From my future

I am sitting at the balcony. It’s a beach house. The only sound is a faint laugh  from the couple sitting, with their feet in what I think is cold water. They have  been there since I got here in the wee hours.

It’s a chilly morning.

My kids are at graduate school and my husband has gone for a walk with a  group of men from the neighbourhood. They do this every fortnight. It’s a “men connect” , my husband would say when I beg him to stay in for a chat.

“I need this, Oesi, I need some manpowerment”‘. And  he would give me that  ‘whatever’ look.

My husband is adamant that since I began writing this book, I had become too overprotective of words, even tensing up at their ‘careless’ use, or attempts at new creations.

I argue my case.

I am a student. I am learning to write through writing. And the best support, besides coffee, is the use of a proper language, using tried and tested words. We don’t seem to agree on this one.  We need to relax and enjoy life, he says. Work life made our lives too rigid, he argues. I agree, but not completely.

Yeah, here we are, waking  up to two of us and going to bed the same. We cannot always fight. So today I let it pass, “manpowerment”. I love you, please come back for a chat.
It’s a lonely life. The house is too silent, sometimes so disturbingly quiet I cannot even concentrate. We are back to when we first started.  No child, all grown up and gone. What remains are the walls and us. We try to make the best of it though. But some days are hard. There are moments I want my babies back in the house. I miss their unkept bedrooms and the upside down kitchen.

I miss telling them to clean up after themselves. I want to check their homework books and this time I promise I won’t give a disapproving look when they struggle with a simple sum. I miss you babies. I miss your frantic calls from the school office,

“Mama we have been waiting for a long time, nobody came to fetch us”.
I miss that you would trust me with your lives. That even after some discipline, you would still come back and call me “mama”. I miss your flocking into our bedroom in the mornings. I miss the insistent requests “mama may I please shower in your bathroom, please please mama.” When did you grow up?

Tractor ride to Masimo (The farm)

The distance from Pilikwe to ‘masimo ko Dikhung’, is about 10km. And on most Saturday mornings, during the ploughing season, we would be in the trailer, heading for the lands. Rre Makhura behind the wheel.

But on one fateful day we met shyness and our lives were changed forever. I don’t know when and how, but I remember, vividly, that following this encounter, we could not drive through the village, sitting upright in the trailer.

Our home is at the mouth of the village, from the side of Palapye (or from ‘7 miles’ turn off, as is popularly called in Pilikwe), and the exit to masimo is at the other end of the village, on the old Radisele road. Thus we had to drive through the village to go to Dikhung. And Before the onset of embarrassments and shynesses, travels in the tractor was normal, probably even fun.

But shynesses hit us.

As soon as we got out of our yard, we would lie down, flat on our bellies and only once in a while peep out to check how far through the village we were. I remember my mother saying “waitse le rata dilo mo go maswe. Le raa le thabiwa ke dithong tsa somang”?

Years later, in retrospect, I still can’t answer the question “le raa le thabiwa ke dithong tsa somang”? Because I didn’t have a boyfriend. Girls with boyfriends always seemed shy when compared to the rest of us. I never knew why. But when the boys or so called boyfriend appeared, these girls would start writing illegible things on the sand, with their toes. Somehow they couldn’t lift their heads and just talk to the boyfriends, eye to eye. Maybe when we were not there.

But here I was, boyfriend – less, in fact afraid of boys, but behaving like girls with boyfriends. Only that I was hiding in a trailer, my mother sitting only a few metres away, holding tightly to the body of the trailer.

Yah that’s probably another thing that embarrassed us. The shaking. It doesn’t matter the tactics you employ, the tractor shakes its occupants.

It’s possible that we were too embarrassed to be seen shaking through the village with pedestrians staring and wondering what was wrong with us. And so we opted to shake, away from the prying eyes.

I used to marvel at how my mother seemed not to mind sitting up alone, while we hid.

Our voice also vibrated from all the shaking. So we had to figure out balancing our bodies and steadying our voices, often shouting because there was competition from the tractor.

A shadow of its former glory,this trailer now just sits here, oblivious to the love hate relationship we had with it. It will probably never move and shake anybody, but for those it shook, there are stories to tell.

Stories about how funny it probably looked to have so few people drive in such a big trailer. It swallowed us up and looked more important than us. We have even more embarrassing stories like when Mr. Makhura would just stop without notice, to give some villagers a lift. Imagine the sheepish look when we would immediately sit up and hope none of them noticed.

Makhura had limited choices. The tractor was far from the trailer, he was therefore not privy to the activities behind. He probably would have warned us,
“Ke emela bangwe ke bale….” , or maybe he did, and his voice died in the distance.

But here we are – survivors from the trailer ride, to tell the story.