The shoes don’t fit- Part II: “I want to live”
I can hardly recognize the person I have become when I look at my reflection in the mirror. I have become a foreigner in my own body. These feelings are not mine, they were brought from elsewhere. These sunken eyes do not belong to me. This weary body…mine used to be light. This sullen smile and embittered thoughts were all brought into my life. I want to live. All I ever wanted, and still do, is to have a life worth living. Not one forced upon me. I wish I had been born a boy, they would have had no one to give away. I’d probably be sitting somewhere in my office and spinning in my chair right now, thinking about what I’d be having for lunch and making weekend plans with my friends. I’d be my brother, but better. I would not allow my parents to give my sister away because tradition dictates, I would be a different boy. I’d be a brother who cares.
It’s the third month and my resentment towards my parents has grown so strong that almost all the thoughts I have about them include all kinds of severe pain inflicted on their lives, death included. My mind has become a war zone. Accidents. Body dismembering. Stab wounds. Broken ribs. Death. All these things have found a dwelling place in my head, and I can’t think them without my parents in the same thoughts. I am filled with so much rage that I cannot control.
“Ko’koo”, a voice interrupts my thoughts, and a woman enters my room before I could say anything. It is the husband’s sister. The husband. Not my husband.
“O na le baeng mogatša’a buti. Batswadi bago ba re ba feta ba go hlola”.
I am shocked almost immediately. I was not expecting them.
The trip to the sitting room, where they are waiting for me, feels so long but somehow I do not want it to come to an end. I just want to keep on walking and end up somewhere, in a part of the world that is free of this imprisonment. I find them waiting for me. I sit down and greet them. My mother looks sad, but I do not care. I am raging inside, and the picture of them together really make me want to scream. They are together because they fell in love, that’s what they told me. My brother and I came as a result of them making love. The house they built, the home they created for us, the environment they raised us up in, all came to be because they loved one another. And that is the opposite of this life they have chosen for me. I live in a house I did not build, a house filled with hunger and pain and resentment, a house I wish I never raise children in, in fact, I do not wish to have his children. I cannot call what happens in my bedroom making love, because it isn’t. It is war.
“Ngwanaka, how are you? We miss you and we hope gore ba go sweri gabotse ka mo gaRapampiri”, my father says looking at me.
I keep quiet.
“Hunadi ngwanaka, le lehono ga se o potlise pelo lekgarebe laka?” he continues, and I still keep quiet, looking down.
“Ngwanaka, ke a tseba gore o sa kwatile, ga se rena hle, re gapeletswa ke setšo.Dilo tse di direga ka mokgwa wo ka lebaka la gore there were agreements when you were born”, my mother says, reaching for my hand. I shift so that she cannot reach me, and look at her. She looks away.
“I know you are angry, but we do not have a choice”
They do have a choice. They had a choice all those years when they decided to put me up for marriage when I could not agree or disagree to it. They have and have always had a chance.
“The truth is that it was not us ngwanaka who agreed on this. Your grandmother and the great grandmother of this family reached an agreement when you were born. Your grandmother’s house was built on a piece of land that belongs to this family. Because she could not afford to pay for the land, they agreed that motlogolo wa kokoa’go wa mosetsana wa mathomo o tla nyalwa ke motlogolwana wa mokgekolo waka mo, gomme lenyalo leo ya ba payment ya all the years your grandmother has stayed kua gae. Ke be nka se gane ngwanaka, ke setšo. Molato o be o swanetši go patelwa.”
I could not believe my ears. I, who had had so many dreams and hopes for my future now have my life on hold because of some land debt. The cruelty of this realization left my stomach in knots. Of all things I could have been in life, I was reduced to a scanty form of payment.
“We wanted to tell you the truth before you were brought you here but we couldn’t. We know how much you loved your grandmother.” My mother’s voice was now becoming a source of irritation. The sound of it felt as if she’s sprinkling soapy hot water on a burn wound. My grandmother would never do such to me, she would never hurt me. She loved me. I feel overwhelmed. Something in me is surging. All I ever wanted was to live. To be significant. My grandmother’s betrayal from the grave is humiliating and excruciating. I do not know who she was anymore. I feel like my heart is about to chime for the last time. I can’t breathe. Could this be death?
My disbelief is met by the throbbing pain of the cold hard cement meeting my knee. I fall down and I wail uncontrollably.
All I ever wanted was to live. Not this life.
Continues in the next segment of #StorytellingThursday