Rituals for Living
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Rites Of Passage Into Womanhood
By Keketso Motale
The story is about the last evening of my rites of passage into womanhood.
A true worrier recounts not the victories but speaks of survival and the scars acquired in the battlefield. In my time of reflection, I speak not with arrogance but with absolute humility about the many opportunities life granted me to overcome adversity. I do not recount the friends and adversaries gained but I speak of the richness of the lessons they have conscientized me to.
I thank them for being both a negative and a positive reflection of who I am for good cannot exist in the absence of evil. The past 10 years of my life have been consistent and a true reflection of my life path, which at times I found daunting and thought of backing down. I have learned that which we aspire and dream of is a declaration of a commitment and a promise to the universe.
In 2001 as I sat and watched the story based on the life of Mother Teresa I knew my life had more meaning and purpose for I had an opportunity to go back and reflect at the one thing consistent in my life was angels in human form who had been there in times of adversity.
Realising the massive impact these people had been in my life I knew it was essential to take that on as my legacy. My journey has not been without challenges and difficulties… When at the prime of your life you realize that the identity you have established, values and principles attained had to change because they were not in line with who you are for everyone it is earth shattering.
I found out I was pregnant in December 2002 and gave birth in January 2003 3 weeks later on a Friday. Suddenly I had become a mother of a child who bore no resemblance to anyone I knew for anyone who looked like that had never been a part of my world.
In seeking a deeper understanding of this child who called upon me for nurturing instead of trying to sit and figure out what this child represented I called upon those who had brought up their own children without being mindful that mine was a special as it unlike no other child brought into this world. Advice came flowing my way on how this beautiful child of mine was to be raised because she was determined and wanted it to be made clear that she/he would not agree to be ignored and that he/she was here to stay.
My baby wanted to take me on a journey into the other realm and my mind kept on telling me it did not exist because in my world all had to make sense and be explained in rational terms. She spoke in tongues, whistles, strange deep, soft and coarse voices and many languages I didn’t recognize as my own though they came from within me. I refer to him as her and her as him because she, because his was not a reflection of a man or a woman but of a spirit and a soul that lived through time.
She took me on journeys to the sea, to mountains and the darkest caves she took me to the depths of the rivers where she thrived. She made it clear that she was not of this world and of this lifetime for hers was eternal. She made me realize that she has lived in the Arabic world for Arabic songs brought sad memories and their prayers spoke to me had meaning that I did not understand.
My child spoke English she transcended the colour or language barrier and because I expected her to speak in one of the indigenous language I would not hear her when she spoke because I would assume she was not speaking to me for if she did she would do so in Sesotho and I lost out on the messages. WildSpiritLightSoul wanted me to remember the memories and the places shed been and kept on telling me this world we were living was an unsafe one and would not give me the peace I longed for.
She wanted me to see the world through her eyes and see beyond and use not my eyes but my soul to see… WildSpiritLightSoul lived and breathed through me her tears became my own, saw evil my worldy eyes could not recognize.
Unlike every mother I never learned my baby’s language because I kept on asking other people what his cries and screams meant when I could have done was to dig inside myself would have been able to find the answers for they were within. The arrival of a brand new year and decade marked the beginning for me for as we danced around the fire to songs sang be those who lived before me as I closed my eyes it took me to faraway places where the trees and grass are green in a mountain valley.
I felt a sense of deep sadness and longing that was not my own but definitely it sure belonged to those who guided me. Once again my child confirmed the path I had taken was not my own, but that taken by my ancestors. It had been a battle for me to get the forces that had been against each other and accusations were flung around for people were refusing to see deeper than my upbringing and education to realize mine was a bigger cause.
I can still see the darkness, the fire and hear the singing voices, the moving figures in front of me… It was drizzling as the rain hit our bare skins and the cold bit my skin but the fire brought me a sense of comfort for the heat produced brought the much-needed warmth… Faraway in the surrounding townships people were celebrating the arrival of the New Year. The bright colours as they flung onto the skies the beauty of the light from the fireworks.
Around me no one took notice for the only sound was the crackling of the burning firewood and the singing voices. I stared at the fire saying the Lord’s prayer as this was the only acknowledgement I could offer the New Year and decade. Finally, I could feel part of the whole process for suddenly I had to abide by the same rules guiding the rest of the women. There will always be a lingering sadness for the abrupt end of to the ritual my wish is that it could have continued longer until it filled the gaping space in me of having missed on the opportunity to undergone the ritual at an early age.