- Thuli (not her real name) wakes up every morning to make the long journey to her domestic-worker job
- Thabiso, her grandson, who was abandoned by his mother, inspires Gogo Thuli to get up every day
- The gogo says she can't wait for the day her bright and clever grandson takes her away from this life
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By Brandon Nel - Freelance journalist
Thuli tries to focus on which day of the week it is. If it’s Monday, Wednesday or Friday, she would have to take three taxis to work. Tuesdays and Thursdays are cheaper travel-wise.
She said to Briefly.co.za that she usually gets up with a sigh and grunts when a sharp pain shoots through her hip: “Arthritis is a pain!”
Her grandson, Thabiso, is still asleep when she rises. He is a brilliant pupil and will matriculate this year. Her heart is filled with love because he is a good boy. He could have easily been a 'nyaope child', but his mind is in the right place: education.
After checking that his clean school uniform is laid out on her bed, she kisses him on his forehead and opens the shack door slowly. It still squeaks.
Large amounts of Vaseline have done nothing to still the screech when the zinc door moves in its hinges.
At this time of the morning, township residents are now emerging from their shanty homes, all getting ready to go to work. A few greet Thuli* when she passes, the cold air in front of their mouths visible when they speak.
The road is rough and her feet are frozen by the time she reaches the place where taxies arrive to pick up people. Summers are equally bad.
Then she has to fight her way through puddles and slippery mud, all while trying to avoid getting mud on her neat shoes.
Thabiso promised to take her away from all this one day. She cannot wait!
Her memories venture back to that day when her only daughter, Lindiwe, arrived at her doorstep holding a week-old baby.
That same night she disappeared into thin air as she had done on so many occasions before.
Only this time, she left her son behind! Dlamini nearly fainted when she discovered the sleeping boy by accident at the foot of her bed before she went off to work.
The shock of seeing the infant made goosebumps roll over her skin. What if she had left for work without seeing him?
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Neighbours quickly supplied spare bottles, formula, cloth nappies and clothes, and that morning Dlamini left for work with a baby on her back. He started walking eventually, and it became impossible to tag him along. Her neighbour offered to look after Thabiso, as well as two other toddlers, at a small fee.
Margaret and Vusi were Thabiso’s friends until he was ready to go to school. Margaret still hangs around the kasi.
A skoro-skoro taxi pulls up and Thuli* is relieved when she is able to get in and sit down.
Hopefully, her feet will regain feeling in them before she has to get off at her station.
From there she embarks on another taxi and then a third one, on her way to where she works for a young, struggling family.
She is treated with love and respect, but they could not afford to pay her a bigger salary.
Last year they asked her not to return as they could not afford to give her an increase, but to Thuli, half a loaf is better than an empty bag.
Some day Thabiso will take her away from her struggling life and look after her. He did promise, after all.
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