It is the next morning and I have just finished my cleaning. I am sitting in the kitchen eating bread and having some tea. The margarine tastes very nice as it melts in my mouth because of the hot sweet tea. I love having these moments when the house is empty and I can eat simple food. Unfortunately, they don’t happen often enough, as Bhut’Manga always wants his fancy food with weird spices. I was always taught that it is very impolite to cook for someone and then choose to eat something different from what you have served them. So I mostly suffer silently, then take complete joy on days like this.
I am startled when I hear a knock on the door. Nobody ever comes here, especially at this time of the day. I peer out of the window first, catching a glimpse of my unexpected visitor. Oh no! I had forgotten about MaDube’s promise.
I take a deep breath, and open the kitchen door slowly, making sure I stand so that there is no space for her to enter. I cannot let her in, and if Bhud’Manga were to suddenly appear, he must be able to see that she decided to come here of her own accord and I did not invite her.
We greet each other politely and she tells me that she just wanted to check on me. Check on me? Why? Am I sick? Ofcourse I only think this in my heart, for I dare not say such a wicked thing out loud. I have never been ‘checked on’ by a stranger, and I am not sure how to respond and so I just smile and thank her for the effort. I push my way out and shut the door behind me, making it clear the boundaries that we have to stick to.
MaDube doesn’t seem annoyed with me though. Infact, the whole time she has been talking to me, she has been looking directly at my face. She actually has not tried to cast a glance into the the house. She really looks interested in talking only to me. This is very strange ofcourse, and even makes me feel very self-conscious. But I must admit; somewhere hidden inside me, I really like it.
MaDube asks me questions about my background. She doesn’t ask about my boss and the working conditions, and her tone is different from the other women on the street. I don’t tell her everything about myself ofcourse, just that I am a Zulu girl, originally from KZN. I tell her my mother works ’emakhishini’ but I do not tell her in which city, and I tell her my father is dead. I will not go into the weird details of my life with a stranger. It is always better to remain evasive.
After about 15 minutes, she is ready to leave, and for the first time I really look at her. I see the soft skin that is accentuated by the graceful lines of laughter that have urched themselves definitively in her, over her many years of her life. She was never the most beautiful woman in the room, but clearly she was always the purest. She has the unmistakable gentle spirit of a dove. This woman is genuine, and has been for many years.
‘Ukhonza kuphi kengane yam’?’
I melt inwardly when she calls me ‘ngane’ but my countenance maintains its lifeless expression. I can only respond honestly and tell her that I don’t. I regret it almost immediately, because I shouldn’t have. She now insists that she will find a church by Sunday and take me with her. Aaaargghhhh! This woman! Do I not look old enough to decide for myself? Hmm, people these days; they meet you for 2 seconds and decide they run your existence, even the number of times you must sit on a toilet. I am not used to this. (sigh) I am used to being alone.
Unfortunately, MaDube makes her visits a daily occurrence. She takes from me, my ten o’clock bliss and I am not sure what to make of it. On one hand, she has taken away that one thing that is mine, it belongs to me, its my moment. On the other hand, she provides me with company, and it feels rather nice. it evokes certain feelings I thought had died, a long time ago. The simplicity of being asked if I slept well, and if my body is strong does something to me that I cannot quite explain. Its not that Bhut’Manga never asks, he does, everyday. But this is different. MaDube seems to care for no reason at all, and that? That amazes me.
Everyday she talks about what she would have read in the morning in her Bible. Today she says she read that the joy of the Lord is her strength. I don’t really understand that. I mean, how does someone else’s joy give another person strength? Unless it means the same as how I felt when I called mama on the weekend after sending her some money from the grocery store. She was so happy to hear my voice, and I was so happy to hear her being happy. But, isn’t this different though? My mother exists, she is a real person. But the Lord does not. Does He? I don’t know. I think that if He does, then He chooses who He wants to associate with, because I, personally, still haven’t met Him.
On Saturdays and Sunday’s I must rest; Bhut’Manga says so. He says I must find places to go and visit and enjoy myself. Sometimes he says this whilst dancing in a funny way, imitating revelers at a non stop party. Shame, he tries to make me laugh. He is very kind and tries to treat me as a family member, but I will not to be too friendly, because it’s not healthy to do that with ones employer. I am here to work, and work I must.
