Boo – Decolonize Gender | Climbing | Kusinda Kuyehlela! By Nick Hadikwa Mwaluko

An unlikely encounter on top of a hill is dominated by contrast and loss, unravelling a layered entanglement with pain. Change, we learn, can be as basic as a change of perspective.

by GRIOT - Published on 31/03/2022
Climbing,Illustrations by @sylviakdoodles

Loss is life’s only language. Moving from mask to face to soul, the journey we share.

Anyway, got this job online after going broke for a week and not eating for something like four days straight. I hate fishing for food from the garbage waiting on my next pay stub so I took any job I could even though, at the time, I felt a little weak.

“Your ad says you’re looking for somebody?”

“Found someone already, sorry,” he sounded young, I’d say no more than twenty-seven, maybe twenty-five years tops but you can’t know for sure without a face-to-face.

“You sure bro? ‘Cause I can do just anything.”

He said he’d call back if something came up. Fat fucken chance, I thought, so I closed the five gay interracial porn tabs on my laptop, including my favorite gloryhole blowjob series because I had to focus my online search for another job. Suddenly my phone rang: “How soon can you get to my place? Berkeley Hills.”

I lied, told him an hour knowing if I got there sooner it would make a good impression and maybe he’d offer me extra or at least make a referral, you never know with people, especially Berkeley types. Plus, that morning I woke up early, rode my bike downtown for dumpster diving and found some fairly decent hand-me-down designer clothes off the streets so I knew my luck wasn’t bad and with this new job it was getting better as the day went on. Soon as I got downtown, I texted him. He called me right back, asked me to catch a bus to his place so I lied again, told him the next one wouldn’t show for another hour, knowing he wouldn’t check his phone for the schedule because I could tell he was under a lot of pressure and, in all honesty, buses rarely run regularly in places like Berkeley Hills where the one percent own something like two, three luxury cars so they don’t use public transportation as much as everyone else.

“I’ll pick you up in about,” he paused, “…eight minutes maybe? Black BMW going down Shattuck Avenue. Wave when you see me.”

I got into the backseat because he said the front wasn’t working right, something to do with the little thingy that rotates so the seat couldn’t move into place easy or stick once it got in place. Anyway, once I made myself pretty comfortable inside I took a good, hard look at him. No more than twenty-two, not tall, slightly chubby but not fat. His face was wide. In my language we call it “panua” which speaks to its breadth, its expansiveness might be closest in translation. But it also implies a certain amount of generosity that comes with a full face, nothing stingy or pinched the way westerners think of beauty. Don’t get me wrong, his features were bird-like, small and sharp but not tight, making the shape of his face all the more generous. I tried my best to imagine him as an African—he was from India, I think—but failed again and again to box him into a tribe so I settled on the very unlikely mix of Luo and Kikuyu mostly for my own amusement. Just when I was assigning roles, wondering who would be from the Luo tribe, his mother or father, he said something.

But—and there is no other way to put this without sounding gay by which I mean freeing my feminine and hopefully freeing yours too—his voice was gorgeous. Beauty. It wasn’t male or female or androgynous or trans or genderless. It didn’t have anything, no want, no demand. It wasn’t tied to an accent, dancing around a culture. It was his voice—free and freeing, as if it carried something so promisingly precious that couldn’t be touched.

The usual questions came up to make sure he hadn’t hired an online Internet serial killer, the kind who shows up, cleans his house, slits his throat clear across with a filthy kitchen knife then takes advantage of suburbia’s stillness taking an hour-long nap on the comfy sofa seat next to his bloody corpse. One hour later the serial killer wakes up to the sound of chirping birds, is starved so the serial killer guts the refrigerator for food, mostly red meats topped with huge, red (blood-like) globs of ketchup, chewing like a madman right next to the corpse, totally unphased. Meanwhile the neighbors call 9-1-1 to report blood dripping from their ceiling or a strange death-like smell coming from next door, or something eerily similar.

