A letter to my daughter, Sesi.

Sesi,

I hope you enjoyed the photo shoot at school today and not worried about your hair like you were, when you called last night. I love you.

On this day of the girl child, remember baby girl that the world is a better place because of you. Your tender heart and calm spirit, your soft and bold character, make us a better people. Your calmness reminds us to slow down.

Thank you nana.

Papa and I are obsessed with making our home peaceful, a place we long to come back to, after school and work. We desire to see you and your brothers yearning for the calmness of home. For its ability to allow you the freedom to be yourselves, an oasis to calm the noise and pressures of the world outside world.

We love you.

You were born here, Gaborone, Botswana. A country with a long history of peace. You were born in a country where your parents, grandparents and their parents before them, do not have living memories of war.

But I want you to always remember that, while we never knew war, or serious civil unrest, we, like all people everywhere, have differed many times, sometimes radically and strongly. Our views don’t always follow a linear and homogeneous pattern.  We differ, we argue, we allow ourselves the freedom to hold diverse views But never to the point of feeling the need to go to war over them. This has only enriched our relationship as a nation.

We inherited a culture that subscribes to unity, that while we may hold strong opposing views, it should not create animosity between us. Our forebears, passed to us a tradition, that embraces all contributions as worthy and permissible. Everybody is allowed to share their views so we can, in the end, choose the most agreeable.

This practise kept us away from wars and guns.

You live with people who don’t often agree with you, girlfriends you sometimes disagree with, it is normal. People disagree because they are different. We have different taste and likes. We were formed from different moulds, shaped through unique DNAs.

Never beat yourself too hard over a relationship gone sour. Some will rebound, others never. It’s life.

Also learn Sesi, that to differ with your friends shouldn’t mean the end of it. In life, friends, even family, disagree.

You inherited peace, guard it. You are an heir of great grand mothers and fathers, who protected this nation jealously. The baton is in your hand. You owe it to your mates to spread the peace. One is never too young to. Talk with your friends, help fighting friends reconcile, for example. Assist to ease tensions around you. Make this, a more peaceful world.

Seek peace all your days. Start where you are, with your heart. Continue embracing a peaceful and calm spirit. You can only give from what you have. Cultivate gratitude my baby. Be thankful even for the mundane, the air you breathe, for what God gave us freely, life.

Many girls in many countries did not live to your age. They died too early. Many who live, suffer unimaginable atrocities. Many are less fortunate and do not enjoy the luxuries you do.

Pause each day and silently thank God. In that moment also plead for the safety of girls around the world. Pray for the war to end and for violence on girls to stop.

Make peace with your surroundings, your siblings and when you can, talk about the importance of a peaceful world. Share your dreams on what a peaceful world would mean to girls your age.

Lastly baby girl, the world can be rough, for girls. You need to know these truths. We talk about them sometimes. You’ve asked questions about the violence on girls and women. Unfortunately, the world can be violent on girls. But we can change this if we all pull together, if we encourage and cultivate a non-violent culture. Because it takes those with an unwavering commitment, those who can go an extra mile. And when you can, where you are, choose to spread happiness. Choose love. The world needs it.

Mummy loves you a lot. I love mothering you. It’s such a pleasure. Thank you for your tender and soft spirit, it helps all of to slow down and be at peace. You are an amazing child.

Love,

Mum.

My war with spinning.

My relationship with bicycles has always been rocky. I mean from years
back; during the formative years when all the kids my age learnt cycling;
when the older siblings and parents would help you ascend and then
hold on to the bike while you practiced coordination and balance, under
the caring eyes of family.

I still did not trust.

This is despite multiple invitations and requests to try make it work,
encouragements that trying never killed anyone. I have resisted and
maintained my distance. Until my boned hardened and my brain
solidified. Until my body grew in generosity.

My thoughts refused to surrender to an object that was never meant to
accommodate my generous body; an object modelled after somebody
many times smaller than a ‘normal’; sized woman. An act of injustice,
intended to alienate me.

Who fits into this thing?

I tried it a few times, but was never able to go the entire lap. It was just
tough to find a comfortable sitting position.

“You sit like this, not like that. Make yourself comfortable”, the gym
instructor would say.

