Grandmother Power

* This was meant to be posted leading up to Mother’s day as part of a campaign paying homage to Grandmothers. I could’t do it then but I thought I would post anyway, even though it’s late*

With a cup of sweet milky tea in one hand and a cigarette in the other; a husky voice and a deep, throaty laugh; a witty quip in one pocket and a soothing handkerchief in the other; she was a woman that everyone loved.

With thick grey hair that told stories of a life fully lived, and soft wrinkly skin that showed experiences fully had, she was both a gentle soul and a fierce lioness.

From the scrawny neighbourhood kid, to the friendly milk man, the doctor doing his rounds, and the drunkard down the road, she was known simply as Gran…

…the Light that safely brought to shore the broken, the wrecked and the wary. The most wretched of sailors would find a warm, comforting meal at her table just as the most gentlemanly would.

If you found yourself out in the cold or staggering in the dark, alone or misunderstood, the intoxicating smell of thyme would lead you back into her kitchen, her table and the embrace of her food.

With not a question asked or a cross word spoken, she would talk, laugh and tease you, all the while quietly weaving something magical from her heart through her hands and into the food, so that with every bite that you took, you would feel like you’ve come home.

And there is nothing quite like feeling you’ve come home. That she knew.

Of course she had her own little secrets in the kitchen. Like the special ingredients in her mac and cheese, the special way that she fried her steak and the special flavour in her tomato gravy.

She didn’t go to culinary school, take a course or read a book to learn how to cook. She just did it. With love. A smile. And a story.

Those were her most special ingredients. And that is why she made you feel so good. And that is why she is missed so terribly.

Now I can’t give away all her secrets but I can give you a few tips that I’ve learnt:

  • When you receive visitors into your home, move your ass into the kitchen
  • While you hit those pots, tell a story, crack a joke or just smile
  • Make more than you need, dish up more than you should
  • Always take a slice of bread and soak up all the goodness at the bottom of the pot/pan because that’s where all the flavour is
  • End with a cup of sweet, milky tea

I sometimes think the act of bringing food is one of the basic roots of all relationships. – Dalai Lama

I think Gran knew the Dalai Lama too.

Back in the day!

Back in the day!

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I see her Rise!

As I sit in my makeshift office drinking green tea, I look out from the mountain top view of the city, and I ponder the state of my nation.

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From where I sit I see green. Lots of it. And scattered amongst the greenery I see buildings.
And in those buildings I see people.
And amongst those people I see women. Grandmothers, mothers, daughters, sisters, nieces, cousins and aunts.
I see faces of every race, of every culture and of every age.
I see a swollen lip, puffy eye, and a bruised upper arm. I see the burn mark, the choke mark and the horrific bite mark.
I see the slap, the punch and the kick. I see the shove into the mirror, the push against the wall and the throw to the floor.
I see bruises, cuts and blood. I see fractured, I see broken and I see dead.
I see the heartache, the pain and the suffering.
I see the guilt, the shame and the blame.
I see fear.
Turn to anger. To outrage. To protest.
On the horizon from where I sit, I see a sea of blue sky and soft marshmallow clouds. I see birds and I see sun
And I see change.
I see her power, her body and her country
Re-claimed.
On the horizon from where I sit, I see her. Un-shamed. Un-blamed. Un-tamed.
I see her.
Rise.
I see her Rise!
I see her Rise!

If the statistic is true that a woman is raped every 4 minutes in South Africa, then in the time it has taken me to write this post, 60 woman have been raped. Are we angry yet?