Miriam had just annoyed me. Yes I knew she had to keep her word to my mother but come on now. I was hurting now so
she had to see things my way. When people die do we still have to honour what we promised them to that extent? Miriam needed to tell me what happened and not stop playing games with my mind. My mother had found it fit to tell her and not us which was something that annoyed me immensely. I really could not help wonder what the secret was. When I got back to the house I found my aunt in the kitchen. The church people had arrived to do a service in the house. The pastor, the one who my mother had wanted to baptize me and show me the path back straight was the one leading the evening service. My aunt came out immediately when she saw me.
“Where is Mbilahelo?”
I asked her. Those were my first words to her and I guess that curiosity was still inside me.
“He left already. He said he could not wait and said to tell you that he is sorry for your loss!”
My aunt told me. I could see she was looking at me funny, that straight into the eye look as though she was looking for something.
“What is it?”
I asked her.
She responded. She had mischievous glint somewhere in there and I think something had happened in her session.
“So did you fix his problem?”
I asked her looking away trying not to sound obvious that I was prying into her business with a client.
“I am not sure yet I just got a sense of there was more to the story you know and am putting two and two together. Sometimes this calling makes us see things which are not there so I want to be sure!”
She said so mysteriously and walked away back into the house. We had to be part of the service and the whole family attended.
The next two days were a hustle with a lot of coming and goings. Even Susanna flew all the way from Cape Town to come offer her condolences. She came with Miriam and no there was no fight. Becky with the good hair was actually nice to me and there was no war. I am not going to go into too much detail about my mother’s funeral; it hurt a lot that’s for sure. She was buried on Saturday morning, you know how Jhb weather is, it rained just to make us suffer more. A lot of people came including some of my old high school friends imagine. People I had not seen in ages. We buried my mother well with dignity and respect.
With the crowd having dispersed the real talk came. My uncle brought up the issue of the dividing of goods in the house and so on. He was drunk obviously and I think somewhere in KZN they had told him he was a king of sorts. Men from KZN really think they own women and that women cannot think for themselves and when they can they think we are as good as children.
“We have to finish this issue tonight because a lot of us leave far so we can’t have this trip again. It’s a man’s issue that’s why everyone has to be here so that no gossip leaves here saying that we were unfair!”
He said further emphasizing why I think rural based men are something else. They are disrespectful and have over inflated egos. I don’t blame them. I blame us the women who allow these men to walk around strutting like peacocks when more often than not they are just losers who can’t even provide for their own families.
“This matter I thought we discussed and we concluded that the lawyers will come divide according to her wishes Bhuti…”
One of my aunts reminded him politely but I could sense her annoyance at the fact that we were back here again. I emphasize the way she asked politely because it was clear she knew her place in the family, somewhere down there. Maybe it’s me I am not sure or maybe it’s this education thing oh wait, maybe it’s the fact that I am in 2017 that makes me think that even within the family, men cannot treat us like this period! I did not speak up though I kept quiet.
“Nonsense, what lawyers? In our culture are there lawyers. We need to follow the traditions of our ancestors that’s what we need to do. I said before that it’s all this whiteness that is killing our families. Imagine my sister and I did not speak for so long because of it!”
My uncle said defending his case. With black people whiteness offends us when it suits us but when it comes to responsibilities we all want to go the white route. Black men use tradition to oppress women but still believe the woman must get a job in that very white economy to take care of the kids. The level of hypocrisy in our patriarchal society is actually quite appalling. My aunt who was now our de facto mother spoke up for us,
“But I thought we agreed with the kids that we must wait for the will. When my sister died it’s not like she did not have children, she did and they are here and old enough to take care of their mothers things!”
She pleaded with her cousin. He did not seem to like it because I could see he steadied himself but went on to say.
“She did not have sons. These are girls and if they get married we will lose our sisters inheritance to other families. We need to honour our traditions to the letter. Already all this in fighting has divided the family and here we get an opportunity to put things right then you say we must listen to children?”
He asked her. I was 28 years old meaning I was hardly a child. I was more educated than him meaning I was smarter than him and could not think as slowly as him even if. Tried but he still had the nerve to call me a child! Imagine! Just because I am a woman. I said nothing though.
“Look at you trying to act mighty? Are you not the same person who shamed me when I took this calling? Sies man Jeremiah stop acting like a god in here!”
My aunt went on the attack. You could hear a pin drop! Zulu men, the ones with titles especially do not want to be called by their first names especially if that name is English. It is like you have pulled down their pants and exposed their privates to the world to shame them.
“Eh sisi calm down!”
