A Hymn to Mapholoba

candles

Dear Mapholoba

As you walked down the aisle towards death
On a red carpet
Woven with mercilessness
Like a street kid who seeks food in the dump
You sought help
But you were a night hope chose not to embrace
You happened to be pleasing in death’s eyes
And it saw you fit to be the new bride in its household

I’m sorry that when your soul was about to say “I do” to mortality, nobody was there to object

And we now have to forever hold our piece

I’m sorry it’s your face that death had to unveil that day
And that it’s your flesh
That displayed the art of those knives that night

Malome

I can’t begin to explain what a task it was
To accept that you were an accessory the graveyard could afford to wear
That your death was worthy of celebration to our enemies
And that even today
When grandma calls for me, her heart mistakenly presents your name on the page that is her tongue

I’m sorry that the furthest place you can take your son is the graveyard
Where he will give you flowers that’ll never know your hands
And “I love you’s” that’ll only blend in with the air
Never reaching your ears

What a task it is to accept

That the atmosphere no longer expects a visit from your smile
Nor are ears still expectant of your voice
And that your footsteps have become inkless writing on life’s path

Your departure
Birthed in me violent questions to God
Rage towards Him for giving cruelty a chance to shine

Because even today, we haven’t locked eyes with justice

Hence at times
I wake up to
Mornings clothed in remorse
Afternoons drowned in the image of your lifeless body
Nights where my heartbeat’s rhythm is one with grief

Mapholoba

I longed to see you souring in the skies of success

But your wings failed you before you could reach

It’s a pity
That in order for that funeral parlour to make a profit
You had to die
And we had to cry
But that is life

For one to succeed, somebody must suffer

So I must say

With your loss, we’ve had our fare share of tribulation

Will I do it Right?

Will I do it right?

Will I be enough sun in the summertime of their memory?
Will my words carry enough weight to sink under their rivers of thought?
Will my recital be enough a rhythm for their fancies to dance to?
Will my recital be a halleluyah worthy sermon?

I ask myself
Will I do it right?

Will their tongues ever agree to be landlord to my talent?
Will my recital be able to afford their approval?

Or will it be a beggar in the streets of their levels?
Will poetry be proud to call me its own?
Or will I just be proven to be in the wrong zone?

Will I do it right?

Will I be solid foundation for their favour to be built on?
Will their attention say yes, when my poetry asks for a dance?
Will my presence be beautiful enough to cause their ovation to stand in awe?

Will I do it right?

As I recite
Will I be a lonely sea?
With nobody to surf my waves?
Will my art be fertile sand their applause can be planted in?
Will the stage be unashamed of its association with me?
I wonder, will I be good enough?

These are thoughts that sometimes govern my mind
Before I remove the veil off the face of my talent

And I’m glad I’ve travelled that route of thought
Because then I wouldn’t have realized
That

My talent is too beautiful to be a wasteland candidate
Not everybody likes the sun
But it shines anyway
And so will my poetry

Because I was made for this
And this for me

 

 

Grandfather

My Grandfather’s smile victimizes the sorrow in me

Just the idea of him is a mutilation to my worries

When cold interrupts the warmth in me

His singing is the fire-starter inside myself

And when hope sees in me a dessert

he is the lightning that speaks of coming rain

 

My Grandfather

 

His feet kiss the alter

And like a choir, wise words leave his mouth

What beautiful music!

 

My cousins and I

We can never say we never knew love

For he is the love that spins the earth we are

Because our grandfather

His smile is the David to our wars

And in his heart lies a beat we can never get tired of dancing to

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not a Poem

New Phototastic Collage

“Lord, why couldn’t I be cooler? Why couldn’t I be as pretty as she is? Why couldn’t you make my personality glow like hers/his does? Why can’t they like me too? Look…  People don’t like me as much as they like her/him, I guess maybe I wasn’t made for greater things.”

These questions have been waltzing upon my life for a long time. With every step being a ritual calling upon blindness. I tend to think that my true sight has woken from its deep sleep and that I can finally see truth, but it tends to doze off and slumber at times. Hence I pray, that many young women who’ve been dancing floors to the same questions would crumble one day and never be a smooth surface for lie-infested dances.

