“Daddy?” Stella asks. “How did everyone in the world come from Adam and Eve? How could everyone be born from them?”
   She has just turned seven, and has been asking where babies come from a lot. I don’t know if this is what she is getting at, but if it is, I evade it, as I have been doing for a few weeks.
   “Well,” I say, “not all stories actually happened. Some are made up to teach us lessons. So some people believe that Adam and Eve were the first people on earth, and some people believe that it’s a story that was made up to teach us a lesson.” I worry that her next question will be to ask what the lesson of Adam and Eve, but it isn’t.
   “What do you believe?” she asks.
   “I believe it’s a story that was made up to teach us a lesson.”
   “Me too,” Stella says.
   “Me too,” Lily says. Lily has been a quiet observer to the conversation until now.
   I have told them a bedtime story, I have given them hugs and kisses – as much as I was permitted by Lily and as many as were dictated by Stella. Now, after this short conversation, there is a pause, and I try to leave the room.
   “I think Madiba was the first person in the world,” Lily says.
   “Why? Because he’s very old?” I ask.
   “Yes,” Lily says.
   “That’s why he’s in hospital,” Stella says.
   There is another pause in the conversation, so I begin to walk toward the door. But Stella is having none of it.
   “Daddy, how do chicken pox spread?” she asks. I consider what her train of thought might have been: hospital… sickness… chicken pox. Or perhaps somehow, in her mind, she has connected the spread of Adam and Eve’s offspring with the spread of chicken pox.
   “One person catches it from another person. Then someone catches it from that person.”
   “Yes, but how did chicken pox start?” I ponder how or where or who or when the Adam of chicken pox might have been.
   “I don’t know. There are sicknesses in the world and they change and become other sicknesses.” I doubt she is satisfied with this answer. I know I wouldn’t be.
   “Have I had chicken pox?”
   “Have you had chicken pox?”
   “Who did you get it from?”
   “One of my sisters. We all had it at the same time when we were children.”
   “But where did chicken pox come from?”
   “I don’t know,” I start. Sometimes you feel that if you don’t have answers to certain questions, you are going to really disappoint your children. You kick yourself for having such poor general knowledge and for being so uninformed. ‘I don’t know’ is a perfectly acceptable answer. If you are talking to adults. But children want actual, real answers. They are not satisfied with ‘I don’t know’. “I don’t know about chicken pox. But sometimes sicknesses go from animals to people. Like mosquitoes.”
   “Ja. Some mosquitoes can give you malaria if they bite you. Not the ones here in Cape Town, but in other parts of the world. So you have to sleep under nets or take medicine there. Otherwise you can get malaria. And malaria is serious. You can die from it.”
   “Can you die from chicken pox?”
   “Does Madiba have chicken pox?” Lily asks, venturing out once again from her position as quiet observer.
   “No, he has a chest infection. I think.”
   “Is that why he’s in a hotel?”
   “He’s not in a hotel,” Stella sighs. “He’s in a hospital.”
   “What’s the difference?” Lily asks.
   “You stay in a hotel when you’re on holiday. You stay in hospital when you’re sick,” I say.
   “Or when you have a baby,” Stella says.
   “Or when you have a baby,” I say.
   There’s a pause. This time it lingers and becomes a silence. This time I’m a little sorry it has.

Picture (c) Universal Studios