My ‘Something Special’ is a Xhosa manuscript that my dearest mother wrote as an English major, while studying at the University of Transkei. I received this script in 2014, when my relationship with my mom had suddenly taken a bad turn. For the most part, we were failing to connect. We were lacking understanding of one another. She had her own assumptions as to how I should grow up, and I had mine as to how she should be a mother. Seemed fair at the time, but it was a vicious cycle which went on for 5 years. Until now—until I read the manuscript.
Two things discouraged me; firstly because it was written in my home language, which I wasn’t fluent in, being an English major myself. The second thing was the fact that I was just-not-interested, as a result of the scorn I felt towards her. The latter being truer than the former; I was obviously bitter.
When she gave me the book, I wasn’t going to read it—and I didn’t, for five whole years. I was secretly proud of my stubbornness; being that I was at odds with her, and I couldn’t fathom why she thought I wanted, or even cared to read her book. We were hardly ever talking to each other, and when we did, we seemed to just push the wrong button – on purpose. We were failing, and deliberately avoiding saying the right things to each other; almost as if we decided that we were just not going to be nice.
It actually also almost became a competition, as to who would “out-do” the other, as far as hurting each other’s already hurting emotions. We were lost in madness, and completely forgot that we were Mother-and-Daughter, and once in love: the day when I was born and she first held me in her new arms, and the day I looked into her eyes—realizing my mom.
I look back now, and I wonder to myself; what-in-hell-was-that-about? What was the anger so much about? The resentment, scorn, and the dislike? Whatever it was; I can attest to you that The-Devil-Is-A-Liar!
Our relationship healed—and her book definitely soothed the scars. It made me realise who I am, inside out. I am her, even on the surface: an English major, writer. Her manuscript has yielded for my healing, it is who I am, and as well as whom I am becoming: a mother, to someday a daughter who will continue to document the story of our progress. As a result of my mother’s manuscript; I can look back and reflect, and see that my writing ability is not merely a thing I like to do—it’s inherent, and there’s proof of that.
I am my mother’s good daughter. Her manuscript had all the facts, and I only found out five years later, but not late! I began to understand so much upon reading it—word for word, every page turned; was the revelation of painful past experience. Not to be judged, but embraced; because not only was it hers, it was also mine to face.
This manuscript, titled “Phuthuma”, which means ‘hurry’; is Something Special because it was God’s gift in healing our relationship. The most special thing is that, despite my ignorant assumptions, I actually began to understand my mother in my own language; ngenxa le bali lika Phuthuma (Thanks to the story of Phuthuma). I may just name my daughter after that!