“Where do you work?” (I lied.) “What do you do at work?” (Lied.) “Where do you come from?” (Truth mixed with some lies to make myself more exotic. The West Coast adores interracial so I mix it up whenever I can for bonus points.) “Do you like California?” (Lied.) “Have you been to Berkeley Hills?” (Lied.) Then he asked me what I want to be and I told him the truth but I don’t know why I told him. Maybe it was his voice, its seductive dream-power-quality, maybe that’s what made me tell the whole truth. Or maybe I was tired of lying. Or maybe it’s because no matter how much I lied everything felt okay, like I wasn’t being judged for who I am or anything like that. Or maybe I wanted my dream to match his voice but I don’t know for sure what made me tell him the truth.

“I’d like to be a writer. I’ve written three books. But nobody reads them,” I laughed, Hahahaha, he didn’t. He looked straight ahead at the road; so did I.

“Did you do any schooling for it?” he asked.

By now we’d driven past the flatter parts of downtown Berkeley’s city center into steep inclines. Big suburban houses sat on hills surrounded by flora colored red, purple. Stranger still was the way the road snaked towards nowhere.

I thought about my mother who just died. I thought about how she died. I thought about how she lived. I thought about how someone can live like they’re dead. I thought people who never ever die, legends. I thought about my grief and not eating and sleeping for days.

I thought about the amount of energy, the mental fortitude it took every fucken day to open my Goddamn eyes. I thought about feeling weak and dizzy and how I’d have to get ready, buck up to psyche myself for the job about to start in a few minutes and how I couldn’t let myself give in no matter what I was feeling. I thought about how Africans are not allowed to feel depressed because when you’re in America, you must be better off, and if you’re not successful there’s only one reason: you’re a certified loser, obviously, right? I thought about not having enough money for a plane ticket to fly across the country to care for my mother in her last days. How I begged and borrowed and went online to beg strangers, “friends” on Twitter, Facebook, begging anyone, everyone. Doing the same stupid thing, begging and borrowing money to pay off her funeral just to meet her last wish.

I thought about being humiliated. I thought about teaching myself to stay humiliated because somehow I conflated humility with humiliation. I thought about my clothes, how I pick them off the street then put them on, sometimes not allowing myself to stop short of picking rotten food from the garbage: me, an educated African in a BMW in one of the richest parts of the richest country on this planet. Then I thought about the choices I can’t unmake: my gender, my sexuality. And choices I did not make: my race.
Then I thought about the strange beauty in integrity; the painful riches that come with not compromising to live life whole when you’re Black and transgendered and poor and suffering because your pain has no sacred place in a “democratic” dumping ground like America. Then I thought about my entire life up to that point: how one thing, one unexpected thing can change your whole world forever and how there might never ever be a way back and might not be a way out or ahead no matter how hard you try. Doesn’t matter if that one thing is expected or comes as a surprise because nothing prepares you for a life where any and everything you do has consequences but never any impact. I thought about being confused, lost, alone, tired, terrified and really ashamed. Of my nothingness and my emptiness because I carry a heavy void. But mostly I thought about my mother: what would she make of my life? Then I replied.

“I’m cleaning houses and doing all sorts of odd jobs because they don’t tell you in school that a degree in writing won’t make you any money. In fact, they don’t tell you most people, including your parents and even yourself, will think you’re a loser. It’s true.
I get up in the morning, I look in the mirror, stare, but I don’t see myself. Then I wonder, Where did I go? Will I ever come back? How does someone come back?
I’m serious, how? I took a deep breath. “I went to the same ivy league school for undergraduate and graduate studies. Now I’m a maid. Before you or anyone says so, I’ll say it first: I’m a loser. Disgrace to my family, community, tribe, I know it. But my search,” I paused, “is for stories that come from some place deep. Some place only life can touch. Many times, so many times when you read stories from famous writers who are rich, their stories have no life in them. Because,“ I paused, “they’re terrified to look at life. With good reason, life’s scary. But I’d rather live like this, searching for real life by confronting my fear, then committing what I find to paper. See? ”

He stopped his black BMW. We were on an incline driving towards the summit of a steep hill when he stopped his car smack in the middle of the road. He said this with his back turned so I couldn’t see his face. But I could hear his voice: cold, distant.

“You can’t clean my house.”

