Monday, December 10, 2007

The morning after

She cooks bacon and eggs for breakfast
A special treat for the family
He hugs and kisses her
Thanks her for a nice meal.

A pretty picture they paint
I can almost forget
The sound of his fist on her face
Her body crashing on the cupboard
With a thud

The shouts and insults of the night before
The taste of fear and shame
At his rage ......

"Niki hurry up!"
My friend Anna calls from the door
"The principal will make us clean the yard
If we’re late for school."

I grab my bag
Feet pounding and breath heaving
Anna and I run to get to school on time

No matter how fast, I run
I cannot escape
The sound of my father’s fist
On my mother’s face
Her body crashing onto the cupboard
With a thud

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Old Man Moseki

I was in grade two (about six years old), and we were required to tell a folktale we’d heard from parents/grandparents as part of oral work.
Old Man Moseki walked down the road
Cutting across the village of Phokeng
He was going to visit his Ancestors
In graves on the other side of the river.
“I’m going to ask them to remove my bad luck and make us rich,” he told his wife..

While walking on the road, Old Man Moseki saw a round, shiny thing on the ground.
It was a R2 coin.
Old Man Mosekipicked up the coin.
He looked at it.
Then he put in back on the ground.
“Let me leave the coin here. I’m sure I’ll find it when I come back from visiting my ancestors,” he said.

Old Man Moseki kept on walking.
Along the way, he saw a piece of paper fluttering on the ground.
He bent down, grabbed the paper.
The old man picked up the R200 note.
He was very happy.
“This money will buy a lot of food for my family!” he thought.

Old man Moseki did not want to take the money with him to the ancestors.
What would they think if he came asking for riches while carrying such a large amount of money?

He decided to hide the money in the bushes.
He put the R200 note under a big rock.
The rock was hidden by the grass
Growing on the sides of the road.
“No one will find this money until I come back,” he said.

Old Man Moseki walked on.
Near the river, he met Radikgomo, one of the riches men in the village.
“Dumela Ntatemogolo,” Radikgomo greeted the old man. “I hope you are well?”
The old man told Radikgomo of his trip.
“I am going to visit the ancestors to ask them to make me as rich as you,” old man Moseki said.

Radikgomo was very happy for Old Man Moseki.
“I hope the ancestors hear your plea and make you rich too,” he said.

Radikgomo also asked the old man a favour.
“I need to build another kraal for animals, and I was wondering if you would keep some of my donkeys until the job is done.”

Radikgomo also said Old man Moseki could use the donkeys for his own business and to serve the community. :”The donkeys will bring you some money and I would be very grateful for the help,” he said.

But the old man refused to help Radikgomo.
“Get away from me!” he said. “I thought you were a good person, but now I see you are jealous of me. You know the ancestors will bless me with wealth. Now you are trying to keep me so busy taking care of your business that I will not have time to take care of my own.”

Old Man Moseki walked away, muttering to himself. ‘The ancestors will answer my pleas, see if they won’t!”

He walked crossed the river over the bridge.
He walked the short distance to the graveside, where many his parents and their parents were buried.
He stood near his mother’s grave and explained his mission.

He pleaded with the ancestors to take away his bad luck.
He begged them to make him rich.
He promised to do anything they wanted as long as they gave him this one thing.

On the way back home, he met Radikgomo.
Radikgomo was looking for a donkey that escaped from his kraal.
Radikgomo did not speak to the old man.
He looked the other way so their eyes do not meet.
He did not want to fight with the old man again.
“Humphhh!” Old man Moseki snorted.

Old Man Moseki walked to the tree where he left the two rand note.
He turned the rock.
There was nothing underneath.
“Oh no, who saw me put the money here?”

Thinking of the five cent coin, he walked as fast as his creaky bones would carry him.
His eyes were glued to the ground.
He looked for his five cent coin.
But he did not find it.
Someone else walked down the road, saw the shiny coin and took it.

Old Man Moseki got angry.
“My ancestors have abandoned me,” he cried.

When he arrived at home, he told his wife what had happened.
“I don’t know what to do now to remove our bad luck,” he said.

