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- From Boys to Men

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Its 17H45 and the setting sun makes everything appear larger than life. Crickets chirping, frogs croaking, dogs barking make the night look older than it really is. Two figures inside the house are exaggerate­d because of the paraffin light. The radio is playing very low. Amplified sounds of feet dragging across the mud floor create an uneasy mood. Pots bang each other more frequently. A basin for washing dirty dishes sits clumsily on top of a table- like structure, at the centre of the room, used as a kitchen and dining area. There is a separate living room and a bedroom. The house is establishe­d on a well hewn foundation. A foundation that is deep enough to save the house from the cracks that decorate the walls of most houses in the area. The west side of the house, however, is taking strain. Nosamkelo and Zandisile had plans of expanding their three rooms into five rooms. A skilled bricklayer by trade, Zandisile is going to do the job himself – that is the plan anyway. However, plans of making Samkelo a man have taken precedence. Zandisile is out for the night. Samkelo has returned from ‘ exile’.

“Pot- scraper please,” Nosamkelo is grouchy. Samkelo suspects it has something to do with his father – specifical­ly the events of the morning. Her large brown eyes are very proficient at using candle light. Those oval eyes define her, who she is. Her eyes reveal her judgments, her experience­s, and her life story. Their startled look gives one the impression that she is suspicious of everything. They are searching but uncertain of the find: searching perhaps for some sanity in all the insanity that is surroundin­g her at this moment. “I have seen lots of strange things in my life,” she would say while making her large eyes look even larger.

Leaving her hearers feeling on edge. Those eyes have shed many tears over the years. Younger tears of joy, older tears of deep sorrow and pain. She used to say to Samkelo “Son, the eyes of a person cannot tell lies. Search the eyes because therein lies the truth.”

“I said pass me the pot- scraper, and you are deciding to ignore me,” she says while grabbing the scraper which is next to her. She stares at him with hostile eyes. “You are defying me and I can see that you want to embarrass me”. Samkelo is puzzled by his mother’s scolding but keeps quiet. He continues to polish his shoes, his only pair: multi- purpose black Bata- toughies with holes underneath. “Hmm,” he frowns, twisting his face, pausing slightly and then continues to labour for a shine.

“No child of mine will remain a boy forever. You are going to embarrass me. A baboon or some other cowardly animal must have suckled you because you did not get that from me. I cannot believe that I have called you my son all these years, carried you in my womb for nine months, laboured with birth pangs for you, and you repay me like this. No, no, I say no! You will not do this to me. Do you hear me?” she places her hands on her head, swaying from side to side. “Please mama, not this again. And I’m not doing anything to you,” he says drawing his upper lip into his face as if he has just smelled something disgusting; he tilts his head, letting his shoulders droop. “I just don’t want this ‘ thing’ done to me. I don’t want it!” he places his shoes on the floor and turns to face his mother. “It’s my life, it’s my body, it’s my decision to make and I decide against it. I would like to grow old with every part of my body still intact, the way God made it,” his eyes glance all over his body.

 ??  ?? Get yourself a copy of "From Boys to Men" contact: info.calabashho­use@gmail.com
Get yourself a copy of "From Boys to Men" contact: info.calabashho­use@gmail.com

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