Slice of life: Making tea with love

“Palesa! Make me tea.” The water in the kettle begins to boil as Palesa prepares to make Mkhulu his favourite tea. She slowly pours milk into his special white-and-blue Santa Claus cup, making sure that she half-fills it. The measurement must be exact.

The cup goes into the microwave and as the milk rises and begins to bubble, the kettle sings. The next step can begin. Palesa places the Trinco tea bag into the cup, scoops and levels two teaspoons of brown sugar and, for the grand finale, pours water into the cup before stirring. She heads to the room, making sure not to spill a single drop.

“You drink too much tea, Mkhulu,” Palesa says as she tucks in the bed covers around him.

“Hai, tea can never make you sick,” he replies with a grin as he struggles to sit up on his own.

She helps him up from the bed that he’s been confined to for the past four years following several operations and kidney failure. The pain has been getting worse and Mkhulu now has a gaping wound on his back that needs to be dressed.

He thinks that Palesa can’t hear him when he whispers a plea to God: “Please think about me. I cannot do this any more,” but she does hear him and it hurts.

Palesa hands Mkhulu his frothy cup of tea, made just the way he likes it. She watches the wrinkles running along his hands as he lifts the cup to his lips and nods. “You’re paying me back for all the years I made you tea, my child. Thank you.” 

— Palesa Sauhatsi (24) as told to Mashadi Kekana. Sauhatsi lost her grandfather, James Lele Sauhatsi, in May 2015 and misses making him tea.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories


Subscribers only

How smuggled gold destined for Dubai or Singapore has links...

Three Malagasy citizens were apprehended at OR Tambo International airport, but now the trail is found to connect to France and Mali

How lottery execs received dubious payments through a private company

The National Lottery Commission is being investigated by the SIU for alleged corruption and maladministration, including suspicious payments made to senior NLC employees between 2016 and 2017

More top stories


Joel Embiid gets the nod, and though Curry has performed well lately, there are doubts that the Warriors will prevail

Beyond the digital cold war: Technology and the future of...

Several African governments have published plans to establish smart cities, including Cairo, Johannesburg, Kigali and Nairobi. They require the most advanced technologies available

Funding a vaccine will tax our limits

VAT should not be hiked, but a once-off levy on mineral resources or a solidarity tax seems likely

‘SA can’t leave its shift to a low-carbon future to...

Innovation and creativity is crucial to guide financing, say experts

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…