I understood. I’d been in California long enough to know how things worked. This place was free when it came to some people but not others. Not Black people, especially not poor Black people going to Berkeley Hills where they get ticked off for jack little. I’d talked too much. Made myself too much of a presence. Gone into dangerous, personal territory too quick, deep, too intimate for it to work at a professional level where I was meant to play his subordinate, him my master. I bet he thought once we get to his place I’d steal from him, maybe tie him up then destroy his valuable possessions out of jealousy or something just as nuts. I tried my best to breathe evenly, thinking with my luck there’s definitely be a better job online when I get back to my dump.

He turned to face me. He was crying. “You can’t clean my house. No…I’m sorry.”
His beautiful, pure voice shaking with emotion. Uneven, almost trembling on the verge of sobbing. “In these few minutes, you’ve changed my life. You’ve made me see the world differently. I have so much respect for what you’re doing. I cannot let you clean my house. No, you cannot clean my house.” He went on crying, and I let him. I didn’t say a word, not one. I just sat there, stunned. For a long time, nobody said anything.  We just sat stuck—moving from mask to face to soul.

When I finally did gather my thoughts, all I could think about was my mother, her looking from wherever she was. Seeing that car stuck on a slope in the middle of the road up a hill amid the suburban peace but for him crying, me sitting speechless. We were nowhere. We were everywhere. Within reality. Inside eternity. Embracing mystery. Inching towards infinity. Moving fast towards endless endlessness.

Mom, are you really dead? Unreachable forever? Do you know how hard I’ve tried to die for you? Not eating, not sleeping, making myself absolutely nothing. Because I miss you. Because I don’t know if I can go on, not without you. I closed my eyes, never wanting them to open again, pushing each thought towards places we humans are not allowed to go.

To fly. To reach beyond impossible. To touch the throne of miracles, whenever they are born. Taking step after careful step. Entering that sacred space where nothing breathes yet everything is alive. To hold the sun. To be the light. To kiss infinity with my eyes is where I meet her.

I lowered my head, slowly.

Dear Grief,

You have a special home for queer poor Black, trans folk. Take me there. And when deep within, teach me how to love fiercely while letting go. Show me the moment when loss meets acceptance. So I can transition. So I can spread my wings to finally fly. Amen.

That’s when I got to thinking maybe my mother, she who in life hated my choices, maybe she could truly see me. And if she could truly see me, maybe she was with me. All of me. Right there.

I have played son. Performed queer. Lived with loss. Housed pain. The collective trauma, stigma, oppression pieced expertly through the delicate thread of sacred love shared.

“Sometimes in life you have to bend. Sometimes you have to break. Sometimes you have to do both, bend and break. And it’s still not enough,” I told my sobbing friend. “That’s when you have to die. That’s where life finds me. And where I find life. Piecing together what is shattered is a great place to be. So do not cry, not for me.”

Then I opened my eyes, right at that moment.  Because everyone’s eyes were open too.

© Nick Hadikwa Mwaluko, 2017

‘Climbing’, by Nick Mwaluko, is the second story in the ‘BOO_decolonize gender’ series, a collection of stories by African authors that challenge the Western gender binary from a decolonial perspective. ‘Boo. Decolonize gender’ is conceived by South Africa-based Italian translator and social anthropologist Agnese Roda and California-based Tanzanian author Nick Hadikwa Mwaluko.

Every three months GRIOT features a story from the series translated in three different languages.

Kusinda Kuyehlela!

Lilonke, ngingakusho kugcwale umlomo ukuthi ukulahlekelwa ulimi olujwayelekile empilweni. Ukuhamba usuka kukuzifihla, uye ebusweni, bese kuya kumphefumulo, uhambo esiwabelana ngalo kulempilo.

Ngithole omunye umsebenzi ku-intanethi ngemumva kokungabi namali isonto lonke futhi ngingenakho okuya ngasethunjini izinsuku ezine zonke. Ngiyakuzonda ukufuna ukudla emgqonyeni ngibe ngisalindele umholo olandelayo. Ngakhoke, besengivele ngithathe noma yimuphi umsebenzi oqhamukayo, nokuba ngaleso sikhathi ngangizizwa ngibuthakathaka.