This is for the young women who think they are an answer to earth’s uncertainty of a mistake. Those who wonder whether the footsteps of their formation are evident in His hands. Those who think they are rough drafts which mistakenly ended up among the final drafts. Those whose self-love bleeds yet they keep deceiving themselves by covering its wounds and never really curing them.

I too, know what it’s like to feel inadequate. For I’ve spent many years as darkness that ushered the light so it would be seen as light. But I was never the light. And I’m sorry that deception chose to play its tunes through you – you were never meant for such music. For you are a victim of thievery, stolen from the hands of truth and I hope it finds you one day.

The Refinery

In many occasions, we would meet people in town who didn’t know I was my mother’s daughter and after an exchange of greetings, they’d ask her: “Who is this?” When my mother mentioned that I was her daughter, they’d be engulfed in shock and tell me I was bigger than my mother. God knows how those remarks, so easily spoken, escorted me to many nights of tears and days of sorrow. I also recall a day when I decided to take a walk in the streets of Turfloop and I passed two young women who looked at me like they were looking at an alieness; they said: “yoh, bonang!”(meaning ‘look!’) And they laughed enjoyably. Those words and those laughs gave me a new revelation at the time: I was a comedian who didn’t have to say a word; all I had to do was reveal myself (body) and the world was already drowning in laughter.

Sometimes even the people whom you expect to offer you a helping hand in your downfall, are those who instead, kick you considering you’re already down. You see, being overweight was the best tour guide to people’s characters; my weight, somehow had the skill to charm people’s true colours out of their hiding places. Because of experiences such as those, you get to know who truly loves you and who not. I was once asked by a pastor what I was eating that was making me so fat, and what made it more embarrassing was that there were people around me who heard him utter those words. That was another flame a golden stone such as I had to endure.

310158_267511669955825_1800808312_n

There were other instances where a certain person in my neighbourhood would catch me passing by on my way home, from buying bread at the spaza; she’d say: “Aowa Lebo, I’m sure now you’re a few sizes bigger than me, what size do you wear?” She’d use those words to kill me and bury me with laughter afterwards. That was another injury I experienced but it was mine, so yes, I had to take it.

That was a season in my life where a lot of people came offering me gifts: insults, mockery, humiliation and the likes. And even though they weren’t pleasant gifts, today I am grateful for them because had it not been for them, I wouldn’t be who I am today and I wouldn’t have achieved what I’ve achieved. So yes, I am evidence that your enemies are there to promote you and I know there are many of you who were pierced by similar thorns in your paths. Sometimes it’s because of these experiences that we hate and reject people; we end up even wishing the worst for them because of how they invested their lives in hurting our feelings. God knows I wish it wasn’t that way but its reality and forgiveness sometimes happens to be a battle I still struggle to win. I’ve won in some cases but I strive to win the remaining battles with all that I am.

There was a fellow I grew up with, who constantly mocked me about my weight and always went hunting for weapons to remind me that I wasn’t pleasant and at that, he never failed. From then on, I held a huge grudge against him and hatred, in its homelessness, knocked at my door. I pitied it and opened my heart to it. And whenever his name was mentioned, the hate would begin singing loudly in the hallways of my soul. So after I lost weight, I wanted him to be my special guest as the hate performed a show for him because I wanted him to feel the pain I felt. But little did I know that unforgiveness and hatred were family members of folly – they were damaging me and not the other person. And as much as I thought I had forgiven him, I was very wrong because many times we think we have forgiven a person until we see them again! Then it all goes south.

