Sindiswa Busuku-Mathese (1990 - ) is a Durban born writer. She was raised by her mother, a Sotho domestic worker from the Eastern Cape, and her adoptive father, a Yorkshireman who sold cars along Umgeni Road. The strangeness of her childhood, along with themes of family, identity, and belonging have been important issues throughout her work.
She has an Honours degree in English Studies and a Masters in English Studies with focus on creative writing from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She wrote a poetic collection, Babyshoes, for her dissertation in 2013, under the supervision of award-winning South African poet Kobus Moolman. Her poetry has since featured in several South African poetry journals such as New Coin, Prufrock, Ons Klynji, Aerodrome, and the Sol Plaatje European Union Anthology. She was subsequently awarded second place winner for the 2015 Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Awards for her poem 'Portrait of A Mother and Indiscretion'.
Sindiswa has recently been awarded a 2016 scholarship by the Graduate School for Arts and Social Sciences for full-time doctoral study at Stellenbosch University. In 2016, her first poetry collection, Loud and Yellow Laughter, was published by Botsotso.
Photographer: The Father
(Her first pink tricycle - 1992)
She is (not) my child.
I stop at Shell for petrol.
The attendant washing my window,
staring at her in the baby seat, knows.
In my trolley at Pick ‘n Pay,
she is playing with my cheque book.
The cashier scanning our groceries, she knows.
Pushing her around the driveway,
making car noises on her new tricycle,
the neighbour’s gardener glances over, he knows.
She is (not) my child.
Years after the War, after our war. I found a porcupine man sitting on his haunches on the balcony. I stood behind the glass door. He was naked. Thousands of shrapnel splinters stood on end. He was staring up at a grey sky. Eyes gripped open by an ugly morning downpour. I slid the glass door open just wide enough to yell, “Brother, you’re going to rust.”
Maybe all he remembered
was how you sat with him in the white rain
on the stone wall where your whispers hung beneath his feet.
Maybe it was your back
bare and curling into hands of half-light
or the slow turn of your face against a greying sense of time.
Maybe left overs of laughter
from garden strings your fingertips reined
to hold that place taut before it all slipped away from you.
He went away from you
with a wink and a formal bow
barefoot with trousers rolled to the knees
dancing homeward on those big dillydally feet.
And you still sit on a wall calling for him not to grow old
shouting into fog, Will you remember me? Will you remember me?
Portrait of a Mother and Indiscretion
My mother smells of indiscretion – in fact she smells of strange things. Not camphor or ZamBuk; not of anything familiar.
My mother walks slowly, crossing the bedroom in high- heeled shoes. In my grey window I see the sky. In the sky the moon is round. She hides her smile behind the curtain lace and whispers, “My child sees everything. ”
I’m waiting for her to hang her winter coat. I am eager to glimpse her body. Buttons fall away. She is kneeling at my bedside, upright. Her hand on mine. It’s raining. She is lipsticked and caressing my face. The moon is dead. Her hands don’t feel the same anymore. The stars have gone out. I turn and bite her sad hand; she flies backwards. I am loud and yellow laughter. I whisper back, “My mother wears a disguise for my eyes only.”
My mother is an old woman. She is no longer young. Yet I smell her indiscretion. I have smelt it on her for days. She has been laughing and smiling without restraint.