And then there were none: an ode to the Thembisa 10
Oh where are those 10 darling tots? It’s one year on and we’ve seen them not. Their birthday we wanted to celebrate. To light candles and bake a cake. Please, don’t tell us they were just a fake. For our hearts would surely in pieces break
A mom who we heard was
the best in the herd
Was blessed with largesse,
So said all the press,
Ten babes in her tum,
Oh wonderful mum!
From near and from yonder,
Folks looked up in wonder
A fable, a miracle!
What a fine chronicle!
We waited and waited,
with all our breath bated
For the day that the stork
would do its fine work
Oh, when would they come,
ten bundles of fun?
The president himself did fondly decree
All over the country the people would see
A day for our nation
to embrace celebration
To sing and rejoice
in one unified voice
Our laughs and our whoops
Our tears and salutes
The pope declared miracles —
these tiny popsicles
The stars burned bright
sweet twinkles of light
From France to Kuwait
they did fascinate
From Rio to Hanoi,
Folks sang out of joy
Happy heads of state
Did dance and ululate,
We played guessing games:
what would be their names?
Sipho, Thabo and Ben?
Sweet Mary-Ann, Thandi or Jen?
Vusi and Jack? Tshego or Jill?
Mary and Pinkie? Julius or Bill?
Would all the babes want to suck? Oh mommy, we wish you lots of luck!
Would all the babes want to suck?
Oh mommy, we wish you lots of luck!
Would there be bootees and bibs for all?
A nanny and granny always on call?
We hoped for a carer, a sergeant-at-arms,
To dress and redress, with oil and sweet balms
An opera, a play, a movie a script,
their tale was already a fabulous hit
Mommy would cluck just like a hen
her precious brood, a fabulous ten
she’d be in heaven
Ten cots for the tots —
is that asking a lot?
What about noise
From her girls and boys?
The baby cacophony,
Or elaborate symphony
An opera or sonata,
soprano or cantata!
The story did fascinate
and sums we could aggregate:
A decade, a decimal,
A century of toes
and mountains of clothes
Bonny cheeks 20,
Of thumbs there’d be plenty
Mom and pop would never be bored,
With their lot a Guinness record
Seven boys togged out in baby blue,
three girls dressed up in a different hue.
All those shorts and all those shirts
All those blouses, and what about skirts?
Mountains of socks
and plenty of jocks
Lorries with Pampers,
biltong and hampers
All things in bulk,
or else they might sulk
The fridge would be jammed
With good wors and ham
Eggs and salami,
cheese and pastrami
Among all the siblings,
would be no quibbling
Mom would be strict,
no food would be nicked
They’d eat all their greens
And not make a scene
Or there’d be no jellies,
to fill all their bellies.
Who would do dishes?
Grant mommy’s wishes!
The aunts in the hood
The kind and the good
With Handy Andy and lots of Omo,
Lucky Mom would not go solo.
They would buy a much bigger house
For ma, the babes (and the dear spouse)
A longer table to stretch out far
For each little sibling and mom and pa
A bag of tots to be watered and fed
With Marmite and jam and slices of bread
Buckets of Nando’s, and Wimpy on call,
Chicken Licken and Coke for them all
From the big shops all the loyalty cards
For all the promotions mom will look hard
Game, Pep Stores and Mr Price,
The big shops would mommy try to entice
A red carpet out at Pick n Pay
if mama wanted to pass that way.
Ten bottles to clean and also to scrub.
Two hundred toes and fingers to rub
Endless loads and Purity hampers,
not to mention mountains of Pampers
Bunnies and toys, for each girl and boy,
Loads of prezzies for the decuplet of joy
But what to do when load-shedding struck?
Bathe the babies or clean up their muck?
Were they ever real, would papa recall
Their imaginary names, one, nine, and all?
What about teacher, or reverend preacher?
Would the school be forever in shock
should the tots start running amok?
And hubby, was he just a regular guy,
or would he leave mommy high and so dry?
Every night would he slip away to the pub,
To down his beer and eat his grub?
Away from the cries and buckets of bibs,
far from the bawling and brawling sibs
The ten tots would have loads of fun,
Enjoy every game under the sun
Barbies, Smurf and Lego for all,
hilarity when they kicked at the ball
They would go to the beach to splash in the sea
With cozzies, bright lilos one ice cream or three
There to build a large sand bank
Bury dad in it, shoulder to shank
Imagine a lifeguard, with binos to scan
The particulars of this extraordinary clan
Ten merry faces and 100 toes
– oh and the fingers, don’t forget those.
The lifeguard’s face would turn a bright blue:
“Get out the water you, you and you!”
After their visit he’d throw in his towel:
“Can’t do this no more,” he sadly would howl
They’d go to London to meet the Queen,
pat her corgis and suss out the scene
Down palace corridors they’d merrily slide;
under the throne they’d cheekily hide
Upon my word, what a strange sight!
Ten babies, if my eyes serve me right
Her majesty would loudly and proudly proclaim,
“Methinks, life will never be the same again!”
In Hollywood from a black limousine,
the ten would happily smile and preen
Social media influencers they would surely become
– to their whims and wishes, all would succumb
On Twitter they’d be trending rather a lot,
No doubt they’d always be super hot
From Rio, Sydney and Timbuktu,
from Dallas, Jozi and fair Peru
They’d follow their antics,
Their jokes and semantics,
But hark, oh reader, let’s take a pause —
Our merry tale has one or two flaws
We’ve waited in vain
through thunder and rain
A year has come and a year has gone
Now is the time the ten should turn one
But out there there is nary a sign
Of our ten tots completely divine
Gone with the breeze,
Like a sigh or a sneeze.
The babes have vanished into thin air: Our tears flow and we wait in despair.
No gurgles and cries from the cot;
giggles and laughs there are not.
The babes have vanished into thin air:
Our tears flow and we wait in despair
No bundles of joy, no glimmer of hope,
Not for the Queen, neither the pope
Can we now ask the obvious question
That gives us a bout of bad indigestion
What did we see in mommy’s tummy,
A bag of foam or one big dummy?
How sad we are at this turn of fate
This miserable and sorrowful state
No onesies, and not even a bib
A conjuror’s trick, an enormous fib
But we will always remember
From March to September
The tots we did not hug and get to see
And love them for all eternity
Ten little stars burning so bright
So far away, in the depth of the night
We wish you well in Never-Never Land
We hope life there is lovely and grand