The same thing accompanied me in my other friendships. It’s either they undermined me, made me feel small or just never saw in me a puzzle piece that matched their whole puzzle set. I have memories of bitterness shining through my window and that influenced my outlook on life. When the sun shines, it brings forth a bright day and in my case, bitterness had taken the place of the sun. When it shone, it shone nothing but darkness and it was all because of unforgiveness. Until someday, my mother told me that speaking what you feel to the particular people who hurt you is necessary in order to find peace. That’s when I took the decision to speak to some people who I felt deeply hurt by, about what exactly they did that offended me. This was not an act to make them feel bad but it was all because I wanted to make peace, not just between us but within myself. Trust me, it indeed paved the way for healing to reach me because many times we speak much about what people have done to us and we fly in skies of pain and resentfulness when the person who hurt us is having the time of their lives, not knowing that they exist in our galleries of resentfulness.

I guess some of us have to walk up a few staircases, sometimes one, in order to reach forgiveness – it’s a process. I don’t know how others do it but usually, time has to actively wait for me to forgive and as painful as it may be, it sometimes is very necessary to know every emotion that every step is associated with in the process of forgiveness.

Wow. I can’t believe that when I look back, I see that every experience was a piece of character made to build the tower that I am today. I am learning to love myself in even the areas that people don’t find pleasing. I am a product of the fact that hard or rather smart work pays off because all that emotional turmoil, the puddles of sweat that oozed from my body during exercise sessions, the change of diet and the unlearning I had to do was very difficult but it was worth it. Ever heard of the saying “Easy come, easy go?” Indeed, when you plant a tree, you will need to do everything required for it to begin to grow fruit. And until that happens, patience has to be invited to the party because it will not happen overnight. God wants us to grow gradually so that at the other end of the experience, we are not swift but strong.

Coming to think of it, some of the experiences I’ve tasted have left a bitter taste in my mouth. Even today, I still am victim to some struggles. I know you are somewhere on the other end of this blog post and if you’ve passed the same avenues as I; I’d like you to know that you are not a miscalculation of existence, nor are you a harsh consequence to your parents. You are a beautiful piece of embroidery on the face of earth, a necessary sentence in a meaningful story. I cannot say why you are the plant you are, the soil you were planted in and how you were watered but you alone can be you. There’s nobody you than the you that you are! Never doubt yourself because of other people’s perceptions of you; doubt your doubts instead. You have a responsibility to choose what you want to believe about yourself. If you thought you were the only one who knew this experience and had no friend to hug you and understand, this blog post was written for exactly that. It was carved and designed to be your friend and to hug you with every word within itself. If nobody ever told you you were beautiful and special, I’d like to take the onus: Young girl, even though sometimes you’re never the D they mention when they say it’s as easy as ‘ABC’, you are still a letter the alphabet would be incomplete without.

Until we meet again, a happy new year to you. This year, remember that not everybody likes the sun but it chooses to shine anyway – learn from it.

img_6046

 

“Jealousy Makes you Nasty”

20161127_151924I remember hearing that song from a fellow primary schoolmate. She was just casually singing and I somehow thought it was a fun song to sing and it became resident in my own voice to others. But little did I know that the song was a powerful message that I needed to take heed of. Looking back at my life as a little girl, I don’t remember believing in myself, feeling beautiful or deeming myself worthy of attention and affection. My heart fell in love with that and together we conceived jealousy. I would look at other girls and pick out things about them that just weren’t right in my view – I thought: “She can’t have it all together, there must be something about her that isn’t beautiful.” As I’ve grown over the years, I’ve realized that there absolutely was nothing wrong with them but that there was a lot that was wrong with me. That the real issue was that I was having difficulty with loving myself and embracing who I was.

I’ve been a dwelling place of jealousy for many years and finally when I was about 16, I realized that the jealousy was killing me, eating me up, destroying my soul, contaminating the good in me and not the women that were prey to my jealousy. And I began to ask God to help me; I asked Him to remove the jealousy that was inside me because I wanted to be free from it, I wanted to be free from the hate that came with it. I was tired of being bound a prisoner by it and I wanted to have a life of my own: to be happy, content, loving towards others and appreciative of other women. I must say, that prayer didn’t come with an immediate answer however the answer to it was exactly that – a journey. There were times when I felt like, “Yeah, I got this! No jealousy, no contamination.” But then that claim would be tested in the form of seeing a beautiful lady or somebody who was achieving more than I was – and it was back to square one.  It was a lengthy roller coaster ride until I really sat down and asked myself how the hell I was supposed to go about it because it hadn’t been solved. I don’t remember how but I realized that I truly wasn’t happy with myself as yet and that I hadn’t dealt with the root cause of the problem. That my prayer, instead of being “Lord, remove the jealousy from my heart.” had to be, “Lord, I need to accept and believe that you love me regardless of what I think of myself and then from being loved by you, I can know what love is and be able to love myself.”

