Mpiletso Motumi. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu
Johannesburg - It has always been a strange feeling for me to sweep dust particles outside the kitchen door at night.

I also still get the heebie-jeebies every time I see a black cat. My desk mate, Karishma, pats my head whenever an ambulance drives past us on the road and I never open an umbrella in the house.

These are the superstitious beliefs - though weird when you think about it - we grew up with. They were never questioned, just understood, because everything the parents said was Bible truth.

Sweeping the floor after 6pm meant you would have to wait for morning before you could throw out the rubbish, otherwise bad luck would cover your days. The black cat thing I still don’t get, but somehow the fear remains real.

Another strange belief is the one about cutting nails at night. I don’t know the reason why this shouldn’t be done.

And I remember when we were younger we were told not to squint our eyes, or else one day when the wind blew, our eyes would stay like that forever.

My mom would always warn my sister and me against swallowing seeds because otherwise, depending on the fruit, we would have trees growing in our stomachs.

I once went into a depression after swallowing chewing gum because someone told me it would never leave my system and my intestines would stick together like glue forever.

We were told to never sweep towards a woman’s feet or eat from a pot because it meant we would never find husbands (I think I’ve had my fair share of foot sweeps to start believing this true).

Eating from a pot also meant that your wedding day would be “blessed” with rain.

When family functions occur, we drizzle some alcohol on the ground so the festivities are in good spirits, and to cleanse our sins we wash ourselves in sea water.

Bringing home a bottle of sea water also meant many blessings were on the way.

Some of these traditions continue, others are outgrown.

Some of the superstitions are demystified and others steadily get updated from generation to generation. But for the most part, I’m pretty sure I haven’t yet grown a tree in my stomach and my intestines seem to be working fine.

I dip my feet in the ocean when I go on holiday and send out a little prayer, and I will never open an umbrella in the house. Old habits die hard and I can’t wait to scare my future little ones with some of my own made-up stories.

The Star