Are we ready to be alone again?

This week we only have Thobo, our last born, at home. Sesi, our middled child and only daughter, is in South Africa for a week, with fellow standard fives, from her school. Our first born, Wawo, is at boarding school.

And I am thinking, this is a shadow of the fast approaching future…almost. That days are coming when this house will be devoid of familiar sounds and sights, lacking in the random uncensored questions; starved of hyper-activities and oft skinned knees and elbows. It will soon be poor of ‘telling ons’ and careless screeching cries. It will be empty, trully empty.

We will, soon, it seems, return to the beginning; to two adults looking at each, wondering, then what?

Are we ready mogatsaka?

Am I ready to free these three children? To let them into this hungry world that never says I have enough people, don’t send yours our side.

I think nothing bring the truth home, that parents are really just custodians and conduits, better than when kids leave home.

These children had to be born and be natured and we were only trusted to do that for the universe. For human kind. Somebody had to do it. And we have only been assigned and as with all assignments, when the work is done, it is passed on. We would thus do well to learn early, to not hold on too tight when our assignments ascend to the next stage.

Think about it. Whatever we spend our days doing, if it’s anything worth some breath, it is never solely for the benefit of our families. You are a child set free to the world you were made to serve.

We should also learn to deliver the parcels. Hard but inevitable.

Some would leave, not only our homes but our family name, adopting foreign cultures and namings. Other arrows will fly high and far, landing in places we never imagined possible.

The question I had on Monday morning, as I helped Sesi settle in the car, waiting for her papa to drop her off at school; For who are we born? Why do we have chidren?

It’s time, I realise, I embraced the bigger picture and accept that there is a much bigger reason, broader than my limited reason for having them. Sesi’s leaving highlighted my limitations in trying to explain the broadness of why this body carried them.

While the idea that my children belong to a much broader world, is kind of sad, it is also in a way, a motivation to do my best, to be deliberate in raising decent citizens – aware that they won’t be under my care and direction forever. It is an encouragement to ensure that when they finally leave my cocoon, I can confidently surrender them, pat them on the back and say, “Papa and I did our best, fly my children, fly”.

Sesi’s leaving this week, and his brother’s absence since January, put under a spotlight, on how I think about and do my parenting. It convinced me that I should broaden my methods (if there be any) – and raise children of the universe. Her leaving brought a new perspective, that my three children will inhabit in many ways, a world different from mine.

Children leave. They leave childhood, they leave home. They grow wings and wean from childhood attachments. They go away.

My daughter left Monday morning. My little girl left with others her age. The longest distance and time without her parents.

And she was anxious about a lot of things, in the run up to her going; “mama what if I need a bathroom in the middle of nowhere”
“What if I sleepwalk into the bush”
“What if…?”

What will keep us sane when these three have gone to boarding schools and universities. Will we not crowd out each other. Where will we take the attention that used to go to the three. Are we ready to be alone again mogatsaka?

“Like arrows in a hand of a mighty worrier, so are children of one’s youth….”

Batho ba ta-a-reng death trap

‘batho ba taa reng’ (what will people say) can kill you. It can cripple you, forcing you to take in more than you were made to. It can fast forward your journey to the ‘grave’.

‘batho ba taa reng’ allows every Nchadi and Nchi to dance on your head.

I am on the side of TD Jakes ‘you might be born in a crowded room, but truth is, even in a crowded room, you face birth alone. And while you’ll probably die surrounded by family and friends, but, your death, is a solo experience.

Naked you came, naked you shall return.

Face the truth.

‘batho’ don’t care what you had for dinner, or whether or not your children have clothes on their back.

‘Batho’ don’t know that the reason your property is being auctioned off is because you spent all your money on your terminally ill mother. They don’t know that you’ve spent all your life trying to rise above the water, sacrificing sleep and luxuries, but somehow, often, just when you think you have it all in control, a calamity hits and knocks you back to the beginning or worse.

‘Batho’ don’t know your private story, thus crowding your head with the deadly ‘batho ba taa reng’ thinking, is to kill yourself. Is to fall into a trap.

The ‘batho’ who keep you awake at night, probably sleep peacefully at night, if they exist. The ‘batho’ in ‘batho ba taa reng’ are probably fictitious, existing only in your head. The thought, possibly, only exists to confine you to a corner, cursing the day you were born. The ‘batho’ thinking wants to convince you that the world owes you.

‘Batho ba taa reng’ and its cousins, like ‘batho ba re’ (people are saying…), were not created to help you fly, I think. They were for intimidating you, for trampling upon whatever flicker of hope and boldness trying to rise in you. They are happy when you succumb to timidity; when you drag your feet through life.

For once see ‘batho ba taa reng’ as a net, a trap that is too afraid of what would become of you, were you to break free. Or look at it, as a yet to be born wild animal, hiding behind a thicket and using strings to pull and push you; directing your every step.

Maybe see ‘batho’ in ‘batho ba re’ and ‘batho ba taa reng’, as that little thokoloshi, from never-land, the hairy tiny animal, we all used to hear about, but never met. ‘Batho bata a reng’ is probably a Setswana name for ‘thokolosi’, who knows. An imaginary animal like dimo.

‘Take up YOUR mat’ Jesus would probably say, ‘and walk’

On the flip side, your obsessions with ‘batho ba taa reng’, may be that you take yourself too seriously. Thinking the world is preoccupied with details of your life.

‘wake up child’ the world is too busy for such random obsessions.

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?

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