Old Man Moseki’s wife shook her head sadly. “Moseki, we are not poor because we have bad luck. We are poor because you are blind to our good fortune, even when it dances around your feet, begging it to take it home,” she said.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Across the sea

I have a warm and friendly feeling
As I think of you today
I wish we could visit

But you are many miles away

Your friendship becomes most dear
Everytime we speak.
Your calls bring you closer to my heart
For your soul shines through
Across the miles and sea.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Deaf and blind

I lie on my bed, curtains drawn, blankets over me
Pretending to be asleep, trying not to make a sound
She calls my name, asks me if I’m alright
I have to talk to you, she says
Your brother is ok

Trapped in horror and shame
I want to shout, rage and ask her:
How could you let him hurt your son like that?
Will you let him hit me like that?

I am too afraid to say it
Because I know she is as helpless as we are
Fears him as we do, loves him as we do
Our dear father

I am invisible, I am spellbound
As he hits and kicks, shouts and swears
Deaf and blind to my brother’s pleas
Mesmerized by the violence and the blood

As quickly as it begun, it ends
Mama comes to life, rushes to her my brother’s side
I am so sorry, she cries
Hugging him, wiping the tears and blood
I am invisible to them both

Shattered by fear and guilt
The bitter taste of shame on my tongue
I slink off to my room
Under the dark of blankets
My world of quiet and peace

Are you okay, Mama asks
But all I see is the look on her face,
While she wiped blood from my face
Smoothed cream on my aching body
That day not so long ago

Please, please, please, she begged
Don’t ever interfere again, try to be invisible
And whatever happens, do nothing, say nothing

I’m fine, I say
I don’t tell her, that I fear my turn will come again
He will slap, hit and kick, shout and swear at me
And all will be invisible, deaf and blind to my pleas

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Amakeia, deur A.G. Visser

The first time I heard this poem, it was early evening, and it was raining. My mother was preparing supper and explaining the poem to my older brother, and she took him through it step by step, telling it as if it was a story.

I didn't know it was a poem; I thought it was a real story, about real people. Maybe an event that happened years before, and I couldn;t understand why my mother wanted to talk about it. It was only when they saw the tears running down my cheeks that they realised the story was upsetting me, and explained that it was a poem for school.

Reading the poem always evokes part of the sadness I felt for Amakeia then.


AMAKEIA ~ deur A.G. Visser ( a poem by A.G, Visser)

In die skadu van die berge,
bos-beskut aan alle kant,
staan alleen die hartbeeshuisie
op die grens van Kafferland.

Saggies neurie Amakeia
op die wal van Kei-rivier,
tot hy slaap, die tere wiggie
van die blanke pionier:

"Stil maar, stil maar, stil Babani;
kyk hoe blink die awendster.
Niemand sal vir kindjie slaan nie -
stil maar, al is Mammie ver."

Amakeia had belowe
toe haar nonna sterwend was,
om die hulpelose kindjie
tot hy groot was, op te pas.

Liefd'ryk sorg sy vir die wit kind,
tot vir hom die lewenslig
straal uit aia Amakeia's
vrind'lik-troue swart gesig.

Onheilspellend sien sy tekens,
oorlog kom daar in die land:
Snel die inval, huis en hawe
uitgemoor en afgebrand.

Selfvergetend, doodveragtend,
met die wit kind op haar rug,
na die Amatola-berge
het sy ylings heen gevlug.

"Stil maar, stil maar, pikanienie;
oor die bergtop rys die maan.
Niemand sal vir ons hier sien nie;
môre sal ons huis toe gaan."

Ag, dat oë van verspieders
ook haar skuilplaas moes ontdek!
"Spaar hom, hy's so klein nog," smeek sy
met die hande uitgestrek.

Woedend tier die wilde bende:
"Sterf of gee die wit kind hier!"
"Oor my lewelose liggaam ..."
antwoord Amakeia fier.

"My belofte aan my nonna -
beste wat daar ooit nog was -
waar hy gaan, moet Amakeia
saamgaan om hom op te pas."

"Is jul lewend nie te skei nie,
bly dan in die dood vereen -
kort proses met haar, Maxosas,
laat die blink asgaaie reën!"
In die Amatola-klowe
sing nog net die winterwind
deur die riete in die maanskyn:
"Tula - Tula - stil, my kind!"