Mothers must not fear to tell

My neighbour's maid came to me spitting fire over her "first born's" latest stunt. At the age of 23, this child thinks he can jump over his mom as if she's fainted and scratch for his father's whereabouts, she said. It's as if she never expected it. You have to think of your child as a retard to think they won't start asking about their missing daddies.

These are the people who live in so much denial, they point to the east instead of the west. And I would understand a little if this particular pool of mothers were married to other people and feared discriminating against one child to make them feel like an apple in a bag of oranges.

It's single mothers who still harbour resentment over their fall-out with the fathers after the pregnancy that I have a problem with. This kind of disclosure has to be made before the old crock kicks the bucket because there are more who do than those who don't.

There's no need to wait for the child to ask, it's a tough subject to broach.

So, Anna thinks her son is being disrespectful and is even threatening to renounce him. Why, when he never asked for them to get together in the first place?

I remember when I set about looking for my own exile. My dad also bailed out on my mom and that's no reason for my "so-called" anger towards men. I don't have daddy issues.

Anyway, I started scratching and hit a brick wall on all four corners and above my head. Eventually, I had to ask, at the age of 14, imagine.

"No, I hear he's still very much alive. He works somewhere in uMthatha. I'll try and find him for you."

Within two weeks, contact had been established and my father was now speaking with me on the phone asking about my grades like he was an A student and asking about my music like he stood to benefit.

All the while, I had this perfect picture in my head.

"He must look nothing less than Steve Biko because all that wait had better be worth it," I told my friend.

"What if he rocks up looking like James Brown?" she teased me and my heart fell.

"Or maybe he looks like Mr T of the A-Team," she pushed the chain saw further in.

Yes chances were very high that he would emerge looking like a wolf. What if he didn't really have R500000 like I had bragged to other kids years earlier? Oh no, he was going to have to organise himself the money and the car and the looks. No negotiations about it, I thought as I struggled to fall asleep that night.

My mother was also getting her own sleepless nights about this because she started worrying about her wardrobe. Clearly his opinion of her mattered.

"You see, the last time your father saw me I was a model even with you as my clutch bag. His image of me hasn't changed because he didn't see me grow old, so I'm just as nervous about meeting him as you are," she warned through her cup of green tea.

And my step daddy was sulking. I think he feared that I would forget our weekends of gumboot dancing boozing at the hostel - he took me along wherever he went. Maybe he thought the seed of reality would grow out of control. Did my biological father rule the roost still? The suspense was not kind to our household and I'm sure even our imminent meeting was still a secret in his household.

Then he rocked up in a van that had seen much, much better days. He didn't look handsome or as strong as an ox. Great. Then he tried to kiss me affectionately on the cheek. Bad move. He asked about my June results. Dude come on. Then he opened his wallet. Not a bad start. He showed me a box. One carried a music blaster and the other cute winter clothes and I learnt later that my mom was seen pocketing a few hundred rand notes when I was busy celebrating.

The reunion was nice, but short-lived. It only confirmed that I only wanted to see him. Curiosity got the better of me, that's all. My step dad was my real father and he understood me better than my real dad.

But when I heard my father had died, something in me died. I was distraught, wishing I had given him more chances to get to know me. He was my blood after all and I'm sure he loved me in his special way.

So, when Anna said she would die first before she would see the day, I was indifferent. Perhaps the dynamics are too complex for my simple mind. But if my child didn't know her dad and wanted to find out, I wouldn't be a stumbling block and confirm it to my child that maybe I was the reason for his bolting in the first place.