“isikhangiso sakho sithi ufuna umuntu?”

“Sengimtholile, ngiyaxolisa,” wayezwakala sengathi usemusha, ngingathi nje wayengekho ngaphezu kweminyaka engamashumi amabili nesikhombisa, mhlawumbe wayeneminyaka engamashumi amabili nanhlanu kuya phezulu. Kodwa angeke wazi ngokuqinisekile ungahlangananga naye ubuso nobuso.

“Uqinisekile bafo? Phela ngingenza noma yini.”

Wathi uzongithinta uma kukhona okuvelayo. Ngacabanga ukuthi kungaba ithuba elikhulu, ngase ngivala amakhasi ezithombe ezingcolile ongqingili abanobuhlanga okungafani ku-laptop yami. Kunjalo ngavala uchungechunge lokuncelwa kwezitho zangasese engilithandayo ngoba ngizogxila ekubhekeni ​​komunye umsebenzi kwi-intanethi. Kwathi kusenjalo kwakhala ucingo: “kungakuthatha isikhathi esingakanani ukuthi ufike la engihlala khona, e-Berkeley Hills?” Ngaqamba amanga, ngamtshela ukuthi kuzothatha isikhathi esingangehora, ngazi kahle ukuthi uma ngisheshe ngifika kuzomenza achazeke, mhlawumbe anginikeze okungenani imadlana engaphezulu noma okungenani angidlulisele komunye, phela angeke ubazi abantu, ikakhulukaze laba abaseBerkeley. Kwazise phela, ngalolosuku ngangivuke ngovivi, ngagibela ibhayisekili lami ngaya edolobheni ngase ngithola izingubo zanokusho. Okusho nganginenhlanhla futhi ngalo msebenzi omusha yayibangcono kakhulu ngokuqhubeka kosuku. Ngathi uma ngifika edolobheni ngamthumelela umyalezo.

Wangishayela ucingo ngokushesha, wangicela ukuthi ngithathe ibhasi elibheke lapho ehlala khona.  Ngaqamba amanga futhi, ngamtshela ukuthi ibhasi elilandelayo lingahle lifike emumvakwe hora, ngazi kahle ukuthi angeke alubheke uhla lwezikhathi zamabhazi kumakhalekhukhwini wakhe, ngoba waye zwakala sengathi ungaphansi kwengcindezi.  Eqinisweni lilonke, amabhasi ayengavamile ukuhambela ezindaweni ezifana no Berkeley Hills ngesikhathi ekumele ahambe ngaso, lapho iphesenti elilodwa labantu linezimoto ezimbili noma ezintatu zikanokusho, ngaleyondlela babe ngazisebenzisi izithuthi zomphakathi njengabobonke abantu. “Ngizokulanda esikhathini esicishe sibe,” wama okwesikhashana, … “mhlawumbe emizuzwini eyisishiyagalombili? Uma ubona imoto ewuhlobo lwe  BMW yehla ngo-Shattuck Avenue, uphakamise isandla.”

Ngangena esihlalweni sangasemumva ngoba wathi esangaphambili asisebenzi kahle. Lokhu kwakuhlangene nento encanyana ekumele ijikeleze ukuze isihlalo singanyakazi kalula uma ususibeke la usifuna sibe khona. Emva kokuba ngizenze nganethezeka esihlalweni sangemumva, ngase ngithatha isikhathi ngamubhekisisa kahle.  Wayengekho ngaphezu kweminyaka engamashumi amabili nambili, wayengamude, ekhuluphele, kodwa engesona isidudla. Ubuso bakhe babubanzi. Ngolimi lwakithi sithi bu ‘panua’ okubhekise kububanzi bakho, ukukhula kwakho kungase kusondele kakhulu ekuhumusheni. Kodwa futhi kusho ukuthi inani elithile lomusa eliza nobuso obugcwele. Kwakungena lutho okuhlabayo noma okugxilile ngendlela abasentshonalanga becabanga ngayo ubuhle.

