Chapter 8

“The way I see it if you want a rainbow you gotta put up with the rain” - Dolly Parton

One week later...


It was finally Christmas day and to be honest I was actually starting to miss home.  Malome Joel never left and he had been attending to my mother and I way too much it even made me suspicious.  My mother still looked a bit frail and she would wake up a bit later than usual so I ensured that I made her a flu mixture every morning.  Usually flu clears within a few days but she seemed to have been coughing quite a lot.  I couldn't understand because it wasn't even cold at all the weather was quite favourable throughout the entire week.  I wasn't planning on getting up early but the wonderful aroma of delicious food woke me.  I headed downstairs and found my mother had made a large scrumptious breakfast.  Everyone in the family knew that my mother was an excellent cook and she could make a meal out of just about anything.  We could never really enjoy a feast except for Christmas and New Year's because we always had to save some food for the coming days but she had access and was allowed to do anything she practically wanted.  The world was her oyster and the kitchen was my mother's favourite place in the house.

Bina: (smiling) “Hmm go nkga monate ka mo (It smells so nice in here).  Why are you up so early today?  Are you feeling better?”

Dimakatso: (smiling) “Yes  my baby.  You know just how much I love Christmas.  It is my most favourite holiday of the year.  I just felt like making my family some breakfast.”

I still couldn't understand why my mother was so patient towards her siblings; I mean she literally never scolded or reprimanded them.  My grandmother always remained quiet whenever my mother's sisters were ganging up on her.  I could see the toll it had put on her body throughout the years.  She had aged so fast that one could barely see her beauty.  They were jealous to be honest.  I heard Vanessa slip the other day and tell me that she had heard my Aunt Celia say that my mother always thought she was the prettiest just because she was the lightest of them all.  I mean honestly she was a bitter and envious woman.  I had always heard stories about evil family members but I had to see it with my own eyes – both my paternal and maternal families were just full of shit.  I mean we did not choose to look the way we did so basically they were mocking the work of God.

Bina: “How are you feeling today?  Are you better?”

Dimakatso: “A lot better my baby.  You know holidays bring out the best in me.  Come sit and have some food.”

She made everything from pancakes to all kinds of eggs and muffins of all kind with juice and fruits galore.  She had gone all out and I was sure to remember that Christmas for a long time.  As I was about to dig in more and more members of our dysfunctional family came down.

Connie: (smiling) “Dimakatso you know how I feel about guests.  You really shouldn't have to make us breakfast.  Come on now.”

Frans: (excitedly) “Aowa (no) I'm most certainly not complaining.  Dimama you were always so good with the pots o phala Salome le Celia (you are way better than Salome and Celia).”

Celia: (annoyed) “Wa nthoma (You're starting with me) Frans.”

Frans: “Just being honest.”

My mother was so happy while Salome was really upset by Malome Frans's comment.  It really showed on her face.  She looked at all the food on the table with absolute disgust while the rest of us were enjoying every bite.

Salome: (frowning) “Hmm o zamile (you tried) sesi (sis).  I mean ke tla reng (what can I say)?  Ga wa di tlwaela tse akere (You're just not used to such things right)?”

My mother's beautiful smile faded once again and was replaced by pain – yet again.  I had honestly had enough of my Aunts toying with my mother's feelings; they were nice to her on some days and then mean to her on others.  She was not some toy but she was a human being who also deserved kindness and respect.

Bina: (angrily) “Bo mmane (my aunts) this is really enough now.  Ka nnete go lekane (honestly it is enough now).  You have treated my mother like an old useless dish rag ever since I have known you.  You have treated her even worse these past few weeks – despite her not looking well at all.  You have been treating her like nothing but a slave this entire time.  I don't think you are happy deep down because if you were you wouldn't be reminding us of how much money you make every single second.  If this is what rich people do then I don't want to be rich.”

Salome: (angrily) “Wa reng wena (what did you just say)?!”

Celia: (shouting) “Ngwanenyana o wa telela (this little girl is so disrespectful)!”

Bina: “Le nkwele gabotse (you heard me well).  Disrespectful or not the truth must be told.  This is my mother; your elder sister.  If you feel that you can't respect her for whatever reason then just keep quiet please.  You are honestly disgraceful for treating her like this and if you think that God is enjoying what you're doing – think again.  Jeremiah 9:23 says; “Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom let not the mighty man boast in his might let not the rich man boast in his riches.  Proverbs 27:1 says; “Do not boast about tomorrow for you do not know what a day may bring. Yes you may both be blessed with money and this fancy life but if you were really happy – you wouldn't be doing this.  I mean my mother has never asked for a cent from you – any of you because she just knew you would ridicule and humiliate her even more.  Be very careful of the way you treat people for when the wheel turns you won't have anyone else to blame but yourselves.”

