To my mother: for taking care of us all.

“I don’t like it, but I have to do it – otherwise you’ll die,” she says. The knife she holds is sharp and slim. It gets the job done. Soon, tears would escape from the corners of her eyes and trickle down her cheeks. The onion is chopped.

Splat. The pan sizzles as a combination of onion and tears hits the aubergine, pepper, butternut and zucchini. The purple, red, orange, green contents in the pan contrast with the gloom of the day – May has arrived. And soon, with the welcome of winter, the Sunday roasts will change to warm curries. In her Kitchen, it is loud. Vibrant conversation swifts through the air as cupboards, drawers and pantries open and close, open and close. Some of the stove’s nobs are missing. The kettle leaks. And the microwave fails to function too. It has been years living in this kitchen where fast lives slow down. This is the kitchen where school sandwiches were made and extravagant Christmas lunches were prepared. But, she admits, she does not like cooking. No. Not in any way.

Click. Click. Click. She sets the stove on high. She cooks two pots of food at a time. The one: meat. The other: no meat – her children are fussy and have minds of their own. She tosses, twists and turns the food – but never tastes it. A loud creek sounds as the stove door opens. In goes the chicken. In go the potatoes. Then, another loud creek sounds as the stove door closes. She walks away. Seconds pass and she returns with a mop in hand. Gently, she lifts the table slightly to the left and fits the broom in tightly, just so it reaches the stove and keeps it shut. “Soos hulle sê: ’n boer maak ’n plan,” she says. In this case: a mother.

Feature image by Hannah Inacio