Karoo door, Hanover, Northern Cape – South Africa.
I took this photo last year December on a road trip through the Karoo. I love doors. To me they symbolise closure, the possibility of new beginnings, expectation and safety. I think something I’m learning is to not be too hasty to close the door on grief. I have to properly grieve what I’ve lost in my life – the absence of a proper childhood, a mother and a father. I have to mourn what I never had. I’m not going to close the door on this too quickly – I have to grieve so I can find constructive ways to move forward and build a life filled with happy memories.
One of the things I like to write about is memory. I have a handful of beautiful memories from my childhood that I hold on too so tightly – my childhood years were filled with so much trauma and fear and that’s why the good memories are so important to me. One of earliest good memories – I must have been about 6 or 7 years old – is of catching flying ants under a lamp pole in the street with my nanny, Rosina. Random I suppose, but it was such are carefree and happy moment.
It was a hot balmy evening and we walked down to the lamp pole at the corner of the street. Rosina held my hand and told me I mustn’t walk in the middle of the road. I was wearing shorts, a t-shirt and slops. She showed me how to catch the flying ants that were attracted to the light. I was jumping up towards them, grabbed them in my hand, and stuffed them in a plastic container.
We were out there for a long time. I was concentrating on my task but I was also listening to Rosina talking to her friends who were also catching ants. I didn’t understand what they were saying. They were speaking sotho.
I remember feeling free and child-like that evening. I was having fun.
Then we went back to the house, removed the wings and fried the ants in butter (I know, sounds quite hectic now that I think of it). In traditional African culture it is a common practice to fry flying ants in butter – it is very nutritious and tasty.
Decades later I don’t really know why this is such a prominent memory. I read something that said memories are the architecture of our identity – and I think there’s truth in that. Some days the bad memories still knock me down and this is why the good ones are so precious to me. I have beautiful memories of Rosina. She tried her best to shelter me from my parents when they were fighting – I remember she would always take me to her room and I would lie on her bed and watch TV. I would stay there for hours. She was a safe refuge.