going to church with her because I was now forced to wear a tie and formal shoes, instead of the shorts and t-shirts, I’m used to wearing in my mom’s church. My grandma had the worst church candy - hard, white peppermints, that tasted, and actually still do taste, like poverty.
I was born in Klerksdorp on June 20, 1990 and was raised by my mom and grandma after my mom and dad got divorced when I was one year old. I was raised Christian since I was a little boy, and I have been surrounded by the religion and a conservative upbringing my entire life. We went to church twice on Sundays, once in the morning and once at night. My mom and I were in an evangelical church with a pastor named Thys. My mom had, and still has, the biggest wonder for this man. She hangs on every word he says and believes his words to be law. He loves preaching about the end times, and because of this my mom has been looking for signs of the end times ever since I can remember. I think I have lived through at least four end times at this stage in my life. Growing up had one constant, and that was that the Lord is coming for us sooner than we think. Of course, as a five year old child, this scared me and sometimes it felt as if I was Christian more because I was scared of going to hell rather than being excited for going to heaven. Grandma Mimi was in the reformed church and that was a stiff business. I hated
My mom, like many others, had to work full time in order to keep a roof over our heads and food on our table, I therefore went to my grandma’s after school. She lives in the relatively poor area of town but there is absolutely no lack of entertainment when it comes to the everyday lives of the residents residing in Loerie Street. Loerie Street is a bit common to be honest, but it was and still is my home. As a little boy I marvelled over my grandma and over the way she did things, like the way she’d move her mouth when she applied make-up, how she went to bed every night with a head full of curlers, and the constant panicked searches for her tooth. I was the only child, which meant I grew up in the company and conversations of grownups. Oma Betty was my great grandmother and she also lived in Loerie Street with my grandma.
days. The dough was being kneaded and the pans were sprayed with Spray and Cook. I am sure that on baking days, my family single handedly contributed to 1/3 of the hole in the ozone layer. I remember how Oma Betty carefully picked up the little balls of dough and dunked them in butter before she gently placed them in the baking tin.
I can remember how my grandma, Oma Betty and I used to go visit the old age homes and how I was told to be a good boy, and that I shouldn’t move or speak too quickly because there were old and sick people where we will be going. I dare not break these rules because my grandma had a short temper (she still does). I remember Aunty Hannie and how she used to pull deeply on her cigarette when we sat in her living room, indulging on something sweet she baked for us. I remember Aunty Baby and Oma Babs, who we used to pick up from the old age home in Hartebeesfontein to come visit us for the weekend. Then there was the baking and brewing. No one could bake anise rusks like Oma Betty, and I recall the chaos, panic and excitement in the kitchen on Satur
Oma Betty's' Anise Rusks
but as I moved into my teenage years, I became a bit hesitant when I had to drive with her.
I was always chased out of the kitchen because I was in the way, and they had a lot of things to do. My grandma struggled to keep her head above water, so there wasn’t really any extra money, and as a result, she never really owned a reliable car. She had to be content with what she could afford, and car troubles have always been a part of her life, from what I can remember. While we’re on the subject of cars, I think it’s necessary for you to know that she kind-of increased speed just before approaching a traffic light, and that all of her rims were scratched and dented since she sometimes drove over part of the sidewalk when she took a corner. In the 90’s I was too stupid to be scared,
When I wasn’t at my grandma’s, I was either at school, or at my mom’s and my apartment when she picked me up from my grandma’s after work. Both my mom and grandma are beautiful women, and have been dressing nicely since I can remember. They spend hours in front of their mirrors, perfecting each line and contour, on their faces. They thoughtfully chose their outfits for each day and finished the look off with a whisper of a generic Estée Lauder perfume, as they weren’t able to afford the original. My grandma has been an agent for Rouelle Fragrances for the past 40 years, and has sold a bottle of these generic perfumes to at least 82% of our town’s population. She tried everything to bring in extra money, and was excessively frugal. She was involved in most of the pyramid schemes breaching the shores of South Africa, and I can specifically remember how excited she was about CoreClub. She used to host nights in our living room to try and have people sign up under her, and I recall how uncle Hennie, Oma Babs, Aunty Hannie and Aunty Marieta all gathered in our living room, reluctantly watching a video on yet another scheme, that will only be on people’s tongues for the next two weeks before they realised that this, too, was yet another waste of their time and money, just like the 15 schemes before.