From then on, I started to pick out the things I didn’t like about myself and the biggest one was my weight; I had always had problems with my weight and it had affected me all my life. Because being fat, nobody deemed me beautiful or attractive and that wounded me inside. And so I started with my diets and anything I could to try to lose weight. I had done those things before when I was younger but that was before I realized where the jealousy had stemmed from and how I needed to mitigate it. It was also a very bumpy road because I would get discouraged and stop. I struggled with staying consistent because I didn’t understand that it took patience and continuous fighting in order to reach my goal. I am a lot better than I was before because I have grown and I’m still growing.

IMG_9701.JPG

Today, I’m very slow to judge people who struggle with jealousy because I’ve walked the road before and I understand how it feels to feel insufficient.

So I’d like to say to anyone out there who resonates with this blog post in anyway, it’s okay to not be perfect. It’s okay to struggle because you’re human. It’s okay to have self-esteem issues (I’m not saying you should dwell on them) and you’re not alone. I understand and I know that you haven’t seen a gem in yourself yet and I hope that the day will come when you will be able to love yourself fully and know no comparison between yourself and anybody else. I pray for that day when you will break free from self hatred and fall in love with self. I hope that you will begin to see the beauty in yourself and appreciate it because you are a beautiful poem. Young woman, you are loved.

To be continued….

The Reason I Write

img_6034Even though I was raised by a wonderful family, a group of negative emotions have raised me too – loneliness, confusion, low self-esteem etc. From a young age, I have been a candidate of rejection from other children because of my weight and my calm personality. Many times, I was the one they least wanted to hang out with; the one the boys never noticed and if I was dating anyone, they would be joke of the year because I was very fat and just the epitome of ‘unwanted’.

I remember being a resident of jealousy and envy towards other females for many years and it wasn’t the best route to take – trust me! For all those years, I wanted to be someone else: not only was it about looks but it was also about personality. I was always observing the most loved young ladies in my circle and I would literally study their mannerisms and mimic them – talked like them, laughed like them, tried to dress like them, talked about things I thought they would talk about etc. I would dress up with the motive of ‘wooing them’ (wearing a different personality too) and trying to steer guys in my direction. And if I didn’t achieve that I would go home and cry tons of questions to God, asking why He created me because I was ugly and not worth people’s time or energy. I literally wanted to be deaths new best friend.

That explains a lot concerning my long time yearning for acceptance. Wherever I went, whatever I did, whoever I was with was because I was acceptance hungry. We all want to be accepted and need a sense of belonging but my longing for acceptance was like a dried-out ocean, thirsty for itself (water). No matter what I did, I was never good enough for the world and I was never viewed by the world the way I wanted.

That’s why I write: I write because I am a portrait of wounds. I write because I’m trying to lose the weight of all those negative words that were served to me on a silver platter. I write because literature has become a home for me – a home where I am free and can embrace my nakedness without fear of anyone’s opinions. I write because of those days when I felt I wasn’t hang-out savvy. I write because writing has agreed to feed from my emotions: my thoughts, my journey, all of me! I write because of those days I get dressed to go hunt for assurance in the looks of men and feed my confidence from them; of which an unsuccessful hunt would anorexify my confidence. I write because writing is an excellent herb – it heals even those wounds that sore better than eagles. I write because I’m a sinner; I do wrong and feel bad afterwards, ask for forgiveness and try again. I write because I am blooming in sands of excellence. Most of all, I write because humans are walking stories and I’m one of them.

This site is a platform I will use to express myself, hoping to motivate, heal and comfort anybody that may ever wear similar shoes. Everybody is welcome to comment and ask questions.

To be continued…