Born a Crime
The names Xhosa families give their children always have a meaning, and that meaning has a way of becoming selfl-fulfiling. You have my cousin, Mlungisi. 'The Fixer.' That's who he is. Whenever I got into trouble he was the one trying to help me fix it. He was always the good kid, doing chores, helping around the house. You have my uncle, the unplanned pregnancy, Velile. 'He Who Popped Out of Nowhere.' And that's all he's done his whole life, disappear and reappear. He'll go off on a drinking binge and then pop back up out of nowhere a week later.
Then you have my mother, Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah. 'She Who Gives Back.' That's what she does. She gives and gives and gives. She did it even as a girl in Soweto. Playing in the streets she would find toddlers, three- and four-year-olds, running around unsupervised all day long. Their fathers were gone and their mothers were drunk. My mom, who was only six or seven herself, used to round up the abandoned kids and form a troop and take them around to the shebeens. They'd collect empties from the men who were passed out and take the bottles to where you could turn them in for a deposit. Then my mom would take that money, buy food in the spaza shops, and feed the kids. She was a child taking care of children.
When it was time to pick my name, she chose Trevor, a name with no meaning whatsoever in South Africa, no precedent in my family. It's not even a Biblical name. It's just a name. My mother wanted her child beholden to no fate. She wanted me to be free to go anywhere, do anything, be anyone.
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