Ungangizwa kabi, izici zakhe zazifana nezenyoni, zizincane futhi zibukhali Kodwa zngaqinile, okwakwenza ukuthi ubuso bakhe kumenze abukeke enomusa. Ngazama ngakho konke okusemandleni ami ukuba ngimcabange njengomuntu wase-Afrika – wayevela eNdiya, uma ngicabanga – ngahluleka kaningi ukumunika ubuzwe ngagcina sengithi mhlawumbe uyingxube ye Luo ne Kikuyu, ngenzela nje ukuzijabulisa. Ngesikhathi nje ngimisa ukunika izindima, ngisazibuza ukuthi ubani owase Luo, umama noma ubaba wakhe, wavele washo okuthize.

Kodwa – ayikho enye indlela yokusho lokhu ngaphandle kokuzwakala ngiwungqingili, ngalokho ngiqonde ukukhulula ubufazane kwami ngethemba lokuthi nokwakho kuzokhululeka – izwi lakhe lalilihle kakhulu. Ubuhle. Lalingelona elomuntu wesilisa noma owesifazane noma lomuntu ongenabo ubulili. Lalingenalutho, lingafuni lutho. Lalingahambisani nendlela yokukhuluma noma nosiko thizeni. Kwakuyizwi lakhe – lalikhululekile futhi likhulula, engazuthi laliqukethe isethembiso esiyigugu esingenakuthintwa.

Kwase kulandela imibuzo evamile, ukuqinisekisa ukuthi akazange aqashe umbulali oqavile we-intanethi, lowo ovele afike, ahlanze indlu yakhe, amunqamule uqhoqhoqho ngombese ongcolile wasekhishini bese asebenzise ubuchule bakhe ukuze amhlule. Athathe ihora elilodwa acambalale esihlalweni esihle sika sofa eduze kwesidumbu sakhe esigcwele igazi. Emva kwehora umbulali avuswe umusindo wezinyoni eziculayo, alambe bese enikela esiqandisini eyofuna ukudla, imvamisa inyama ebomvu ethakwe ngososi obovu wena owabona igazi, ehlafunisa okohlanya eduze kwesidumbu, engaxwayi nokwexwaya. Ngalesosikhathi, omakhelwane bafonela abomthethetho ukubabikela ngegazi eliconsa ophahleni lendlu yabo noma ukunuka okungajwayelekile okuqhamuka kamakhelwane, noma into efana naleyo.

“Usebenza kuphi?” (Ngaqamba amanga.) “Wenzani emsebenzini?” (Ngaqamba amanga.) “Uvelaphi?” (Iqiniso elixubene namanye amanga ukuze ngenze okungaphezu kokuvamile lapho ngikwazi khona amaphuzu angeziwe.) “Uyithanda iCalifornia?” (Ngaqamba amanga.) “Usuke waya eBerkeley Hills?” (ngaqamba amanga). Wabe esebuza ukuthi ngifuna ukuba yini, ngamutshela Iqiniso kodwa angazi kungani ngamutshela. Mhlawumbe kwakuyizwi lakhe, laliyenga engathi elasemaphusheni. Mhlawumbe yilo elangenza ngamutshela iqiniso. Noma mhlawumbe ngasengikhathele ukuqamba amanga. Noma mhlawumbe kungenxa yokuthi noma sengiqambe amanga kangakanani yonke into yayizwakala  iyinhle, sengathi angihlulelwa ngendlela engiyiyona noma into efana naleyo. Noma mhlawumbe ngangifuna iphupho lami lifane nezwi lakhe.  Kodwa angazi ukuthi yini eyenza ngimtshele iqiniso.

“Ngingathanda ukuba umbhali. Sengibhale izincwadi ezintathu. Kodwa akekho Umuntu oseke wazifuda” ngahleka, akazange ahleke. Wabheka phambili emgwaqweni; nami ngenza kanjalo.

