A selection of photos showing the real-life characters central to the Umbilicus plot. And a few items from the scrapbook that Paula Gruben’s birth mom made for her, to explain her side of the story.
Below: Paula’s birth parents at the Palm Grove (nightclub) in Margate, 1970 – four years before Paula was born. Image supplied.
Above: Paula was born on 18th August 1974 at Addington Hospital in Durban. She was separated from her biological mother straight after birth, and spent the first three weeks of her life in the care of nurses before being allowed to go home with her ‘forever family’. Here she is in the arms of her 29-year-old adoptive mother, September 1974. Image supplied.
Below: Left to right – Paula’s adoptive mom, aged 21 in 1966; Paula’s birth mom, aged 21 and unknowingly pregnant with Paula in 1974; Paula on her 21st birthday in 1995. Paula’s birth mom was 21 when she had Paula, and Paula was 21 when she found her birth mom. Each one of these newly-minted 21-year-old South Africans was about to embark on a life-changing trip to London, albeit for three different reasons, and during three different eras – mid-60s, mid-70s, and mid-90s. Images supplied.
Above: Paula’s 24-year-old biological father playing in the band ADDAM at La Boheme (nightclub) in Bulawayo, Rhodesia, July 1973 – the year before Paula was born. Image supplied.
Below: Paula in the arms of her 30-year-old adoptive father, September 1974. Image supplied.
Above: Paula, aged 19, with her boyfriend, 30th May 1994. Photo by Lisa Luiz.
Below: Paula’s boyfriend, aged 18, outside Berea Inn (nightclub), later that same evening. Photo by Lisa Luiz.
Above: Play @ Berea Inn was the weekly haunt of Durban goths during the early-to-mid 90s. Flyer by DJ Helgé.
Below: Alternative club DJ Helgé Janssen had arguably one of the best record collections this side of the Equator. Here he is shown in character as the ‘Apartheid Demon’, for a 1996 performance piece. Photo by Rhett Podersoo.
Below: Paula’s flatmate at The Station (nightclub), circa 1994/5. Image supplied.
Below: The letter Paula’s birth mom wrote to her own mother (Paula’s biological maternal grandmother) from the abortion clinic she had been sent to in London, when it was still an illegal procedure in apartheid-era South Africa.
Below: The letter Paula’s birth mom wrote to Paula on her 18th birthday and left on file, with her contact details, at the adoption agency.
Below: The night Paula’s birth mom and her second husband visited the restaurant where Paula was waitressing at the time. Unbeknownst to the almost-21-year-old Paula, the woman she was serving was her biological mother.