A green and white doek.
Really an ugly green and an off white but
When I fold it into a triangle,
Raise it above my head,
As Napoleon did when he crowned himself,
I see my grandmother in me.
She gifted me this ugly doek when the Easter holiday was coming to an end,
While those around me waited for Jesus to resurrect and I avoided
Eating the leftover hot-cross buns.
I tie it firmly around my head,
Locking in the olive oil in my coarse hair,
As I lay my head down to sleep.
I cover my head with the blood of her mother.
The mother she doesn’t often speak about.
I cover my head with the blood of her sister,
Who left this world heartbroken and left her with a broken
Left her ka pelo e rothang madi.
I cover my head with her blood.
Blood that gave life to my dad and nourished the
Life of Rramogolo.
I wrap that damn doek around my head,
Covering myself in her strength.
Strength that so many praise and that some fear but
Strength that I question the root of,
Because that kind of strength can only arise from a deep place of hurt.
I anoint myself in her tears.
Tears that I have found myself wiping from her aged skin,
Tears that she has caused to flow down my smooth face.
Tears that we collect and store in the back room of our
Passing them down from one generation to the next.
One of these days we need to start healing.
We need to start learning how to let go.
We need to change what it is that we wrap ourselves in.
So until that day comes,
I will wash the green and white doek every week,
Washing the oil from its satin threads,
While the blood of those who came before me flows down the side of my face,
Reminding me of what we wrap ourselves in.
Ogone Mokobe is a lover of people, a lover of warmth, a lover of life and a lover of love. She is currently doing her final year at Rhodes University and the one thing that has gotten her through the four years of this degree is her ability to write. Her ability to write herself back to health has saved her from several deaths.