“Usuke wakufundela?” Wabuza. Ngaleso sikhathi sesishayele sadlula endaweni eyithafa enkabeni yedolobha i-Berkeley sadlulela kulezi ezingamagquma.  Izindlu ezinkulu zase madolobheni zizungezwe izimbali ezimibala eminingi, singabala nezibomvu. Okwakuxwayekayo indlela imigwaqo eyayizungeza ngayo kuhle kwenyoka ibheke ezindaweni ezingaziwa. Ngacabanga ngo mama wami osanda kufa. Ngacabanga ukuthi wafa kanjani. Ngacabanga indlela ayephila ngayo.  Ngacabanga indlela ekwenzeka ngayo ukuthi umuntu aphile sengathi ufile.

Ngacabanga abantu abangakaze bafe, izingqwele. Ngacabanga ngosizi lwami, ngingadli, ngingalali izinsuku. Ngacabanga ngenani lamandla, nesikhathi nomdlandla owangithatha ukuthi ngivule amehlo njalo ekuseni. Ngacabanga ngokuzizwa ngibuthakathaka ngiphelelwa amandla, ngizibophezele ngokwengqondo ngilungiselele nokuqala emsebenzini emizuzwini embalwa nokuthi angikwazi ukuvumela ukuthi nginikeze kungakhathaliseki ukuthi ngizizwa kanjani. Ngacabanga ngokuthi abantu base-Afrika abavunyelwe ukuzizwa becindezelekile ngoba uma useMelika, kufanele babe ngcono, futhi uma ungaphumeleli kunesizathu esisodwa kuphela: kusobala ungumuntu olahlekile, akunjalo?

Ngacabanga ngokungabi nemali eyanele youkuthenga ithikithi lebhanoyi ukuze ngindize ngiyonakekela umama wami ngezinsuku zakhe zokugcina emhlabeni.

Ukuthi ngangicela kanjani ngiphinde ngiboleke, ngingena ku-intanethi ukucela abantu engingabazi, ‘abangane’ ku-Twitter, naku Facebook, ngicela noma wubani, wonke Umuntu. Ngenza into efanayo, ewubuwula, ngicela ngiphinde ngiboleke imali ukuze ngikhokhele ungcwabo wakhe ukuze ngifeze isifiso sakhe sokugcina.

Ngacabanga ngokuhlazeka. Ngacabanga ngokuzifundisa ukuba ngihlale nginamahloni ngoba ngandlela thize ngangithola ubuntu ekuhlazekeni kwami.

Ngacabanga ngezingubo zami, ukuthi ngangizicosha kanjani emgwaqweni ngizigqoke, ngezinye izikhathi ngingavumeli ukuyeka ukudla okubolile emgqonyeni: mina, isifundiswa sase Afrika kwi-BMW engxenyeni yezindawo ezicebile kakhulu kulomhlaba. Ngabe sengicabanga ngezinqumo engingasakwazi ukuzibuyekeza: ubulili bami; nezinqumo engingazenzanga:  ubuhlanga bami.

Ngabe sengicabanga ngobuhle obungavamile obuqukethwe ebuqothweni; ingcebo ebuhlungu efika ngokungathinteki ukuze uphile impilo yonke uma uMnyama, futhi uyisiphambeko, futhi uhluphekile, futhi uhlwempu ngenxa yokuthi ubuhlungu bakho abunayo indawo engcwele ‘kwintando yeningi’ yaseMelika. Ngabe sengicabanga ngempilo yami kuze kufike kuloyomzuzu ngisemotweni nalomlisa mumbe: ukuthi into eyodwa, into engalindelekile, ingashintsha yonke impilo yakho ingunaphakade, nokuthi kungenzeka ingalokothi ibeyindlela ebiyiyo noma ingayiphambili noma ungazama kanzima kangakanani. Akunandaba ukuthi leyonto eyodwa ilindelekile noma ayilindelekile, ngoba ayikho into ekulungisela impilo lapho yonke. Into oyenzayo neyenzekayo inemiphumela kodwa ingabi nje nomthelela. Ngacabanga ngokudideka, ukulahleka, ukuba ngedwa, ukukhathala, ukwethuka, nokuba namahloni;  nokungabi utho nokungabi nalutho kwami  ngoba ngithwele isikhala esikhulu.  Kodwa, ikakhulukazi ngacabanga ngomama wami: yini angayicabanga ngempilo yami? Ngabe sengiphendula.