One of my other aunts intervened already seeing that this was going to go south very soon and she was right too because my uncle stood up menacingly.
“You dare call me by my name! Who do you think you are? Where is your respect? It’s this witchcraft of yours that brought this family to its knees and now you sit there and act like a Gogo, voetsek man!”
He cursed at her. It’s amazing how nowadays with insults like ‘fuck you’ ‘arsehole’ and all the other crude insults I can think of, ‘voetsek’ has stood the test of time and is still arguably the most disrespectful thing to say to a black South African. It is so resilient even kids say it, dogs run away from and aunts’ like mine, become ninjas out of it. I say this because whoever was holding her back was not holding her tight enough because somehow she slipped from their grip and flew across the room to moer my uncle. She landed quite a few blows too before even he realized what was happening. The other relatives jumped in and pulled them apart.
“You call me a witch wena? Who did you come to when you couldn’t get it up and could not have kids? Was it not me? Did I not help you give your wife kids today you call me a witch?”
Ah ah ah what happened to that doctor patient confidentiality now? She had refused to tell me about her meeting with Mbilahelo yet she was now on that black twitter savage level right now releasing files. If only I had popcorn.
“How dare you…?”
He started to say but everyone let out a collective shocked,
This literally knocked the air out of him.
“I am a good person! I have only ever been good to you. I have never said a bad word to you out of anger or behind your back! Today you stand there and call me a witch! Have you ever seen me harm anyone, even a fly? Tell me Jeremiah?”
Saying his name really felt like a slap to the face. Maybe it’s me I don’t understand but why is it older Zulu men don’t want women calling them by name. How is your own name, the one on your birth certificate, identity document and will be on your death certificate shameful? It’s your very identity. Unless your name is Bhuti Manamela how many of you have names like “Baba’ “Malume” “Bhuti: etc all names reserved for men? If it’s because of respect how is it more often than not the very same men don’t accord you that same level of respect? Figure that out.
“Malume calm down please! You are embarrassing all of us now fighting like this!”
Another of my uncles said trying to calm him down. You would think my aunt had called him by something so disrespectful when all she had done was say his name. Life I tell you.
“She has lost her mind if she thinks I am scared of her! She has lost her mind! I am going to teach her a lesson! I am the man in this family not her and her bones! The women in this family have no respect because they are led by this nondindwa!”
He said throwing that last word in as an insult. “Nondindwa” basically means that you are all over the place, you sleep around, you sleep with every guy like a person who is just everywhere except for home. It’s a very disrespectful thing to say but guess what, not one female in that room said a word.
“Malume, I am sorry now I see why mum did not want you. I for one am not a prostitute. Please Malume leave my house!”
I said clenching my fist so that I would not burst. This arrogant man. How dare he? I don’t care what our relationship was with him but he was rude.
“It’s my sister’s house so you can’t chase me out!”
He said defiantly.
“My sister is right! Leave. You are rude, disrespectful and a cruel person. Get out or I will call the boys around here to come beat you up before you leave!”
My sister said standing up next to me.
“Malume let’s go sleep this off and we can discuss it tomorrow it’s not…”
One of my uncles said to him putting his hand over his shoulder to usher him away.
“Don’t touch me!”
He said angrily swatting his hand off him like it was an irritating child.
“Wena, let’s go, we are driving back home right now! Our things are already in the car anyway!”
He said angrily to his wife rudely!
“But Baba you are too drunk to drive all that way!”
She pleaded with him.
“Either you get in the car and go home with me or you never step into my house again!”
He said. Everyone protested and encouraged her to stay. She looked at us and in resignation ran after her husband.
This was insane!
Michael Nkululeko Maphoto
Thank you Mike for reading my letter. I am even nervous posting this but thank you nonetheless.
I am married to a wonderful man whom I love dearly. A year ago I gave birth to our son. I went off sex and was not in the mood for it but my husband has a healthy appetite. The only way I can get in the mood is by fantasizing about having sex with another man. That man I fantasize about is his brother who is only 21 and I am 32 mind you. I have never kissed or touched his brother sexually. I don’t even like him when we are together but when it comes to sex I find myself fantasizing about him just to be able to get wet enough for his brother. Have I gone crazy! His little brother is annoying and irritates the crap out of me even before I had the baby. I don’t like him at all. My husband keeps praising me saying our sex is even better now after the baby when reality is I am not even thinking about him. When the sex is done I go back to loving my husband which makes no sense to me and I feel so guilty.
Please how do I get my brother in law out of my head? I hate this so much I can’t even ask for advice from my friends for fear it will get out. I need help.