I was born in Ga-Molepo. It is a big village in Polokwane, Limpopo. They say that when Polokwane is not choking under a drought, Ga-Molepo lies in a very fertile low land known for its good soil. Sometimes I used to say maybe that is why when I don’t finish eating my food, Madipelane says, “Hela, you are a human being, you don’t know what life is about.
You don’t know what problems there are in this life.”

As far as I could see, there was only one problem, and it had nothing to do with what Raesibe considered as “problems” or what Raesibe thinks of as “problems”. Raesibe is my mother. Madipelane is my grandmother.

They say I am eight years old and my problem is that at this age, there are things I think of, but I don’t have the proper language to express my thoughts. For me, that is a very serious problem. It’s always difficult to decide whether or not to express my thoughts or to just keep quiet.

Not that it is easy to get any grown-ups to listen to you even when you decide to take the risk and say something serious to them. Take Madipelane, for example, first I have to struggle to get her attention then when I do tell her she would stare at me for a very long time, then bending and turning her head slightly, so that one of her ears comes down towards me, she will say, “Hela, you say what?”

After I have repeated whatever it was I had said, she would either tell me to “never, never, but never repeat that” or she would immediately burst out laughing. She would laugh hysterically until tears flowed down her cheeks. She would stop whatever she was doing and wipe away the tears with the hanging edges of her cloth. Then, she would continue laughing
until she was completely tired. Then, of course, there are four or eight more of such laughing and screaming grown-ups.

All of that performance just over something I said? This is quite confusing. No one ever explained to me why I should not repeat some of the things I said, while other times, some of the things I said would not only be alright, but would be considered so funny, they would be repeated so many times for so many people’s enjoyment. Do you see now why I prefer to not express my thoughts too often?


Tell us: Have you ever been too afraid to express yourself for fear of being ridiculed?