“Ngihlanza izindlu futhi ngenza zonke izinhlobo zemisebenzi engaqondakali ngoba abakutsheli  esikoleni ukuthi iziqu zokubhala ngeke zikwenzele imali.  Eqinisweni, abakutsheli, abantu abaningi, ngisho nabazali bakho, nawe imbala, bazocabanga ukuthi uyisehluleki. Iqiniso. Ngivuka ekuseni, ngibheke esibukweni, kodwa angiziboni. Bese ngiyazibuza, Ngishonephi? Ngoke ngiphinde ngibuye?  Umuntu ubuya kanjani?” Ngiqinisile, kanjani? Ngaphefumula ngokujulile. “Ngaya esikoleni sokufunda esifanayo njengabanye abantu, ngenza izifundo zazenyuvesi ngathola neziqu zami njengabanye. Ngaphinda ngasengiqhubeka ngenza izifundo zokwengeza. Manje ngingumsizi wasekhaya, phecelezi i maid, ngolwamaNgisi. Ngaphambi kokuthi wena noma omunye umuntu asho, ngizosho kuqala: ngiyisahluleki. Isiphoxi emndenini wami, emphakathini nasezweni sakithi, ngiyazi. Kodwa ukuphenya kwami”, ngama okwesikhashana, “okwezindaba ezivela endaweni ethize ejulile; indawo ethintwa impilo kuphela. Izikhathi eziningi, kahle kahle ezikhathini eziningi uma ufunda izindaba ezibhalwe ababhali abadumile abacebile, izindaba zabo azibuqukethe ukunzulu. Ngoba, ngime okwesikhashana, “bayasaba kakhulu ukubuka impilo. Kwazise phela, impilo le esiyiphilayo iyesabeka. Kodwa ngingamane ngiphile kanjena. Ngifuna impilo yangempela ngokubhekana nokwesaba kwami, bese ngenza lokho engikuthola ekubhaleni. Uyabona?”

Wamisa i-BMW yakhe emnyama. Sasesisegqumeni elibheke entabeni lapho emisa kabi imoto yakhe phakathi nomgwaqo. Wabe esekhuluma efulathele khona ngingeke ngibubone ubuso bakhe. Kodwa ngangilizwa ilizwi lakhe: libanda, liqhelile.

“Awukwazi ukuhlanza eyami indlu.” Ngaqonda. Sengihlale e-California isikhathi eside ngokwanele ukwazi ukuthi izinto zisebenza kanjani.  Le ndawo yayikhululekile kwabanye abantu kodwa hhayi kwabanye. Hhayi kubantu abanyama, ikakhulu kazi abantu abanyama abahlwempu beya e-Berkeley Hills lapho abaxoshelwa khona izinto ezincane. Ngangikhuluma kakhulu. Ngazenza ngabakhona kakhulu.  Ngangena engozini, endaweni yomuntu ngokushesha kakhulu, ngasondela kakhulu ukuthi isebenze esigabeni sobucwepheshe lapho  kumele mina ngibengaphansi kwakhe, yena abenguphathi wami. Ngicabanga ukuthi wayezitshela ukuthi uma sifika emzini wakhe ngizofike ngimntshontshele, mhlawumbe ngimubophe ngithathe zinto zakhe eziyigugu ngenxa yomona noma into engasile ngaleyondlela. Ngazama konke okusemandleni ami ukuphefumula ngendlela elungile, ngicabanga ukuthi ngenhlanhla yami kuzoba kunomsebenzi ongcono kakhulu ku-intanethi uma ngibuyela emuva endlini yami.

