Beauty Sikelela opened her eyes at 5:58am. Twenty seven and a half years of having to wake at the same time every morning (except for Thursdays which was her day off) had taught her body to wake up before the alarm went off – probably better so with her angina problems. The bed complained as she eased her large frame upright and aimed for the floor with her tiptoes. Her bed was raised on bricks in the custom of her ancestors in defence against the Tokoloshe, the tiny half-man half-monster which terrifies those who are unprepared at night. She said a prayer and put on her robe.

After a wash in the basin of her small quarters she donned her uniform of matching dress and headscarf. Then carefully opening the door with the broom in hand, she peeped to see whether the dogs were in the courtyard. That small one! Last week he got his teeth into the ankle of her sister’s firstborns’ daughter’s boyfriend’s little brother. Ag! Bafana howled but the Madam yelled at him to stop running because the dogs will only chase him more.

They’re probably still sleeping off all that extra spicy piri-piri braaivleis dinner.

She entered the kitchen of the sprawling home with relief and went to prepare a tea tray to take through to the family. While waiting for the kettle to boil, she cut generous slices of bread for herself and the new gardener and layered them thickly with margarine and apricot jam. She had heard him grumbling as he was raking yesterday, “Trees are no good, they make too much work”.

She had snorted, the only thing a tree was any good for was shade for his after lunch nap.

But he was a Zimbabwean, they were different up there, sho!  Being an AmaXhosa herself who had left Kafferskraal (why they never change that name?) down in the Eastern Cape at fourteen years of age to find work in the big city Jo’burg, she knew what it was like to say goodbye and then have to learn to be someone new. She heard the back gate rattle and his whistling before she saw his cautious booted foot and rolled-up newspaper. Ehweh – you need them with those big-teeth injas running loose.

She placed the teapot and carefully lifted the tray. As she thudded along the thickly carpeted bedroom corridor she could hear the murmur of voices coming from the master suite. The family were all waiting for their tea.

“Good morning Beauty!”

“Morning Masta, Mem, Frankie, Dominique”.

Mrs Haynes said. “Thank you Beauty. Listen, I’ll be with you jusnow to talk about the tennis party today. I’ll have to pop out to Petronella’s this morning to pick up the cake but I’d like you to make cupcakes. The ladies will be here at three so they need to be ready by then, hey?”

“Yes Mem”.

Mr Haynes didn’t look up from his phone, “Why don’t you let her take the Beemer to fetch the cake herself now that I paid for all the lessons?”

Back in the kitchen Beauty opened the window and stuck out her head.

“Praise God!” She yelled.

“PRAISE GOD!” She yelled again.


A head in a woolly hat popped up from beneath the window, causing her to step back in alarm.

“I’m here,” said the new man, producing a half-chewed newspaper.

Haikona, don’t give me such frights! Here’s your brekfis”.

She swapped a tin plate and steaming mug for the paper.

Beauty settled down with the tattered Times to enjoy her breakfast but her thoughts turned to her children. Mr Haynes had given them big money to make something better of their lives. Fundiswa – she did well working at a smart company after going to university to learn about economics and other Western ideas. But Ntando was a different story. His ideas of bettering himself were all about a shiny car and fancy shoes. And his newest no-good girlfriend was expecting his third baby.

Beauty rubbed her forehead with her palm.

 Hawu! Just look at these thin-body fashion ladies in the paper.

The house phone rang, and rumbling to the hall with her pumping elbows doing most of the motion, she picked up on the final ring. “Hello?” she gasped.

“Hello Beauty. This is Mrs Phumela Mashaba from next door. I’m instructing my Pilates class outside so please pray quietly. The shouting is very disturbing”.

“Sorry Mrs Mashaba, already,” she rolled her eyes and slammed the receiver down.

A ping sound in her pocket was a reminder to check her own phone – an email.

Pheeeeewwwww- 25,000 followers!

For the first time that morning she smiled; time to get baking so she could update her blog on


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