mild racism. Nope. It’s an unapologetically unromantic cross section of South African society with no time for fantasies.

It’s a one-major-shopping-centre kind of town too. Come December, the families are back. The town’s residents and everyone from neighbouring townships and villages are out on the streets, and we all want to drop those 13th-cheque Randelas.

As is typical of small towns where the next gravel road is always less that 10 minutes away, there are loads of massive bakkies and the fancier folk drive SUVs.

At the opposite end we have the fixies, and I’m not talking single-gear bikes popular with bearded cool kids. Think 80s Corollas with Tazz engines, and different colour doors from other Corollas that have passed on. Think breakdowns and traffic jams.

And if you think Christmas Eve shopping is a madhouse at big-city shopping centres, try do that in King William’s Town. The little town, which normally takes eight minutes to drive through, suddenly takes at least two hours to drive into.

I shit you not.

In fact, this year I am tempted to do the unthinkable – to stay put in my chosen city, Cape Town. I’ll spend my days occasionally growling and spitting at tourists as the mood takes. When I feel particularly friendly, I might even save visiting Joburgers from ­themselves by splitting their little groups and reminding them Cape Town does not begin and end on Long Street.

I’m even imagining drives into Western Cape towns as far more romantic than the one I call home, where I can order freshly baked goods and complain about small-town racism, bigotry and homophobia.

How will I explain this decision to the family? If there is anything that is constant with Eastern Cape people, or “refugees” as Madam Zille likes to call us, it’s that we always go home for the holidays.

Once, a long time ago, I skipped home and went to Maputo instead. I can still hear the disappointment in my mother’s voice when I told her. I wonder how it’ll go when I break this freshly baked batch of disappointment to her.

Wish me luck. And if your hometown is anything like mine, I wish you luck.

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