New ar­rival is the fam­ily uni­fier, a per­pet­ual bun­dle of joy

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

YOU ARE my heart in hu­man form. You are love per­son­i­fied. You are my world in one. My baby is my yonk­into (ev­ery­thing). Those are some of the most sen­ti­men­tal and heart­felt cap­tions I have come across on so­cial me­dia ac­com­pa­ny­ing pic­tures of ba­bies posted by their moms, dads, un­cles and aunts, es­pe­cially on Face­book.

I will be the first to con­fess that I thought th­ese peo­ple were ex­ag­ger­at­ing.

I felt like they were push­ing their metaphors a bit too far. I judged them too quickly. I hon­estly did not know how they felt.

I just did not un­der­stand that in­deed the tiny lit­tle peo­ple can ac­tu­ally turn our worlds around.

Yes­ter­day, a cute and adorable (be­lieve you me, she is) baby girl turned three months old. Her name is Boipelo Dzivhu­luwani Cha­bal­ala.

Well, when she is old enough to speak, she will call me un­cle.

Week­days seem long but when it is TGIF (Thank God it’s Fri­day), I lit­er­ally race home to see my niece. I watch her sleep ev­ery night in what we now term the “I sur­ren­der pose” – arms stretched sideways and a pouted mouth. I some­times in­sist that she sleeps on my chest for an hour or more be­fore they take her to bed.

She is the epit­ome of love. She is un­speak­able joy in hu­man form. You see, I have joined the group. But wait for it, let me tell you how it all started.

When my sis­ter Te­bogo Cha­bal­ala found out that she was preg­nant last year, she said, “Pap­ina (as she af­fec­tion­ately calls me) I think I am preg­nant. But please don’t tell any­one.” I was sur­prised. I then asked her when she planned to tell our mother the good news.

Her re­ply left me hope­less. She said; “I am scared to tell her and please do not say any­thing to her.” My sis­ter is 31 years old, for heaven’s sake. Why would she be afraid to tell our mother that she is go­ing to be a grand­mother? It turns our she had made up her mind. We are ac­tu­ally good friends so I de­cided to keep the grow­ing se­cret (her tummy was get­ting big­ger) and sooner or later mom was go­ing to spot this.

Then there were crav­ings and smells that re­volted her. I thought those things were a myth. They are very real.

She didn’t tell mom, she had to force it out of her, while all along I was suffering alone and se­cretly feed­ing her crav­ings.

Grapes and man­goes were her thing. This per­son who would have pap for break­fast, lunch and supper all day ev­ery­day wanted noth­ing to do with it. I kid you not.

This was when it dawned on me that all that I have read, seen on TV or heard on the ra­dio about preg­nancy and crav­ings was true. Then, on March 27, my sis­ter gave birth to a baby girl. She and the dad had al­ready de­cided that the baby’s first name would be Boipelo, which loosely trans­lated means Our Pride or Joy.

I was so glad that they did not name her Dikeledi, Matl­ho­mola, Mathata or any of the names that carry curses or bur­dens. You see, in our cul­ture we be­lieve that peo­ple live up to their names.

Oh, and I was asked to give her a sec­ond name. I got very ex­cited.

It was such an honour. But I was told “please don’t give my child a long name”, my sis­ter warned me. I looked for a short name but I didn’t find any.

The Xi Tsonga, Setswana and Pedi names failed me. But there was a Venda name that kept on com­ing back to my mind. I am a sucker for wis­dom and I wouldn’t want any­thing less for my niece. So, I sug­gested the Venda name Dzivhu­luwani, which means “be wise”.

And here is what I learnt from this won­der­ful bless­ing from God: ba­bies can build or de­stroy fam­i­lies or relationships.

Nonethe­less, with the birth of Snun­guna, as we ador­ingly call my niece, our fam­ily is closer than ever, and the joy and love at home is in­ex­pli­ca­ble.

To me, she is unity per­son­i­fied.

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