Taking Wing

2007-12-15 00:00

I call my granny Kreuzfeld Jakob because she’s a mad old cow, says Milly. Haai Milly! say I, you mustn’t talk about dignified old people like that, because um, er … My ma says God will punish me, says Milly, but I’ve been calling her mad old cow since I was fifteen and God hasn’t caught up with me yet, so I reckon maybe She too thinks Granny’s a mad old cow. Well whom do you mean by She and how old are you now? say I. I am now sixteen, Milly declares, and my Auntie Avis who lives in Joburg and she’s smart, she asks how you can tell God is not a lesbian Kalahari Bushwoman and for my part I believe She is. Auntie Avis says if God supervised the stealth bombing of Baghdad as President Bush claims, and by night with all the city lights on so it would show up nicely for the newsreels, then He must be a nasty male middle-class Anglo-Saxon Republican Party no-good sonofabitch, and for my part I’d rather just go to the Devil’s church. Haaai man Milly! say I, you mustn’t say things like that, what if the Devil should hear you, hey? Well my Auntie Avis knows an old rabbi who told her Heaven’s all right, but Hell’s the place for pals.

Ja, says Milly, my granny says science is destroying human culture because people use teabags these days and the art if teacup reading is at an end. She says only common people get the tea in the cup first then put in the sugar and stir it up and then put in the milk. The proper way is to put the milk in the cup first, then you pour in the tea with loose leaves, but you don’t shake the pot and you don’t use a strainer because people will think you are working class and have to save on tea, then you put in the sugar and you stir it a bit but not too much, because then people will think you have to save on sugar. Now you drink it with your little finger sticking out but not right down to the last drop because that’s vulgar. You must leave half an inch at the bottom of the cup and the teacup reader swirls that around sort of daintily and tips it into the saucer in a genteel kind of way and examines the tealeaves stuck all over the inside of the cup and predicts your future from her findings.

My granny has a great big thing like a kitchen cupboard only it’s all shiny like a piano and it’s called a radiogram and it stands in her lounge, and if you lift up the great big wooden lid you see a great big black DVD the size of a soup plate, no bull, and when you switch on the motor this thing gives you the motion sickness, no bull, and Granny sticks a steel needle on it with a long arm and a voice comes out like somebody singing underwater and she moves to the middle of the carpet and jerks about and says it’s a tango or a samba or something Brazilian.

Besame (she sings) besame mucho (which means Kiss me a lot)

Each time I look in your eyes I hear music divine,

Besame mucho, kiss me my darling and say that you’ll always be mine.

That’s not divine music, says Milly, it’s somebody drowning. Cheeky bugger, hey; why should I always be his if I already belong to myself? If some bloke said that to me I’d kick him up the crutch! I find myself instinctively folding my hands over those parts, but casually, somewhat Like a sporran. And that’s not all, says Milly, it goes on:

Dearest one, if you should leave me

Each little dream would take wing snd my life would be through,

Besame mucho and say that you’ll always be true.

Bloody hell! says Millie, his crappy dreams can take wing and his pissy little life be through any time he thinks, thanks, and why should I be true to such a wet, I mean what’s in it for me, hey? Three meals a day for his bloody kids?

So what does your mother think of all this, then? say I to Milly. Ag, she’s so busy with us lot she doesn’t have time to think about anything at all, says she. Four kids in eight years and all my father’s little dreams took wing and he flew off with some dollybird with great big tits. But not for me, I’ve got myself, what more can I want? Well how about a nice daughter? say I. Like yourself? Hell, says she, would you like a daughter like me? I’ve already got one like you, say I, also her boetie. And suddenly after getting them all my little dreams took wing and I got stuck in prison and all that kak, and now they are all that I have. You might think about that. Hey?

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