A childhood made up

Noseweek|May 2020

A childhood made up
Living with my mother’s madness
Martin Welz

I WAS TWO YEARS OLD WHEN THE EARTH-QUAKE of 1969 shook mother earth beneath me with such a force it woke me in my cot. I’ve subsequently read that the seismic wave was six points five on the Richter scale. There hadn’t been an earthquake in the Western Cape since 1809 and there hasn’t been one since, but my mother lived in dread of earthquakes from then on, often detecting ominous tremors in the earth. She was also convinced it was only a matter of time before a tidal wave would wash Cape Town out to sea.

“There was an eerie rumbling that built into a crescendo – a shuddering roar,” my mother recalled. “The whole building was shaking; the paintings went skew; bottles danced on the table. We grabbed you and all of us ran out into the street.


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May 2020