“Trusting the wrong people is often a big part of how you end up making the wrong decisions. When you pick friends always make sure that its build that you can grow mentally with otherwise you are wasting our time!” Mike Maphoto
Family might be the strongest bond that we have yet it’s also the most fickle. There is no African family that does not have its conflicts. We love each other just as much as we hate each other. We keep grudges even after the main cause has been fixed. We compete and want to prove a point always that our side of the family is better than the next. There are family feuds that last decades to such an extent that the kids of warring parties don’t even know each other because there is no room for introductions and bonding as the fight is just too lit. My mother and aunt had never actually had a physical fight. It was more like “beef” that was not allowed to simmer as long as my aunt remained in her craft. She needed to go to church to be accepted as far as my mother was concerned. Without that she could never be part of us.
I had not seen this woman in a very long time. It was not exactly twenty one years but we occasionally bumped into each other at funeral and the occasional wedding. We rarely had weddings for some reason. Overrated waste of money half the time but that’s the feminist in me speaking.
“Is it ok if I hug you?”
She asked me and that just made this moment awkward. She shouldn’t have asked and should just have done it. Now I was a bit confused as to what next. The way she looked like my mum was quite uncanny. The difference however was that she looked much younger than my mother. Where my mother was a bit chubby my aunt was actually smaller. She was well toned as though she did sports.
“Come in, come in, I am so excited!”
She said with a big smile on her face. It was like I was looking at my mother, well that’s if she smiled more of course.
“Sit down my child!”
She said as I sat. She stared at me when I sat down and after a few moments she said,
“I honestly don’t know what to say? Seeing my sister’s child in my house is … I don’t know!”
She had tears in her eyes when she said this. I could see that her separation to my mother still hurt her. There are some things you never get over and family is one of them. My mom hated my aunt. I am sure if I told her I was here she would probably disown me.
“I don’t know how to address you. I don’t know whether to say Aunty, Mamkhulu or Gogo… Considering…”
I said. I had never been to a Sangoma before so the protocol was well, unknown to me. She laughed.
“No it’s not like that. When you are consulting I am something else but for now I am your aunt, your mother’s prodigal sister!”
She said. I know she was trying to lighten the mood but it was not really working out the way it had been planned. I was just getting tenser.
“I am very curious to know something, when last did you speak to my mom. She does not know I am here and I would appreciate that you don’t tell her!”
I asked her. It felt so awkward that we had ignored for so long yet the moment I needed help I was at her doorstep.
“She actually called yesterday. Unfortunately she was blaming me for what’s going on with you. When I told her I did not she hung up on me. I tried to call her back but she did not pick up. Unfortunately I did not have your numbers so I could not call you to get to the bottom of this!”
She explained. My mum, that sneaky woman. She had not said anything at all.
“She never told me, I did not know!”
I told her. I do not even know what she is saved as in my mother’s phone how deep is that?
“Regardless, can I offer you something to drink?”
She asked me.
“No thank you. I think I am so anxious the drink will never go down!”
She said and she laughed.
“It’s amazing how people make it sound so scary. There is nothing to fear. Your ancestors are always with you even though people want to tell you otherwise. I know church tells you that its evil and unfortunately we value church more than our own beliefs!”
Was she going there, the tradition vs. modernity route?
“Let me ask you a question, do you think under Shaka Zulu for example people were allowed to rape, rob, murder, steal, cheat etc?”
She asked me was that a trick question.
“No I don’t think so. There would have been chaos I am sure! Why?”
“Those are the very same Ten Commandments in the bible and it’s perfectly fine for you but if I said they came from your ancestors suddenly it becomes witchcraft?”
I had never thought of it that way because well, I don’t know why. I was so confused. Maybe coming here was not so bright any idea after all. I was not ready. This was very dumb of me because now that I was here so unprepared I did not know what to ask. I thought I knew it all but I didn’t. In life you can think you are so sure of something when you are not.
“When your mother refused the call it came to me. I was not the one who was supposed to get it. She was the one. She joined every church. It was then left to me. She was also warned that it will pass to her child because of that. This was so many years ago and look at us now, we are here!”
She explained to me.
“What must I do then? I work, I have a life and I don’t think I want this either… Respectfully!”
