I’m a church girl. I grew up in Lontone before joining my current ‘fire’ church. I am a mother, wife, I’m your friend, a woman, a motswana, singer, gardener. I also spent a bit of time at school. These and multiple other identities often converge to influence my general perspective of the world.
It’s not often possible to know which identity influenced which view because as you might be aware, I cannot be separated or divided among the zillions of identities for different discussions or whatever.
The church girl is stuck with the being a wife and a Motswana woman within a strict partriachal tradition, harbouring the idea of a democratic state.
At times though, some of the identities try to dominate others, just as it happens in our society where certain groups assert their identity through a hegemonic relations with others.
Gladly, dealing with the self is not as political as with the outside public. The politics here can be easily contained.
■What I’m I on about? Nothing.
Before I had a house in the middle of a naked and dusty patch of land, I didn’t think in plants and bushes. I had lived, previously, in the second floor of a three story complex. Each door and window opened to brown concrete walls; rough and unflinching structures of multi-residential, multiple floor complexes. These were my definition of ‘view from my room’.
The nakedness of the land, I landed on, its poverty stricken and unkept look, triggered a hunger in me. I was hungry for life, for freedom from suffocating sights of brown concrete walls.
I remember spending days, out in the rain, an umbrella in one hand, a garden fork in another, tiling the land, planting and uprooting.
I am on the journey to Home.
Home is where all the windows open to a live plant, to something with a semblance of a garden. To some live green and colour.
And until that happens, Home is a journey, a vision.
Gardening was to remain a partner I seek for inspiration; a reminder to be grateful for a piece of land.
Im tilling the land to Home…
And until each window opens into a garden; until we are hidden behind bushes and can pull down and trash our curtains, we can only imagine home. We can only see its shadows.
Tilling the land reminds me that one day, I’ll be Home.
At Home our curtains are bushes.
You, dear friends, who do not have the honour to shed blood every month, don’t you sometimes wonder why you hardly see us with sanitary pads?
Let’s start here. One of the signs that a young woman has hit puberty, besides breasts and maybe pimples, is the onset of menstruation. And this becomes a monthly occurrence until the dawn of yet another stage in the life cycle, menopause.
Menstruation, in simple terms, is when a woman”s body drops an unfertilised egg(yes we have eggs). The egg breaks and blood gushes out of our bodies. This egg is unsolicited, comes voluntarily, but it cannot be rebuked back into the body. It often only stops dropping when it has been fertilised, when we are pregnant.
So I’m talking about a natural process here. As natural as urinating and the other one.
Don’t you men, especially, sometimes catch yourself thinking “Do my colleagues at work, fellow church members or ladies eveywhere, outside home, have a different body make up from those in my house? What do they use to stay clean, that we never get to see?”
We use the same thigs as those you see at home, dear men and brothers. It’s only that we hide our sanitary pads. We have to appear like what you know happens to the women close to you, doesn’t happen to us you meet at work and other places.
Menstruation has been tucked away into the private and secret spaces. It is a home matter – and outside home, it is a ‘keep-it-concealed -and-invisible’ and hide all its associations from the public eye.
Ask around, for me, if anybody has ever met a lady colleague, carrying a sanitary pad like they would a bottle of water?
Truth is we hide our pads under the armpit, pockets, purses. We carry an entire handbag to the bathroom, just so we can hide, from you, a pad. A pad we use to stay decent, to protect ourselves and our clothes. We have to hide it from you.
I don’t know why, but each time we need to change into a clean pad. Yes we have to change pads throughout the day. They fill up like ‘pampers’. Do you baby’s disposable nappies? You know they get soaked in urine and have to be changed every now and then?
A sanitary pad works the same way.
And just like a disposable nappy, it fills up and will leak and stain clothes, if it is not replaced quick enough.
But do you know what an effort it is to just decide on how to hide it, with each toilet visit. Armpit? What if it drops? You then have to walk in attention mode and remember to not lift that particular arm.
Or should it be a pocket, a handbag? Then you rebuke yourself “Eish the handbag is too big and too obvious”.
So much negotiations you could probably have invested on something more sophisticated. But you are here, stuck in your little space plottimg the best possible, less suspicious, mode of transporting a sanitary pad.
And the capitalist has now created square shaped purses for pads. But pads come sealed, individually, inside a bag, already. Do we really need another bag?
#Can we set the pad free please…
I am sitting here waiting for that little animal I often hear helps with stories. I think I heard it calling out to me earlier…
I am afraid that to sleep, without first letting out the story currently nagging at me, would be the biggest loss of the day. I am scared that should I doze off, it would sneak out and leave me here, sleeping. But then, if it so wants to come out, why play hard to come? Wasting my emotions and increasing my anxieties. Why does it want me to beg it to show up? I had not enticed it, you know. It voluntarily impressed on me its intentions to come out and even asked that I wait to tell it. But I have been sitting here, for hours, and have even written one and a half stories. No, one story and what looks like a poem; both of which feel forced and unauthentic. They do not possess the character of stories ready to be born.
I will let them be.
They ran away from my feelings while I was in their middle and decided to get emotionally detached, dumping me like you would an unwanted co-traveler. They behaved like they were forced to wake up from a beautiful sleep in the wee hours of a winter day. These two stories grumbled just when I thought we were warming up to each other.
They rubbed it on me that ours, was a forced partnership, but I walked on, silently, slowing down every so often to allow them to catch up. I had hoped we would reach the destination together or that may be their mood would lighten up along the way, but no, it was a tiring drag. I had to quit and run on alone. Leaving them in the middle of that lonely country road.
I hope the little animal comes along…i am sleepy.
Society is a doting parent – but she often seems overwhelmed by contradictory feelings towards a child she raises.
It would seem she, consciously or not, has to oscillate between skepticism and reverence – and this is arguably, consistent from when the child is born, though their marriage, to their death. The child she, often, would have longed for, craved for and even hoped for, then becomes the child who makes the parent and child co-exist, somewhat comfortable and questionable.
The comfort, though is, this ambivalent relations, is not the preserve for any particular group or persons. It thus helps to not take the potentially demeaning utterances or reluctant acceptances, as specific to you. You just happen to be the actor at that moment.
The script is the same.
Thus celebrate with the doting parent, sing the songs you hear her sing and look to the future gleefully. Remembering often that you have a responsibility to define yourself and live accordingly; that to spend life complaining about the speculations, conversations and misconceptions uttered against you, is to absolve responsibility. If there isn’t much to give to the society, at least celebrate that they birthed you and raised you…
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 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….”