And then there is us; the disorganised architects

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 creatives. 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 jobbers; 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.

What growth means to me

Lets allow growth to be different things to different beings. To me, growth is allowing your heart to be attracted to what has a semblance of you; to the things that accentuate you. It is the ability to find yourself in this crowded world.

Growth is the boldness to live within the ‘found self’ in a society that prefers an assimilated being; who thinks, behaves, walks and dresses like the next person. It is being yourself in a culture that often ridicules God’s given distinctiveness; that has normalized conformity; shunning uniqueness.

Growth is being happy, it is sharing happiness.

It is the strength to block the hammer that longs for and delights in knocking you into line.

Growth is respecting your community, celebrating it. It is the ability to navigate, with reverence, the contours and crevices that formed your people, those things that broke and re-constructed them; it is to embrace how your community imagines itself; to locate yourself in this maze of thought – but live.

Growth is living.

It is the rejection of self-hate. It can be violent. It may even mean an aggressive reclaiming of the self; a passionate salvaging of the remnants of your being, lost in years of self-doubt and cynicism.

Growth THEN, is a pilgrimage. It is being and becoming, it is I am home and yet going home.

Growth is preferring the toned over the slim body
It is losing the sweetness of sugar for the authenticity of honey
Growth is ditching trends,
It is when your questions change.
It is the wisdom to choose your battles
It is happy children playing in an un-kept house
It is a happy husband
It is peace

I was the “cry baby”

I cried through my formative years, past university to the work place.

When they raised their voices at me, I cried – and I cried when I didn’t like my new clothes. I remember crying because my new shoes were too tight, but didn’t want them exchanged. I cried when dipotsane wouldn’t listen to my pleading for them to stop, so I could take them to the shelter. And when dipotsane and dikonyana chased after me, I would cry. I cried when after milking the goats, one of them, often ‘mmapema’ would spill all my hard labour because I then had to take the ‘longest’ walk from the kraal to segotwana.

The tea pot would probably be boiling by then, how would I explain?

I cried when I thought I had been sent on too many chores and when the dress I had planned, the whole week, to wear to church, was dirty. I also cried when things decided to hide when I was looking for them.

How I cried was often dependent on the kind of reaction I anticipated. If I expected a strong scolding from my parents, I would groan, painful silent crying that made my throat hurt; often behind the house, alone. Otherwise I would scream.

I was a child who cried.

I cried so much I got used to hearing “ga kere o bata go toga o itsheka dikeledi go ne ha. A ko o emelele”, in instances when I delayed to take up a chore.

Just recently, my elder sister, Oathokwa, was telling me;

“Koore one o lela gotwe oa kamiwa. Gape ha go twe oa
beolwa, oa lela. Ntate o ta-a-bo a omana nako ya kereke
e chaile o gana go kamiwa”.

“Ke sale ke re le beole motho yo”, ntate shouting
at everybody

“Ha gongwe ha o sena go logiwa o taabo o lela ore go
bothoko, hei mma’’, my sister driving it home.

I cried at the sight of a whip. In fact, my body would just stop functioning. Very similar to how I still feel when I see an elephant, logic just flies through the window.

I once cried, at my previous job, in the dignity of a bathroom. A male colleagues, had said to me “ke taa go clapa” (may his soul rest in peace). It was not the thought of the pain from the clap that brought up the tears, but the insult. I felt violated, stripped of my dignity. I was young then, fresh graduate, and first job. I have since taught people how to talk to me. Now I deliberately go out of my to correct offenders;
“Ga ke buisiwe jalo. Ka gore ga nkake ka go buisa. O bata go ikopa maitshwarelo?”
It has been a long time though, since I met those types of offenders.

Too much crying is part of my story.

I matured.

Now I laugh and talk loud. I sing and I am a good public speaker, possibly prepared through years of crying.

I have a loving Father

I told lies. I broke tea cups and dinner plates and denied it. I played beyond the stipulated time and would arrive home late from school, then cook up a story of my delay.

I was a normal child.

I had my moments of sugar eating and condensed milk sucking. But I was never lost to being Rra Ewetse’s child. Often considering myself his favourite child. Why not? Probably my siblings also did. In fact I still believe I am his favourite.

The point is, although I was probably a naughty child, I never for once thought I didn’t deserve my father’s love. I never imagined him thinking differently of me because of my lying and breaking tea cups. Even when he would have scolded me hard. I never had reason to think he loved me any less.

I have a father, a doting father who had a firm hand on us. A hand that ensured we all turned out right.

My song of the week “He knows my name” got me thinking. If I have such confidence in my natural father; If I never lived with the guilt and condemnation from my faults and naughtiness, where did I learn to feel guilty in relation to God? If I had confidence that Rra Ewetse forgave and moved on, never to remind me again of my bad past, where did I learn to dwell on my sins, leading to guilt and self condemnation?

My natural father’s readily forgiving nature and abundant love, challenged my relationship with a God in heaven, this week. The God who formed my father.

And I asked God to forgive me for this error. The error of unconsciously trusting that the natural can be more capable than Him, a supernatural being. Maybe not in that overt kind of way. But this often feeling of guilt, I was, in a way saying to myself, I was not worthy because of what I would done or not done.

I refuse that. I will always refuse it. I dealt with guilt and condemnation this week.

Lessons from Rra Ewetse, fallible as all of us, pointed me to a God who forgives unconditionally. The God who forgets my faults, the God who deals with me on a clean plate each day.

The liberation came in the form of my natural father.

I confessed to never again carry the guilt and never again condemn myself. Not that I have arrived home, but because for those who have believed in God, there should be no condemnation. It’s a done deal.

I’m free from guilt and shame. I have fallen many times, and many times I have risen. Still I refuse guilt and condemnation. I choose to rise as many times as I fall. I choose peace over a heavy heart.

I’m loved beyond words. I therefore choose to be found immersed in this sea of love. Surrounded by, filled with and drunk in this love.

Come with me.

I have a running stomach

I am presenting to a packed hall of about 100 people at Avani Hotel

I am not anxious

Today’s frequent visits to the bathroom reminded me of how, for years now, I have to deal with a running stomach each time I am to lead the church in worship. I have been singing in our church praise team since I was a University student. Yes, that long. For the early years, I was mostly a backing vocalist. As time passed,  I joined those who lead the church. That meant stepping out, from among fellow singers and stepping forward to lead. And I have never found it easy.

I have prayed and fasted and done all that is humanly possible, trying to deal with the anxiety that triggers these Sunday morning bathroom visits. Many years later, I still negotiate, with this call of nature. The only comfort though is that the visits are not as frequent as today’s.  They are usually only about two to three and then I would face other levels of un-sureness.

I find standing in front of the church the most challenging engagement I ever have to do. I often spend time evaluating who I am and what I exist for. I challenge and question my role in this big institution, the church. I evaluate my preparedness and then rebuke myself for thinking that I could ever be ready.

It is a lot of pressure for a mortal if you ask me. But it happens. I stand there and lead, because after all the evaluations and the prayers, after all the solo and corporate practices; and after all the questions about how the worship would turn out, I have to hold that microphone and lead a packed church hall. I am never sure which state of mind to engage. I often feel like a pendulum, swinging between floating emotions, never really settling.

It is when the church is over that I return to myself and breathe again – and be grateful that the call didn’t happen in the middle of a song. They never do. In fact the calls often end before I leave for church (putting my Sunday delay in context here)
I am a bit weak now from today’s many visits to the Bakgatla house. Pray for me, pray for the many Sundays ahead. Maybe your prayers could bring to an end, Sunday morning visits, I have, for now, embraced as a part of me.

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.