I said looking around. It’s not easy not to judge a world that does belong to you. This was being thrust upon me and everything we have been taught so far is that this is evil. A black Christian can’t even slaughter a cow to honour the ancestors because it’s called unchristian by other Christians.
“I am not sure you can run away from it. There are always consequences to these things and I don’t know what consequences may come your way but they are there!”
“Do you want me to consult for you?”
She asked me. I thought about it for a moment but wouldn’t that be opening the door for all this.
“No thank you. I am not ready for that yet. It’s not an easy decision. It’s not like I am about this life. Will I even be able to get married?”
I asked her and again she laughed. This woman liked laughing. She was warm and happy.
“You are allowed to have sex with whomever you want. You are allowed to have kids or not have kids if you want. You are allowed to wear your weave, get more degrees and dress up as you like. It’s not a death sentence. When you have to do their work then you dress up and do their work. Don’t you know any celebrities with the calling?”
She asked me. I don’t know if this was meant to make it sound alright or make me feel better. Just because celebrities get callings too doesn’t mean I am welcome with it.
“Yes I do. Mum wants me to go to get baptised will it help?”
I asked her. She stood up and paced a bit then sat down again.
“I think that’s between you and your mom. I am trying to do the right thing here. You cannot run away from this forever. Your mom needs to do a ceremony to cleanse but I know she will never. That’s the only way I can think of for you to get away from this.”
Did she just say mum? With me why does everything always seem to come with conditions and complications? Was this the bad luck that came with this calling business?
“But you know mum will never do this right? I don’t even have to tell you this. She loves her church so much she could even marry the pastor!”
I said in frustration. There was nothing my mother would not do for her church. She was one of those women who insisted on going to cook and clean for the pastor. I now understood her love for church though; it was to make sure that this calling never got to her. She was running from something. Her demands for me to get married where not just motivated by her wanting to be part of my planning committee, it meant something.
“I think you should go home and think about everything we just discussed here.”
She said again the smile back on her face.
“I am too scared to sleep though? I am tired all the time and I fear I am going to go crazy!”
I told her.
“I will give you something to put in your tea when you get home. That will help with the dreams. Don’t forget your ancestors don’t want to harm you, they want to help you, and you in turn help them to help others!”
This woman was saying it like it was like they were teaching me a life skill.
“Thank you I really need that!”
As she stood up my phone rang. It was my boss, Mr. Gold. I didn’t even realize I had his private cell.
“Good evening sir!”
I said to him as it was now early evening.
“Good evening. I am not going to make drinks tonight; my wife has a bit of flu. Give Mr. Tizora my apologies for me!”
“Drinks, what drinks?”
I asked him stupidly. I had declined that request earlier and I was so tired, I wanted to sleep.
“He arranged drinks with us as an informal thing. I think Mr. Graaf is sending Nicolene so it’s something you unfortunately have to attend.”
He told me! I wanted curse out loud and scream,
“What the fuck!”
But I could not. If these people were trying to break me they were achieving it bit by bit.
“Why he would he send her?”
I asked him a question whose answer I knew.
“It doesn’t matter, just get it done!”
He said and hung up. My aunt walked in with a little plastic and said,
“This is it. I suggest as soon as you get home you take it. It’s not a sleeping drug but I prefer you to sleep for a long time after you take it! Tomorrow you will feel fully refreshed.”
I heard her but now with this drinks thing, I was not too sure what to do. If I went, I am certain I will collapse tomorrow, if I did not, the bosses will find an excuse.
What to do now?
Michael Nkululeko Maphoto (fb)
Dear mike and the readers
Firstly I would like to say thank you for your stories, they open our mind to daily incidents and teach us lessons. Also for the Platform sometimes telling a stranger your problems do help as in many cases you get a neutral advice.
Mike and the readers please help me out, I am a male aged 20 dating a lady who is the same age as me and she has a son whom I love dearly ,we decided to get tested for HIV before we Start having and somehow she was found to be positive and I am negative, she started to distance herself from me, and due to the new System with the health department she was asked to come back so she can have her Cd4 count taken and to do a TB Screening or test, but somehow she does not want to go back as she says she will not take the ARV’s, I have tried multiple times to talk to her but am not getting through to her and now I have written to you to ask for advice in this dilemma as I no longer know what to do, also she is a ZCC member so I am Not Sure if it is the reason she is doing as she does.
Thank you and sorry for the long essay.