Like any good aunt, I like to spoil my brother’s two daughters. When I fly down to visit, I love nothing more than taking them to a shopping mall and buying them every little thing they point to. It drives my brother nuts. Which is admittedly about 94% of the allure.

I’m in love with what they love. Their little-girl eyes are drawn to the those pink, ridiculous trinkets they keep on the shelves where you queue at the cashiers. You know, those shelves that receive you with long, open arms, that carry lines and lines of candy that you really shouldn’t buy and didn’t come here to buy but damnit you’re standing here now and it all looks so delicious. Those are the things that hurried and budget-focused moms and dads dread…because those little pink trinkets are ridiculous to adult stares, but a world of enchantment to eyes a bit lower down to the floor… Those are the things visiting aunts buy.

But I’ve also bought my nieces a heap of books that remain in time-out on a shelf. My brother and his wife are wonderful parents but neither of them are readers. And I live six galaxies away from them. The girls may one day discover a love of reading, but for now, they remain unconvinced by stories that you have to patiently coax out of hiding.

And I’m so sorry about that. Because reading forms part of the small things that make life wonderful…

Well well well…would you look at that transition because what I really want to talk about is this book I just finished: Small Things, but Nthikeng Mohlele.

The thing I like about stories…books, movies, the lady standing by the busstop, whatever…is falling in love with characters. If there ain’t no good and interesting people in it, I’m not gonna bite. And in this book I fell completely in love with the main character whose name you never even learn. This damn book tore my heart right out of my chest, dropped it in a slowcooker, and hit HIGH.

And I loved it.

In my search for meaning, which I hope continues until my last hours, it really is the small things and I hope to bits that my nieces get to discover this too. Meaning lies in the stories that makes your heart a bit fuller. The little girl hugs that remind you that you might not have kids but you sure will gladly die for this one. The students who say ‘thank you ma’am’. The friends who arrange a food train to drop food at your house when you’re on your back with a shattered ankle. Losing weight…and gaining it back but remaining as strong and healthy as a horse throughout. The perfect nailpolish color. The smell of good wine. My cat recognising my voice…and then ignoring it anyway. The perfect ratio of salt and vinegar on fries…

Life is nice. And I’m grateful.

Chococino it is…


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