“A poor man once said that he would much rather be poor and happy than rich and miserable. He died a miserable, bitter man!” Pastor Ray Stephens stood tall in the counsel of the self-obsessed and self-righteous. He held the keys to every door and every safe on the church premises, a great man indeed. His teachings though were very different from what the other teachers at Sunday school were teaching, but as well, Pastor Ray was caught once with a Marijuana joint he claimed he had confiscated from one the older boys. He refused to disclose the name of the young lad “lest it tries his faith and stops him from coming to Sunday school, Jesus Christ would not let one of his own go astray, amen?”
Explain death to little children, lest it kills them when they are older and they mourn without intent, never really letting the dead ones go, wishing them birthdays long after they have passed, keeping even the minutest of memories alive. Explication means when they look at deceased people’s pictures, they will not cringe, but be strong enough to reminisce about them without falling apart. We are born, and we die, and the space in between is mercy, this we should teaching little children to cherish it, and not to fear it.
I met Lereko Mfono in 2015 at the Africa Youth Theatre and Dance Festival where he was presenting the reading of The Kids from Amandla Street. I hung closer to him during the festival and savoured his wealth of wisdom. I remember thinking to myself, is it possible that this man is a direct descendant of Samson? Because I had enjoyed his company and loved the respect he had for his work, I invited him to join the first Naane le Moya writing team, where he wrote quality stories and made readers fall in love with his mind. When he invited me to be stage manage The Kids From Amandla Street for its Soweto Theatre run, I had no reason to say no. I knew that I’d be in the presence of a beautifully written piece of theatre and seeing it develop under the direction of Binnie Christie was the cherry on top.
Even on the day it rains, and the nights are grey I stand here and wait. Every day I stand here and wait. My mother tells me that he is not coming back but I choose to ignore her. I tell myself that she is jealous because he is going to come back for me. When my father left, he looked me in the eyes and said “I’m going to come back.” He squeezed my hand and left. It’s been three months and he is still not back.
The downside of working in an office 40 hours a week with older people who are married and have kids is that, none of them are interested in you or your life. They do however, expect you to take interest in their boring and dull lives about where their kids go to school and the trips that their husbands, whom they haven’t seen in weeks, are taking. Anyway, what are you going to do? ijob ijob. Suck it up, sissy pants! There is however, one man in the office whom I enjoy listening to, Bra Killa. He is our office cleaner. Takes the 5am bus every morning from Barolong location in Thaba Nchu to Bloemfontein CBD, which is a distance of about 45 minutes. From the CBD he walks to Mimosa, where our office is, also approximately a 45 minutes long distance if you’re walking. Bra Killa is a tiny man with strong looking arms and pretty clean hands for a man. He has the kind of clear skin that most girls only manage to have after hiding their flaws with make-up. A beautiful man I tell you. He is unlike the rest of my colleagues, he does not say much and he approaches his work with positivity. Never have I heard a complaint from this man.
It’s the year 2002 at Laerskool Rosenekal in Witbank, Mpumalanga. The sun blazes in the afternoons but the nights are cold. Church on Sunday is a necessity along with the Afrikaans hymns and breakfast to gear you up for the word of the Afrikaaner God, who loves all his children dearly that he brings them a pastor to preach to them on Sundays. Muffins are an occasional luxury that filtered throughout the year into dry bread, coffee and a block of butter which often tore the bread itself leaving you the delightful and ever so loyal crust and mush of jam which had a whole story on its own and for which you try to find space on what is left of the bread or just gulp down your throat while staring at Ledombolo’s table and the bottle of All Gold tomato sauce and the eggs… God the eggs. The boy had tasted them at some point, because he was dubbed the name “Die Prokkereur” or “The Lawyer”.
Last Friday, 05 May 2017, Bridge Books hosted the well received and thoroughly enjoyed third First Fridays. The event menu was made up of stories about going home and music by Song Bird. And for the first time since the inception of the monthly storytelling we took a video. So today we’re not talking text, we’re listening to text by yours truly, Baeletsi Tsatsi. I told stories about Going Home and not looking at home as a physical space but more of an emotional space of comfort, of habit and as a place you can let loose and slip into the essence of who you really are.
She stands there. Alone. Everything has been wiped off. Her grandmother’s house. Even the old tree that has always been there has fallen and clearly it too was wiped off the surface.
When the Sun abandons the earth, the earth forces us to mourn with her. Old skeletons become illuminated by disco lights when they dance and flaunt their presence. To make sure that we understand that they have no intentions of living in closets forever, and the blindfold we put over our eyes, blocking our ears from hearing their hideous calling of our names is futility wrapping its legs around unresolved issues.
Fathers who are water – Busisiwe Mahlangu
The candle burns, brushes away darkness, everything is connected to light.
A family sits around the table and their presence seals the holes of a shack into a moonbeam.
Light settles on their plates and they enjoy a meal.
I know a girl who will never understand what that means
She is what the flames left behind.
Fire comes to die in her cold tongue
In her heart, everything is swallowed by darkness.
Her father’s absence is smoke and her mother is rubbing ash on her chest-
fixing a broken heart.
Her father was water but the wind drank him up.
His absence is ice