The CoreClub Ladies
I mentioned earlier that my grandma is short fused, but I forgot to mention that my mom is exactly the same (this must be where I got it from). We all express our frustration in different ways, my mom tends to drive more aggressively than usual and is hard on the breaks, when a traffic light approaches. My grandma on the other hand, started using language that was inappropriate for the ears of an 8 year old boy, and by her tone of voice you just knew that you had to be quiet and obey now. Everything I’m telling you is just to give you a better understanding of how I grew up and what I experienced, so that you have some background knowledge when it comes to the stories I write.
I used to write short stories on my Facebook feed, and it appeared as if people were interested and entertained by them. A lot of people asked me when I would be starting a blog, and wanted to hear more stories. When I moved to Taiwan in 2015, I started missing my family back home. I became nostalgic and thought back to my childhood, especially the times I spent with my grandma and Oma Betty in Loerie Street. I started writing and it was as if I could suddenly see, feel, hear, and smell everything again. I was the boy from the 90’s again, in reality far from home, but yet so close. The writing of these stories was/is a way for me to feel close to my people.
The deeper side of my stories focuses more on my own opinions and observations of the world in which I grew up in, as well as the world I live in today. I am gay, and I have been living a lie for the majority of my life (well up until now) just to keep other people happy. As a closeted gay person you only live a version of yourself that is pleasing to others, in order to avoid judgement and discrimination. I grew up in a house where anything strange or different was seen as wrong and a sin. Five generations grew up in 45 Loerie Street, and my mom and grandma have been surrounded by the same people, with the same perspectives and opinions that they themselves share. As a result, I had a lot of questions when it came to my religion as well as my identity. The deeper side of this blog is where I’ll be writing about these things. It’s important to know that I still consider myself Christian but I believe in a liberal God, as opposed to my parents (mom and grandma) who believe in a conservative God. I personally feel that Jesus was one of the first liberal religious leaders, and it was because of this, that He got murdered. They hate the word “liberal”. To be open-minded about life, and about people, is a sin for them, but it’s also their conservative attitudes that partially provide inspiration for a lot of my stories.
someone who has. I hope you find pleasure in this journey through nostalgia.
See it, feel it, hear it and most importantly, live it!
The titles "Aunty" and "Uncle", are used in my culture as a form of respect, and do not necessarily refer to family.
"Oma" refers to grandma. I refer to a lot of people as "Oma" (pronounced Oh-muh), but only Oma Mimi and Oma Betty are my biological Omas.
Oma Betty, Oma Babs, Aunty Hannie and many others passed away years ago, but today they are alive in my stories. I hear Oma Betty’s gut-wrenching laugh because of her dog, Stoffel, who she loved immensely. I can smell her anise rusks, and I am entranced by the red ember glowing from the tip of Aunty Hannie’s cigarette when she reminisces about the love of her life, Uncle Stollie. A lot of the stories are based on events I have experienced and are told through the eyes of 8 year old me, who had a fine eye for detail, and whose little ears didn’t miss a single word escaping a grownup’s mouth. Of course some extra details are added for the sake of entertainment. Grab a chair and sit with us around the kitchen table, indulge in one of Oma Betty's rusks and sip on a warm coffee made with love by Oma Babs. Smoke a cigarette with Aunty Hannie, and listen to how she tells stories about Uncle Stollie’s liquor store. Maybe you have an Oma Mimi, an Aunty Baby and a Stoffel, or you know