I was in tears as I said that.  I was fuming but heartache overruled my anger.  Her sisters still saw no reason but a surprising member decided to stand up for my mother and I for the very first time in my life that day.

Celia: (fuming) “Ga o bone nna ke sene bana (This is the reason why I just don't have children)!  O tla nya bana ba go tella net so (You'll birth children only for them to disrespect you like this)!”

Koko: “That is enough Celia.  Wena le (You and) Salome.”

Salome: (shocked) “Mma (mama)!”

Koko: “Ever since we have gotten here you have been nothing but harsh and just vile towards your sister.  Haowa bathong (no man).  We have had enough.  Can we ever have a peaceful holiday – ever?  Re duma go swana le malapa a mangwe (We also would like to be the same as other families).  At times I become ashamed of being a mother to you because of such behaviour.”

They both didn't expect that and neither did my mother and I.  We were both astounded and most certainly not sure if she was being genuine or not.

Celia: (angrily) “Mma (mom)!”

Koko: (reprimanding) “Hayi (No)!  I said that's enough!  Dimakatso made us a really beautiful breakfast and I didn't even hear anyone of you say thank you.  Yes she might have a lot of children but so what?  So fucking what? Le nna ke nyele lena mos (I also birthed all of you didn't I)?!  At least she takes care of her children despite being poor.  Se se salang ga le kgopele selo (At the end of the day she asks nothing of you).  Now we are going to sit right here and enjoy our breakfast like a semi-normal family.  I don't want to hear any of you talking shit for the next few days.  If you start – you'll deal with me.”

I could sense the hope glimmer in my mother from within.  She was absolutely honoured to hear her mother speak about her like that.  She was elated to be honest and I could see her quickly wiping off her tear.  I think that is exactly what she waited for – all those years.  It wasn't exactly an apology but the fact that her mother validated her and everything she did for us made her day.  I still call that day an Unforgettable Christmas.  We had a peaceful breakfast with my aunts biting their tongues the entire morning and the rest of the day was really great.  My mother had been making us food and feeding us galore the whole of the following week.  She seemed so happy and I hardly heard her cough at all.  It was as if I had seen an entirely new her.  Of course my aunts were fake happy and they were nice to her as well but that was most probably because they were afraid of my grandmother.  

New Year's finally came and usually I'd be extremely excited for a new year approaching but on that particular day I woke up with a very disturbing feeling.  I felt as if my heart was so heavy and I actually felt as if something horrible was about to happen on that day.  I don't know what it was

I woke up with a very disturbing feeling.  I felt as if my heart was so heavy and I actually felt as if something horrible was about to happen on that day.  I don't know what it was but I call it intuition.  God didn't give us a sixth sense for no reason.  I immediately thought of my mother so I got out of my bedroom and rushed to hers.

Bina: (worried) “Mama?”

As I feared she was in bed and she could barely hear me.  I felt my entire body freeze for a moment; I felt as if my heart sunk right to the pit of my stomach.

Bina: (distressed) “Mama?!  Mama wa nkwa (can you hear me)?”

She was so still – even when I rushed to her side.  Her breathing was very slow and I started to panic.  I had no idea what to do so I started screaming.

Bina: (shouting) “Thusang (Help)!  Thusang (Help)!”

Immediately Aunt Constance was the first to arrive.  

Connie: (worried) “What is it?  What happened?”

Bina: (teary) “It is my mother she seems – I don't know.  O kare wa lwala (she seems ill).  Even her breathing isn't right.”

I don't know what it was but I saw something in her eyes.  Constance looked as if she was sort of expecting what was happening you know.  She looked as if she knew something that I didn't.

Connie: “Calm down.  She'll wake up soon.”

Within a few moments Koko and Vanessa as well as Malome Frans came rushing.

Frans: (worried) “Keng (what is it)?”

Koko: “And then?  Dimakatso keng (what is it)?”

My mother was lying on her side but she finally managed to open her eyes as much as it looked like a bit of an effort.  I was so shocked that I just started crying silently.