“The saddle should be up to your hips. Let your bikers snuggle
comfortably on the paddles…”

‘Yeah right, if you had my kind of body you’d know there cannot be a
comfortable sitting position on this thing’, I am thinking.

Do bicycle manufacturers think car builders missed the mark when they
catered for all shapes and sizes? Why do they want to marginalise us?
I’d then spin with a drag, never really keeping the pace with the rest of
the team.

I can’t be spinning on an instrument of injustice, of marginalisation, of
violence on my body. An instrument that conjures up images of brutality.
Yah I know, I’ve gone extreme. But think about it, clothes have sizes, car seats are much wider to cater for an average weight. Did you just think, I
am probably more than average? But these seats are too small.

The two times I brought the cushion for the seat, it didn’t matter how
much I fastened, it would still slide off, and would be left negotiating
sitting positions.

I have read stories of man becoming impotent from years of cycling.
They say the prolonged friction on that particular body part can lead to
numbness and resultant impotence. I’m not a man, but sometimes these
stories run through my mind as I ascend this body of metal.

Why is a bicycles seat, a one size fits all? What about the voluminous
woman. What do we do with the parts of our bodies that cannot find
space on this metal machine? Should they dangle, unsupported, on the
sides? That’s the unfair part. If other humans have bodies that fit inside
this thing. Then surely there has to be sizes for all of us.

Anyway I have given up the struggle. I couldn’t fight for ever. Even in
politics the opposing camp sometimes surrenders their armoury and
warms up to the ruling. So today I’m spinning in vengeance. Like a
wounded buffalo, I’ll ride this thing.

Humans are all good

People are generally good. They thus often aim for good, doing the right and acceptable things. Normal people don’t usually veer off to deliberately do evil, to hurt and destroy their kind.

But humans are just that, humans, they find themselves on the roads they never imagined walking on. Most retrace their footsteps and look for where they lost the road, re-join and go back home.

But some walk on, deciding to see how far the road would take them – and excited about the prospects of new experiences. They stay on the wrong road with reasons and justifications, convincing themselves they would return after the next stop? The next stop become the next village “how can I drive such a long distance and return before seeing a few places”.

Before they know it, they are at the most alluring, enticing, all-things-provided-for resort. There is so much going to think about anything, but fun.

Days turn into months, months into years.

What happened to me? How did I end up here?

They decide to live here for good and only visit their home once in a while. They are, however, convinced that everything here is wrong, the place, the people, the fun. But they have gone way too deep? Home is too dry, too routine, too backwards.

But when the curtains are drawn and the house falls silent, fear over powers them. They fear being found out, they fear that this life, at the wrong place, might just collapse. What would they become?

The inevitable arises. “Why didn’t I return earlier?”

I found love, or did I?

I allowed myself the sweetness of being wowed, of being held and guided to unfamiliar spaces. I allowed myself the luxury to go without asking.

I learnt to trust at first instance…

I let my emotions free, wild, allowing them to experience
new feelings – permitting them to stretch and dare without questions. To float in and with the waters.

My heart slithered with the oil, feet gliding along, indifferent to the possibilities of stumbling and falling.

Eyes closed, I danced the length and breadth of the distance. I ran, crawled and rolled over – dancing to the music in my head, solo,to myself, to the world, to the winds and its hisses.
I danced to new melodies, performed for imaginary audiences.

I plan holding tight to you, Love. I hope you don’t slide through my
fingers. Please stay – with me.

But I don’t trust my heart to contain this delicate and
fragile feelings, these sacred moments.

I have hope,  though, that  this new love, wants to hang around, forever. That it is pleased to occupy my sensitive being; thrilled to intensify my heartbeat. With a rather rickety assurance, I watch, hoping, it enjoys instilling new energies, raising my hopes, exciting my spirit.

My heart wants me to believe we were both looking, that you needed a heart and I desired a tenant, an occupier – and as such we are both here, to stay, together. That we will, ward off destructions and nature what connected us, the first time.

But how do I keep this going? How do I maintain the momentum?I forget you are LOVE. You occupy hearts, in their kinds.

Please use experience and stay with me…forever.

Can I choose which identity to adopt as and when? Yes

I’m a church girl. I grew up in Lontone before joining my current ‘fire’ church. I am a mother, wife, a 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 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.

A journey to home

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.

I’m 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.

We hide sanitary pads, did you know?

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…