The shoes don’t fit – By Tshegofatso Rasekgotoma
Part I: The welcoming word
Upon arrival, we were led into a room that looked like was once a sehlaka. Some parts of the wall still had black substances that looked like old smoke adorned on them. The floor was pale cement that was clearly starved of polish. The centre of the room had a hole, although covered by part of the mat we sat on, I could tell that this hole used to be a fire place. This reminded me of my late grandmother’s house in winter, we had the exact hole in the middle of our our sehlaka, and would sit around it and listen to grandmother’s stories while being warmed by the fire. I can even smell the inviting aroma of simmering dithlaku on the fire, and can see the chechisa warming water just by the side, balancing itself by the driefoot carrying the clay black pot that was used especially for cooking comforting food like maraka, dithlaku and ditloo during winter school holidays. I could smell the pungent scent of wet walls and feel the stinging smoke in my eyes on rainy days, and hear drops from the leaking roof hitting the metal dish placed just adjacent to the leaking roof. The most amazing days of my life, but that was then. Had grandmother not died, I am sure these memories would still be fresh from last winter. I do not think at 26 years old, I would have outgrown the experience of these moments. I let out a smile, and surprise myself at the realisation.
The quietness in the room is palpable, I am secretly expecting someone, a super hero of some sort to come and rescue me. I am here, but I wish I wasn’t. When my parents decided that this is where I belonged, they failed to extend the courtesy of informing me, until two months ago. At least I would have mentally prepared myself. Mentally. I do not think that I will ever be physically prepared. The thought haunts me. I want to escape, ke tšwe ka monga wa seloko, and never be found. But tradition is standing guardian at the gate, restraining me. Restrain. I am deprived of my personal liberty.
“Ke maemo go nyalwa gaRapampiri. Re a go amogela ngwetši ya rena”, a voice interrupts my thoughts, its owner filling the chair across the room with her big body weight. It is not marriage if I did not agree to it, I respond to her, but in my head. I study her carefully. She has big eyes, and chubby cheeks that are darker than the rest of her face. I suspect she’s using one of those creams and they’ve dealt her a blow. Her nose looks like someone is putting their index and middle fingers on it, and pushing it down almost as a way restricting air from getting in and out. Below it lies her lips, big and oily, and I am convinced they are oily as a result of eating nama from the slaughtered cow. She doesn’t look tall, and the orange coloured towel she’s wrapping on top of what I suspect is a green dress makes her look unfriendly.
“Ngwetši ga e lebeleli ba bogadi ka mahlong sesi. Kgane ga se ba go laya kua ga geno?”
I look down almost immediately. She stands up and comes to me, pulls my chin up and then towards her, and looks at me in the eyes. She turns me to the left and then to the right, and studies my face as if she’s specifically looking for something, and gives out an almost smile mixed with an annoyed face reaction. Her clothes reek of fresh blood. The smell of fresh meat, from all the meat she was probably cutting and cooking pierces my nose. She must be one of those komang ka nna cooks when it comes to these types ceremonies.
“O botse ka nnete ngwetši ya rena”, she says with her mixed reaction and confusing face.
I keep quiet.
“Mara kamo ke ga Rapampiri, re tla bona gore o tlaba botse go fihla kae.Ka mo bohlaba tšatši ga one ya lesogana tsatsanka la go ema ka maoto, letsete le a tshologana. Ba tla tla ba go botša gore go tlaba bose, batla be ba go fora ke go botše ngwetši ya gešo, ge e le nna ke go botša di sa tloga, di sa tlile go kgatlampana”
I do not know how to react. A thought tells me to stand up and leave, just like two months ago when I found out my future had been sealed. I want to, but am restrained. My desire to disappear is heightened. Restraint against desire. I want to be freed from all this traditional madness. It is my mother who should be hearing these words, not me. This was her choice. I am afraid of being here. And of leaving- of freedom. Because tradition says this is where I belong. My life will never be the same again.
Continues in the next segment of #StorytellingThursday