I remember the last time I felt deeply and truly loved. Ironically, it did not start off that way…
“Nosipho! Nosipho!” I was partly woken up from being chased by gorillas, angry gorillas that somehow knew my name. One of them seemed to have my mother’s voice.
“NOSIPHO!” my mother’s voice blasted from somewhere in the house. I opened my eyes to be met by a once white ceiling board, now filled with brown patches. The fear of those angry gorillas transfered to the fear of my mother’s shouting. She never shouted, not even when I came home covered in sand.
“Ma?” I replied nervously to her call.
I didn’t hear her footsteps, but the clicky sound from her ankles always worked as a loyal messenger of my mother approaching.
I dug deep into the big safe blanket as I glared at the brown door of terror. It promised to bring rage. The door swung open. Normally, this would start with my plea for forgiveness and end with a lighter punishment. Not that day! My mother’s face clearly indicated how bad my hiding would be. I immediately took cover, the big blanket was my hiding place.
Bam! Bam! Bam! My back, my bum, my legs.
She pulled the blanket to the floor faster than I could gather the strength to pull it back.
Mama: “Why did you steal, lie and leave an obvious mess that clearly leads back to you?”
She had that look in her eyes, that look that made my stomach turn. I never liked that look. I had no answer to her question, so I sat there with tears in my eyes, rolling down my face. I had learnt earlier on that tears are very important when trying to get out of this situation.
“Ngiyaxolisa, Mama,” I said again in a shaky crying voice. I had messed up big time.
Choice Assorted biscuits were every family’s Christmas tradition. They were usually bought earlier, but only opened on Christmas. I, being the mischievous little girl I was, had opened and stolen five biscuits, hidden behind the living room sofa and eaten three of them, leaving two smashed on the floor. I had played racing cars, the chocolate biscuit winning the race because it was round and faster.
“I hit you, because you lied saying your brother took them. I hit you, because you stole the biscuits and lastly, I hit you because what you did shows that you are very disrespectful.”
My mother always explained clearly and thoroughly why she hit us. She always said we would understand when we were older.
“The Bible says – Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline removes it from him. I hit you to remove the foolishness of your immaturity, I hit you because I love you.”
That always made me laugh, for some odd reason. Maybe it’s because even in the beating I knew she loved me undoubtedly. The love she gave far exceeded the disciplinary beatings.
That evening when darkness had fallen and the twinkling stars were dancing in the sky, my mother called me to her room. I ran down the passage with some excitement in my heart. The door was already open, the room dim, my mother snuggled in her maroon blanket. I loved that blanket. It was fluffy and warm. My tiny body pressed against my mother, she was warmer than the blanket, her calming perfume my favourite. She pulled me closer. We sat in silence for a while, but somehow a conversation was taking place in the silence. A reassuring feeling of deep, unconditional love, no words were enough to explain it, this silence was perfect.
“Nosipho,” my mother whispered in a calm voice.
“Ma,” I replied, eager to hear what she had to say.
“I love you undoubtedly and I will not stop disciplining you.” How controversial, I thought to myself, while laughing. She laughed too, as if in agreement with my thought.
“I am going away for a few days. I know you can handle yourself. I need you to keep three things in mind. Listen to your father, let no man touch you uncomfortably, not even your father, and study, your studies will take you far, my child.” She was so calm, but a mystery was lingering in the air.
“So, when do you get back, and what will you bring back for me?” I said, unaware of what my mother was trying to do.
She laughed. “Baby, I will bring you everything you love.”
We sat in silence until I fell half asleep. “Mama, I’m off to sleep now,” I said drowsily.
“Good night baby, I will see you in the morning.”
And that was the last time.