Because it is Saturday, I am leaving for the day and I will spend it by the water. I don’t really have anywhere else to go, so I always go and sit in a cool place and watch the people and their families. They play, relax, run and jump into the water. Some of them even bring their dogs and run around with them. Tjo, but some dogs are clever. They do funny tricks and styles and listen to what their owners say. Ofcourse, I still cannot understand how a man can love a dog like his own child. It seems preposterous to me, I mean it is after all a dog.
I have packed my food and put it in my small bag. I will be fine for most of the day and I will return at sunset. I don’t sleep out. I mean, where would I do that? Although many a time, I wish I could afford to spend the night in a luxurious hotel and be waited on, hand and foot. Nonsense! How would an idiot like me ever achieve that? It is not for fools to long after the masters portion? The crumbs of the servants are more fitting for them. I am not even worth the pillow upon which I dream that ludicrous dream.
The day is beautiful and I have found my spot from which to enjoy it. There is a rocky area leading to the top of a small hill. It is full of vegetation and is very cool and calm. The vines and leaves are so thick and provide a beautiful, calm haven, for the mind to relax and run away to distant enchanted lands. I discovered that if I walk a little further there is a cove of vegetation that I can hide in and I often go there if I do not find someone there first. It is rare though and so I usually enjoy the benefits of this amazing place, all by myself.
As I am sitting, I cannot help but see the remaining flowers of the past season, and the way they are still fighting for their own moment of recognition for their beauty. I wish I had the tenacity that they have. They thrust out their petals like they are the only ones in the area and they demand the attention from ones eyes. I am captured. I cannot ignore them. I appreciate their beauty.
The birds are singing again. They are singing a song of freedom. The freedom to go anywhere that they like, the freedom to be themselves in the midst of hundreds just like them. Their minds are clearly individual. They move around, each with its own agenda – and it’s okay. No judgement, no persecution, no hate, no fighting; they just exist. They exist to fulfill their individual purposes.
What is my purpose in this life? A girl born into hardship, not by choice, but for whom it was dictated. My mother’s husband died, and so his younger brother took over, so that he could ‘grow his older brother’s legacy’. I am the product of a tradition that serves to multiply the members of a clan, without considering the repercussions of forced and loveless unions. This man, who procreated with my mother, did it out of duty, and so he never looked at me as his daughter. In his eyes I am the fulfillment of an obligation he was never remunerated for, and so he is heartless and cold towards me. And for this reason, I choose to believe that I have no father. Just a sperm donor who happens to still be alive.
My mother is a strong woman for staying and for taking everything thrust at her with grace. However, I believe that her loyalty to her dead husband clouded her ability to reason, and step out of the abusive situation that she was pushed into by her husbands kinsmen. I refused to do that. I was not going to become her; I was not going to let him use me like a rag and throw me in the rubbish pile for any stray dog to piss on. I was going to run; fast, and without tiring; never looking back, and never to be seen again. And so here I am. I did it! I accomplished! I won! And yet, I still feel empty, I feel alone, I feel cast away and I feel very hopeless.
What is a girl to do to smile like the Lizzie’s of this world; to dance like the Bhut’Manga’s of this life, to dream like the Nandi’s of this land? Is it reserved for a chosen few? Handpicked, whilst the rest of us were sleeping? Did they campaign better before time and win the lottery of life, fulfillment and happiness? Could I not have received even a consolation prize of just one positive thing happening to me without my having to struggle for it? I am tired of living a life of misery, knowing I did not ask to be born. For goodness sake, is life not aware that it was just thrust on me and I tired of it. I am so very tired.
Every time I come here, my mind is cast into the same myriad of thoughts of how vain and futile life can be. The only real reason I continue to rise in the mornings is so that I can receive my salary and send mama her portion so that she can help take care of my siblings. It is such a redundant life, but someone must live it, and it seems that that someone, is me.
As the day ends I walk back home and into my bedroom, with nothing accomplished but the growing of the sorrow in my heart. My entrance is discreet, for I must not disturb them, I must not be a nuisance. After all, it is my day off, and in theory, I am not even here.
Bonus Chapter tomorrow morning 🙂
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