This is somewhat a letter to BoPapa baka (my father). I say somewhat because it is not addressed to him and so it is not really to him and yet it is about him and I imagine gore ke boa lebonna (that I am speaking with him).
Today you came and collected us from school after a late night there. I want to say I’m happy you did, but I’m conflicted. I have become accustomed to finding my way home at the end of the night and breathing the town’s air with the few cars on the road and few people and many stars in the sky, sometimes there’s a full moon out.
During the car ride home Papa, you talked about how Girls’ College should use this time for academic lessons instead and how this (Interhouse Singing) is a waste of time.
I said ehe (yes).
You talked about my sick aunty, you said so many things about her; how she is better, how you have just come from visiting her, how she is your mother’s daughter.
I said ehe (yes).
You talked about how life was for you when you were growing and how we are made of weaker stuff and cannot handle anything.
I said ehe (yes).
You could have said the sky is lime green and I would still have said ehe (yes).
Papa, I want to say more all the time but saying yes is what is feels safe, lest I say the wrong thing. I didn’t always just say yes. Once upon a time I said more and regretted it.
There is a lot I long to tell you. Opinions I wish to share with you. This way maybe I would understand you. Understand the man who believes in being cruel in order to be kind.
The conversations we could have dear father. To the people that wonder why I often say yes, here is an explanation. I feel safe when I say yes especially when it is what you want to hear.
The conversations we could have dear father…
There are four old men in this red pick up truck and only two of us teenage girls. My little sister who is fifteen, often mistaken to be my twin and I, a seventeen year old young girl. I should be worried I think. I know for a fact that my friends are worried and that Tao is going to text me or call me to make sure I got home safe. It is 21:33. The cool wind feels like a caress on my skin. I decided not to wear a sweater over my best friend’s huge t-shirt that I wish I don’t have to give back, only it’s her favourite so I cannot keep it forever perhaps for a while but not forever. It’s not a dark night, the stars are not shining as bright but they are shining and that’s good enough right this moment. I take a deep breath and breath in the cold air, feel it move into my body, feel it fill up my lungs making me feel whole just for a moment. I wonder who else is sharing this moment with me out there. Someone like me who looks to the stars to dream, to remember she has dreams?
My mother is calling. I answer the phone.
“Hello?” My voice is quiet and smaller than it normally is. She probably can feel my tiredness through it.
“Nes’noba kai?” She’s asking where we are. The language is Sotho.
I think back to how we got here. It took 15 minutes of waiting for an et (the small cars we use as public transport in Bulawayo). Once we made it to town we had to wait a while for transport to go home. When nothing came, I decided there was nothing else we could do and so my little sister and I jumped into the red pickup truck with men who could be anything really. Rapists. That’s the first that comes to my mind. Next is thieves. With the current situation in my homeland, Zimbabwe, people are looking to make money in any way possible. Between my little sister and I what would be considered of importance are 2 J3 Samsung phones and cash. But really I’m more worried about my journal containing all my most recent letters from my best friend, Bonnie. Two of which I have not yet read.
These men really could be anything.
“ReAscot reboya Kumalo.”
I tell boMma baka (my mother) that we are at Ascot going to Kumalo. I can picture her in her bedroom probably worried, waiting for us to get home. I think to myself I have done this countless times my sister who’s new to this is safe with me. The only thing I don’t know for certain is if we are safe with these man. I look up at the stars and dream of happier endings for days as beautiful as the one I have just had.
Marriage, tradition and religion as veneers of social ills and injustices.
Veneers are attractive appearances that cover or disguise the true nature or feelings of something. There is the sentiment in some cultures and or religions that echoes that women are unclean when they have their monthly period, as if menstruation is not something that is in their nature, as if it is not part of the process of the rebirth of our species. In a household somewhere a mother is telling her daughter, “You cannot go out and pursue your passions, you must get married and have babies and take care of your husband. That is the way it is.” The young girl is grounded and who knows what she could have been? No one will ever know. Let us also talk about the old Chinese tradition of foot binding women’s feet in the hopes of attracting a wealthy bachelor who would marry the young girl. They were called “Lilly feet” and were said to represent beauty. Sadly it is mostly women who are subject to these social ills and injustices all in the name of tradition, culture, religion etc. Can religion, tradition and marriage be considered good reason for these social ills or is it simply excuses made by people with an unwillingness to change, who prefer to remain stuck in old traditions yet living in a fast changing world?
To look at you and see just a boy is something of once upon a time. Something of the first day we met. I can’t remember who you were to me before you became more than just a boy.
Memories of how you made me smile till I cried, till my cheeks were sore from how wide my lips spread and till you stopped to look at me, would be the first page to tear from our book.
Memories of how you took me places, opened my eyes to things I was blind to, taught me some skills I didn’t know I needed, showed me parts of you, helped me dream, listened to my voice notes, read my long paragraphs, sang to me (this was my most favourite), shared my love for little things like stars and rainy days would be the next chapter to take away from me.
Memories of how you made me feel so strongly, annoyed me so much, worried me so much, made me feel angry, made me cry, made me so happy oh, I was so happy and everyone would say how I was glowing and I would smile and hold my secret close to my heart. I was falling for you. These pages too you would have to take from me.
Memories of when I was able to look at you and see just a boy are blurry. Parts of our story are too precious to put down here and you are a private person. You have taught me the value of privacy and so I cannot tell it all. To forget how you still show me you care, how you still listen, how you still make me smile, how you are still here would be what to take from me. It would require taking all of you away from me for me to look at you and see less than more than just a boy…
P.S. I created my blog two months ago and I didn’t know which of my written work to share. To the person that inspired this, lately you have been on my mind and today I felt the need to write and it so happens to be Valentine’s Day tomorrow. LOL. I’m scared you might not read this and I’m scared you will read it but I decided gore se kesebaka saka (Sotho for “that this is my space”). This will be my space for days when I need to talk but it’s much simpler to write than tell.
To look at you and see just a boy…