Growing up in the same household, exactly two years and one day apart in age, the thing we
shared most, my sister and I, was the bathroom. More different we could not have been. While I
would be chatting to Anna in the kitchen as she prepared supper, having done my homework
next door at the Parkview Library (Johannesburg) painstakingly copying out paragraphs from
their Encyclopedias (no photocopiers , scanners, iphones) Rox could be found playing pinball at
the Tyrone Fruiteres. Or lighting fire crackers in the tunnels at Zoo Lake with the boys
of the hood.
She was feisty, my sis. She played goalie for the first hockey team and a mean game of tennis. At
varsity she was one of boys- clocking up records for downing the most beers at the Pig (the
famous old Pig and Whistle Pub in Rondebosch, sadly no longer) and becoming the first female
cheerleader, swinging her baton in front of the IKEYS crowd against the mighty MATIES at the
annual rugby clash.
‘Who’s that?’ my first year UCT mates would ask when we attended the round of heats in Jammie
Hall the year she was elected. ‘You won’t believe it, but it’s my sister’ I whispered to the girl next
Next minute she was racing up Jammie Stairs holding a make-shift wooden boogie-board type
thing and flinging herself onto it in mid-air, smacking down onto the unforgiving stone stairs as
she flew to the bottom to be stopped by a flimsy looking mattress which was held up to stop her
path. Had she kept up her speed, she might well have collided straight into the pensive looking
Rhodes statue and saved us all a lot of angst.
Today she runs a successful series of three restaurants on the beautiful Garden Route. People
from far and even further book months in advance to sample her award winning, self-taught,
self-made style of food from The Girls, Flava Café and Roxi’s On the Square. Even PJ POWERS
chose Flava Café to launch her book, Here I am.
But no, this isn’t a food blog.
It’s about my sis and me. And maybe a little about diversity.
For she has a beautiful head of thick, thick short hair, mine’s thin and long.
Her body is decorated with tattoos, mine ages without.
My skin doesn’t really do well in the sun; hers seems to bronze like the color of the foil of butter
she used to suntan with, years ago around our pool.
My house is filled with kids and dogs, hers with cats and DVD’s.
If you want to understand the latest gadget, need to change a faulty wire, or need something
digitally dissected, give her a shout. I have yet to record a TV program on a DVD (I believe TV’s
can be paused or rescheduled to watch at a more convenient time?)
She’s gay, I’m not. My house is full of books, her head is filled with what next shall we cook!
And then we took a little trip, my big sister and I. Off to Jerusalem we went, for the day, while the
rest of the family went their own way. (WRITING HABIT : Rhyme always creeps in when I need to
pick up the pace and have been laboring for too long on one piece. This is not necessarily good
or advisable but it adds a sentence or two. )
Here’s the back story:
My aunt- my mother’s sister- turned 90 on 9 June (co-incidentally she shares this date with my
sister) and as we did when their older sister turned 90 (two years ago, also in June – June is a
busy month in our family though she sadly passed away a year later) the tribe comes to
celebrate. I didn’t plan to go, having just been on a wonderful trip just weeks before, but you
know what ? When people turn 90 you need to celebrate with them. And not only because most
of their friends aren’t there anymore, but simply because part of them is part of you.
So there we were, my sis and I, in the holy land of Israel. The last time we’d been
there was in 1973.
It was time to pack our traveling pants and take a trip.
And it seemed ironic that it was in Jerusalem that we shared such special memories for it is a
fascinating place where three dominant and diverse religions of Christians, Jews and Muslims
alike lay claim to Jerusalem as their holy city.
I decided that my sister and I were a microcosm of this holy place: bound by both common
history and diverse daily rhythms, where focused time allows you to dig deeper and reveal new
insights, and perhaps ultimately understand, that in the end, we are all threads of a
shared human existence.
But there is one thing that I alone can lay claim to : my own unique sister. And how special is that ? !