Clothes are tablecloths

We are not the refined, neatly cut dresses and pants that adorn our bodies. We therefore cannot be reduced to labels on the collar of our shirts.

The thread count on the cotton we wear, dwarfs in comparison to who we are.

We exist inside the evening little black dresses and beautifully crafted traditional regalia. They are to conceal and hide us.

To collate us with dresses is to unsee us. Is to miss us.

We are under the tuxedos and Italian cut-to-fit suits. We are behind, differently branded Sun glasses, they are not us.

We represent strength; blood and sweat.

Inside the clean cut clothes, are broken, over stretched, strong and feeble bodies. There are bodies with fine and bold lines, aftermath from years of war with weight.

Marks of different story lines.

Under the floral and pinstripe suits are bodies with an opposing story. Bodies negating the public image. We cover bodies marked with scares of all sizes.

Scars telling our stories.

Clothes cover us, they hide us – they enables us to blend in, to assimilate. To look like everybody. They hide unique stories marked on our skins.

They disguise our protruding tummies, concealing parts that have lost elasticity, they hide and censor us, they edit us.

But by all means, cover up. Hide under there. Allow us to talk about the piece of cloth that hides you and not you. We will remember, one day, that whatever texture and label, clothes are like table clothes. It is the table that matters…

Pilikwe people are deep

I was born Oesi Morehi Sebusang in Pilikwe. In fact ntate says it should be Oesimorehi. That is what he called me. But the people who were sent to register me for standard one agreed with the teachers that Oesimorehi was too long – and would be tough for a standard one to write. Aa these guys underestimated me.

So they chopped my name and kept quiet, no confessions to ntate on their return. The truth was only revealed at the end of the term when ntate opened my school report. Uhu!

But why did you call me Oesimorehi? I would ask years later.
“You see, you only have one brother. Your mother and I had one girl after another. So then I thought, the power behind giving us children must be one – and that power was giving us the same sex. Oesi means ‘one’ and Morehi is ‘provider’. Thus we only have one provider”.
That’s how deep ntate is.

No. I’m not an only child. My name is deeper than all the other Oesis you know – and I’m not an only girl. It is my brother, Sebusang Enele Sebusang who is one – and the name has nothing to do with his being the sole brother among 6 girls. It’s much deeper than that.
■ Pilikwe people are deep😂

This body, our story…

On this day, I remember mothers.

Our bodies are permanent reminders that we are co-creators with God. What an honour.

throw back to our times of carrying a life in our bodies, a growing life that stretched and tore apart muscles and skins. Leaving in its wake, for some, broken skins and ripped apart muscles.

Throw back with me, mothers, to the fragile emotions, and sweet tenderness that grew in our hearts, as the life we carried tested the elasticity of our structures. It needed to be comfortable you know, to come out intact.

I throw back to the intensity of labour pains, to the actual delivery, at times after hours of agonising pain.

I throw back to the tears of relieve and of joy as we held the life that would forever alter our outlook. The life that makes us see every child. That makes us much more aware and even concerned about what goes on around us.

Let’s throw back and agree that we aren’t able to look away from a suffering child.

In pain we bore you children, we love you with our lives. Anything that touches you touches the apple of our eyes.

I salute you mothers. Our bodies tell stories of resilient and of overwhelming peace.

oesi and thobo

Upside-down dressing

Upside down dressing is when the dark colour goes to the top and the light goes to the bottom, so says Oesi.

I grew up conscious of the generous part of this structure and thus learnt early to conceal it under dark colours. While once in a while the dark goes to the top, the light hardly gets lost, she knows her domicile well, top half.

This probably explains why this skirt is seeing the outside world for the first time, since December 2015 when it was salvaged, for a spoon of salt, from some factory shop in Capetown. It has had a sad life, from the factory, to the bottom of some forgotten bag, in some dark corners.

It thus follows that the decision to take this #upsidedown route, this morning, was a cabinet decision, a consensus. Not a random resolution, reached in a haste, in some ungodly hours. NO. It was a well thought out plan, its implication analyzed and risks embraced.
#upside down dress

From a distant lonely bark…peace

Peace is waking up at 2am to a silent house, with no sound from the childrens’ rooms.

We are well.
That’s peace.

Peace is silence. It is when words are sinful, an adulteration.

Peace is sleeping dogs in your immediate environment. When the only sound is a lonely distant bark. An assurance, intruders are kept at bay.

Peace is the conviction that there are invisible multitudes smiling at you.

It is when sleep divorces you at 2 in the morning and you’re happy he left. Happy his leaving opened your ears to the testimony from silent dogs.

Peace is faces of family, fast asleep. Telling you in their unawareness that peace is not in things. It is here.

Peace is knowing you are NOT an insomniac. It is an unwaivering conviction, that your eyes will soon close.

Peace is dreams.
Peace is warm blankets.

Peace is the on-beat breathing patterns close by.

The night they stole my innocence

I was staying alone. A young single woman, in her mid twenties.

My two bedroomed flat occupied the second floor of the BHC multi residential houses in Phase 2, opposite the CBD. It comprised a small kitchen, a living room and 2 balconies, one outside the kitchen, the other, by my bedroom.

I had deliberately chosen to stay here for its relative safety. My reason being, reaching the second floor would be a lot of effort for would be offenders.

I was wrong.

