I am lucky to have travelled to many countries, but I have always felt my heart leap when the plane’s wheels touch down at Cape Town International Airport and the Table is visible, Robben Island is spotted and, without fail, tears are shed at coming home.
Because you are my home.
You made me who I am, together with the teachings, morals and values instilled in me by my parents.
I am sure the council must be fed up with me because even my former pupils and my friends think I am weird.
I make mental notes of every broken drain, out-of-order street light, dented guard rail, pothole, piece of illegal graffiti - and 101 other issues - in all the suburbs I drive through.
Sometimes my ageing brain cannot hold all the info, so I stop safely and legally and report them all one by one to the council, or write them all down to report individually when I get home.
My children ask me why I bother. And I answer, “Because if I don’t do it, who will? And we need to make this city better. We need to look beyond our own needs and wants”.
I am sure I am not the only one, though.
However, a few months ago I found myself drained. I call it compassion fatigue.
Helping animals, my former pupils and homeless people on the streets - it all became too much.
And I was angry. Ward councillors get paid upwards of R20 000 a month. Would it kill them to drive around their areas once a week to check on issues like this and report them?
I know they have their duties and endless meetings, but surely if I can manage to do this during an 18-hour day running around, they can too.
So I decided to stop caring so much. I stopped reporting everything, even though it bothered me terribly to drive by something and not report it.
I consciously said out loud every time, “I don’t care any more”. But it sounded terrible to my ears.
And anyone who knows me well, as my friends and former pupils do, knows that that isn’t me.
So last week, I started caring again. And so the reporting started again: blocked drains; burst pipes; roads that needed urgent repaving after roadworks as it felt like going over a donga; single street lights out of order; illegal dumping; men cutting the fence along the train tracks in town leading to the highway, and so forth.
So, to my city I say, I care. And I will continue to care.
For you, for our citizens, for my much-loved former pupils who will grow up to be responsible adults in Cape Town, and for the betterment of this place called home.