Waphenduka wangibheka, ekhala. “Awukwazi ukuhlanza indlu yami. Cha… Ngiyaxolisa.” Izwi lakhe lalilihle, limnandi, lihhedlezela, liqukethe imizwa.
Lalingalingani, cishe lalinokuthuthumela emgodini obika ukukhala nokugedla kwamazinyo. “Kulemizuzu embalwa, ushintshe impilo yami. Ungenze ngabona impilo ngendlela ehlukile. Ngiyihlonipha kakhulu lento oyenzayo. Angikwazi ukukuvumela ukuba uhlanze indlu yami. Cha, awukwazi ukuhlanza indlu yami.” Waqhubeka ekhihla esikaNandi, nami ngamvumela.  Angizange ngisho lutho. Ngahlala khona lapho emotweni, ngimangele. Kwaphela isikhathi eside kungekho okhulumayo. Sahlala nje singakhulumi kuhle kwenkukhu inqunywe umlomo – sisuka kulokho okubonakalayo siye kulokho okungabonakali, okufihliwe. Kuthe ekugcineni, sengihlanganise imicabanyo yami, into eyodwa eyangifikela emicabangweni kwakungumama wami, engibheka lapho ekhona.  Ngibona imoto ime egqumeni phakathi komgwaqo enkabenti yendawo yasedolobheni,  yena ekhala, mina ngihlezi ngiphelelwe mazwi. Sasigcwele yonke ndawo. Sesibukhoneni. Singaphakathi kwengunaphakade. Samukela imfihlakalo.  Siphokopholela kokungapheli.  Sihamba ngokushelela siphokophele phambili siqonde ekupheleleni okungapheli.

Mama, ingabe ufile ngempela?  Awufunyelekeki kuze kube phakade? Uyazi ukuthi sengizame kanzima kanjani ukukufela?  Ngingadli, ngingalali, ngizenza ukuthi ngibe yizeleze, ngingabi yilutho. Ngoba ngiyakhumbula. Ngoba angazi ukuthi ngizoqhubeka yini, hhayi ngaphandle kwakho. Ngavala amehlo ngingafuni ukuphinde ngiwavule futhi, ngadudulela imicabango ezindaweni thina bantu esingavunyelwe ukuya kuzo.

Ukundiza. Ukufinyelela kokungenakukwenzeka. Ukuthinta isihlalo sobukhosi bezimangaliso, noma inini lapho zizalwa khona. Ngithatha isinyathelo ngemuva kwesinyathelo ngokucophelela. Ukungena endaweni yemfihlakalo lapho kungekho lutho oluphefumulayo kepha yonke into iyaphila. Ukuze ngibambe ilanga. Ukuze ngibe ukukhanya. Ukuze ngiqabule ngamehlo ami okungapheli lapho ngihlangana nakho.

Ngagobisa ikhanda lami, kancane kancane kuhle konwabu.

Sawubona Lusizi,

Unendawo ebalulekile kubantu abawungqingili abamnyama abahluphekayo.  Ngiyisekhona. Futhi uma sengisekujuleni, ngifundise ukuthanda ngokukhululekile ngibe ngidlulisa. Ngibonise umzuzu lapho ukulahlekelwa kuhlangana nokwamukela. Ukuze ngikwazi ukuguquka. Ukuze ngigcine ngindizile kuhle kwezinyoni zona ezizindela phezulu emafini. Ameni.

Ileso sikhathi engaqala ngaso ukucabanga mhalawumbe umama wami, yena ekuphileni kwakhe wayezonda izinqumo zami, mhlawumbe wayengangibona ngempela, ebona lokhu engiyikho. Futhi uma wayengibona ngempela, mhlawumbe wayenami. Mina wonke, ekhona.

Ngizenzile indodana. Ngabudlala ubungqingili. Ngaphila nokulahlekelwa. Ngagcina kimi ubuhlungu obuhlanganiwe ngobuchwepheshe ngentambo ebucayi yothando olungcwele.

“Ngezinye izikhathi empilweni kufanele ugobe. Ngezinye izikhathi kufanele wephuke. Ngezinye izikhathi kufanele wenze kokubili, ugobe uphinde uphuke. Kuphinde kunganeli,” ngamutshela, umngane wami okhalayo. “Yilapho kufanele ufe khona. Yilapho ukuphila kungithola khona. Futhi lapho ngithola khona ukuphila. Ungakhali, ungangkhaleli mina.”

Khona-ke ngalesosikhathi ngabe sengivula amehlo ami, ngoba amehlo awowonke umuntu ayevulekile nawo.

© Nick Hadikwa Mwaluko, 2017

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