One night I was sitting on my bed, between 12 and 1 in the wee hours, folding and packing my laundry. I still remember my scrisp clean off-white bed sheet covering the mattresses. The bed cover and all other bed decorations had been put aside, blankets opened, ready for my exhausted body.

Packing done, I dashed to the kitchen for a last cup of water. But then decided against going straight to bed afterwards but instead watched TV for a while, in the lounge, while also quenching the midnight thirst

About 15 minutes later I was at my bedroom door.

And on my crisp clean off white sheet, was a huge shoe print. Close to it was my open wallet and business cards strewn all over the bed.

I ran for the door and knocked on the adjuscent house.

‘Matsieng’ had taken my cell phone and last P20.

My neighbours escorted me as I packed an overnight bag and were also kind enough to let me use their phone to call my sister and the cab.

I lived with her family for a week, to recover and to also allow time for burglars’ bars installation on balconies, doors and every possible high risk spot.

I returned to a prison. But discovered I could not live alone anymore.

I had been violated.

Does one ever return to normalcy?

And then there is us…

The disorganised architects.

We travel the messy and unkept routes to our raw materials. Our desks are covered with things, piles of things; computer desktops are a jumbled up mess.

We are people with beautiful and finished ideas in our head, complete with the wrappings and ribbons. But the journey to holding these perfect products, is not as organised.

We pick what to wear, the morning of the work day. We would be lucky to decide while in the shower. Because on most days we decide inside the closet. And some days the hastily picked dress contradicts the mood. We would then have to replace and maybe only after a few trials settle for something.

You’d probably find, in our wake, a trail of clothes we tried and discarded.

We are adrenaline junkies. We are those you’ll see in traffic, combing their hair, finishing off their makeup. The kind who complete the make up in the office.

This is us, who wish for spotlessly clean cars, but somehow, cars rebel, going against our desire.

We are those you dismiss and harshly judge, not for our looks, but of a disposable object carrying us.

We think and dream then walk the cluttered maze to our creativities. Sometimes we use our feet to move stuff off the way, in pursuit of the perfect.

We are not the sleek and smooth with shiny tables and organised chairs.

We are not as refined on the edges.

We are the ones who stay awake the night before, for a perfect work tomorrow.

The kind who spend the day in pyjamas.

But somehow we have survived the chaos. We have lived through perfect jobs, done on the nick of time. We managed to be in the same, snail paced traffic, with the most organised. With those who sort their work clothes, according to days, months in advance. And often you can’t tell the difference.

We have managed to raise kids. Smart and responsibilities citizens.

We are the kind that decide on what to cook when we already in the kitchen, maybe even when already by the stove.

We would concentrate for a few hours, sweat it out, then take a break and a strall. We need it.

We need to leave the office to either take a walk or do a few hellos before coming back to settle.

We fill our suitcases with clothes and shoes for a day’s trip.

We come in all shapes and sizes, in all the different shades of brown. We have been to school and have produced beautiful academic work. We are farmers producing food for our people. We are mothers and fathers; pastors and singers. We are blue collar and crisp white jobers; employers and employees.

We are still on and continue to muddle through life.

We are abstract; complete yet looking like a draft.

We are the one you’ll see running to the bathrooms, because we waited a little too long. But we are here with those who schedule bathroom visits.
Life is on. Yes looks deceive.

I met death, once upon a time

Thobo was born on the 16th September 2010 at Bokamoso Hospital. The cesarean section was some by Dr. Eishler, the German Gaenacologists, who later, together with his doctor wife, skipped the country under the cover of the night. They remain the best doctors I’ve ever met. All rounded best.

The story started when the anesthetic procedure knocked me out. We had agreed to a bottom half of the body ‘paralysis’. I wanted to participate in the birthing process. I had done that with the previous two.

That was not to be. This time I was out. Dead. Unaware of life.

When I came to, I had moved from the theatre to the hospital room. Thobo was in ICU, under strict observation. I learnt later that he had not cried immediately after birth – and all the usual tactics doctors often engage failed to produce a cry.

They were worried for his health, especially his lungs.

I think I was discharged two days later, pushed in a wheelchair. I had a throbbing headache that wouldn’t allow me to stand on my own. And when we got home I had to be supported from the car to the house.

My health deteriorated so fast the next morning I couldn’t see clearly. The world was blurry.

One of my sisters is a medical doctor – and we normally check things with her before seeking medical attention. She was in the US. They called her. She explained what could be the problem.

To ‘paralyse’ me the aesthetician had injected me on the spine, they call it epidural.

So my sister explained, from the US, that the small opening from the injection is supposed to close immediately after. But it would seem, in my case, it had not and as such I was losing pressure needed to keep me intact.

The thumping headache and the near blindness were a result of this pressure loss.

I was losing Cerebral Spinal Fluid and if not attended to, this structure called Oesi would collapse.

So when we rushed back to Bokamoso after the call, we had all the medical jargon and explanations; to the shock of the medical team.

I was quickly wheel-chaired in and drips inserted on every visible vein😛.

The headache had gone violent.

I was not sure whether I was crying or it was my head’s spontaneous response to this brutality. But tears poured uninhibited.

I was to spend the next 4 days in Bokamoso. The headache, the anesthetic doctor explained, needed to be treated with caffeine containing medication. But the ministry of health had not allowed that kind of medication into the country yet.

My near addiction to caffeine started here, I think.

In the four days I was at Bokamoso, the anesthetic doctor instructed that I get a glass of coke with each meal – and he was always by my bedside, ‘for control’, I guess.

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