We were driving back from her ballet exam on Monday and Original Bunn mentioned that all the mothers in her class had done ballet in their childhood days. Well, I said, your granny and great-granny also did.
And what about my great-great-granny? She asked. And I told her I didn’t know, because my granny only found out that the woman who raised her was not her biological mother after she died, by way of a letter written many years before.
My gran was born to a dirt poor family, the seventh child of a couple who were struggling to feed the children they already had. Her mother had a sister who had ‘married away’; to a successful farmer in Parys. This sister, unable to have a child of her own, entered into a pact to raise this new baby as her own, on the proviso that she never again had contact with her biological family.
She was christened Winnifred Agnes and her stories illustrated what seems like an idyllic childhood at the hands of the woman we grew up knowing as Ouma Map. Ouma Map treated Winnie like a doll and Winnie became an elegant woman; I never saw her in sloppy dress or without ‘a powdered nose’. She married my grandfather and I don’t remember them every having cross words, it seemed he had taken on Ouma Map’s determination to treat her as a queen, a precious gift.
Original Bunn, outraged by the notion that a woman would give her baby away, wanted to know if my Nan was sad or cross when she read the letter. I don’t know and it’s too late to ask her. But I’d think not; I’d guess that for all the women in the story, love; of the purest and deepest kind, was the only factor.