I have scribed numerous letters to you Nomachina
Up until now with no response that I clearly understood
Bhut’ wam and Sis’ wam do talk about you but then
Thula moya wam,
as long as my Mother’s child is enjoying peace in bliss
As I am learning to be quieter
Even so, my toiling silence induces birth to questions
I must say, missing your voice puts into exhibition
a portrait of your radiant smile, welcoming us home. Incredible!
Thoughts of you standing impatiently at the gate,
with enthusiasm, always having something to tell and often laughter to share
Swiftly, echoing grief like a haunted tongue as it lurches
annoyance of a chunk in-between the teeth
My solo laughs – Gashed emotion!
Bowls of salty water, running and running
Pulsing across my pulled cheek and chin
like parading cascades while my dimple has turned into a furrow
Maybe I should have forgotten
Maybe discern what to believe from what you said
Early December 2020, you told me something that stayed with me
That you don’t want to leave the children too soon
Then I thought I understood how you enjoyed the tiny hands
Pulling you with your maxi dresses, shouting: “Matshayna, Matshayna!
Mamela Matshayna maarn, o’ hay’ke.”
Desperate for your attention
Absolutely, revelations rather Greater I hope to acquire
In the meantime, I have questions for you MntakaMama
Nomachina, Veliswa, Noluthando for I yearn to listen to you more
But I still call you Mntase, tshomi yam, my Mother’s child
What a giant personality and charisma you are!
My imaginations of the brightness of your floral outfits
have not yet met my fantasy of confronting the pale in the surrounding
Your love and care I will forever cherish.
Looking forward to the day and moment that I wish the angels could whisper
When the inner heft will be immense no more
Spitefully so, my happy chorus is supposedly a make-believe of our re-union
“I love you, you are dearly missed.”
TRANSLATION/GLOSSARY (from isiXhosa register)
– Thula moya wam, (Be comforted my soul,)
– Matshayna (Nickname drawn from the real name: “Nomachina’. It is mostly preferred by kids when addressing Nomachina fondly.
– Bhut’ wam and Sis’ wam (My elder brother and my elder sister)
– Mamela Matshayna maarn, hay’ke. (Listen Matshayna you have to, o’ no then.)
– MntakaMama (My Mother’s child)
– Mntase (My Sibling/Child of my home)
– tshomi yam (chum/dear friend/close friend)
– Enkosi (Thank you.)
Phumla Kese is passionate about theatre in-education, storytelling, African naming practices as well as township varieties such as lingo, music and fashion. While she values indigenous African intelligences, critical literacy and multilingual social practices, she finds fascination in how creative artists view their own crafts. Her creative opinion essay titled: ‘Beyond our cry, hope for the homecoming of a classroom’ was published
in Cape Times on the 26th of June 2020.