She looked at me and forced a smile as she pulled out her hand so that I could hold it.  I did it without hesitation.

Dimakatso: (smiling) “Bina my baby.”

Frans: (shocked) “Dimakatso what is happening?”

Koko: “Eh (oh) keng o kare wa lwala (why does it seem as if you're ill)?”

I was just baffled.  No one was even planning on taking her to the hospital or calling the paramedics or something.  She looked so pale her mouth was so dry and her eyes looked so weirdly sunken.

Bina: (angrily) “Go reng le sa fonele (why aren't you even calling the) ambulance?”

Dimakatso: (softly) “No no ambulance.”

Connie held my mother's other hand as she had tears running down her face as well.  Something was not right.  My entire body felt it.  I literally felt as if my  body was about to fail me.  How on earth did I miss the signs?  Was my mother dying?

Bina: (crying) “Mama what is happening?”

Dimakatso: (smiling) “My beautiful Bina.  Please forgive me for not being totally honest with you.  The truth is... I'm dying.”

There it was – the nail in the coffin.  I felt my heart tore so quickly as if a bandaid was being ripped with full force from an oozing pimple on my body.  My life was about to change for the worst and I wasn't even prepared for it.

Bina: (crying) “How Mama... Why... I don't understand.”

Dimakatso: “I have breast cancer.  I found out a few months ago and I just didn't have the heart to tell you.  It had already spread to my liver so I just didn't want to add to anyone's burden.  The only person I will forever worry about is you my child.  I know I have most probably failed you as a parent but please bear with me.  Forgive me before I leave.  One day when you're also a parent you'll understand my reasons.”

My grandmother started wailing like the bloody heartless dog she was.  She was most probably faking her sadness.

Dimakatso: “Connie please bring my children.  I want them around when I leave.”

Constance nodded.  I couldn't believe that she hid that from me for so long.  My uncle Frans was so speechless he just stood there crying along with his daughter.  Only when Connie had brought Masalesa Hunadi Matome Lesiba and Pebetsi with her my two aunts came as well as Salome's daughters.  It always baffled me how funerals would bring families together – even those who just never got along.  Sadly the unity just never lasts.  As soon as reality strikes yet again they all go back to their normal lives.  Of course Salome and Celia were so shocked to see my mother in that state.  I knew that deep down they were happy that my mother would be gone from them.  They were most probably thinking who was going to look after us – my mother's brats once she was gone.

Celia: (shocked) “Dimakatso!  Why o sa re botsa gore wa lwala (didn't you tell us that you are sick)?”

Salome: (wide-eyed) “Dimakatso wa shwa (are you dying)?!  Why would you want to die now?!  Who is going to look after your children?!”

Yep as I predicted.

Dimakatso: “My sisters I would like to say a few words before I leave this earth.  I don't have much time.  Badimo ba ka ba ntatile (my ancestors have come to fetch me).”

We all stood there so flabbergasted and we just kept quiet out of respect.  The dying should always be respected and when their final hour comes they should never leave this world while in fear angry or regretful.

Dimakatso: (smiling) “I know you two have never loved me.  I never expected your money in return for taking care of you.  It was my duty after all but all I asked for was respect and sadly I just never received it.  I need you to know that I have forgiven you – all of you.  All I ask from you all is that you give me a decent funeral.  It doesn't have to be the fanciest because even during my days of need – you were never there.  You couldn't even spare some money for bread so that I can feed my children.  As for my children please – treat them well.  You don't have to give them money but please – be kind to them so that they don't endure the heartache and pain that I did.  I have yearned for a family life for so long and I thank you for giving me that for these past two weeks.  Even though it was not very real – it was all fake you have given me something that would make me rejoice in the spiritual world.  I repeat be kind to my children if you want me to be a kind spirit to you all.  Frans I am not angry at you for anything.  You have tried your best and I am proud of the man you have become.  Mama you and I never saw eye to eye but thank you for being so nice to me these past few weeks.  Please take care of my children and you shall be rewarded with the best of your final years here on earth.  Bina my baby.  Life is tough it is just tougher for some of us and all I ask of you is that you stay strong.  Whenever you feel as if you just can't soldier on any more call upon me call upon your father and call upon God so that you can be able to fight the demons in this world.  Life is tough but if you stay headstrong in faith you can be the best version of yourself.  Please mourn me but do not cry forever for we are all bound to leave this earth eventually.  I didn't want you to spend one of your favourite holidays like this but all I ask of you is that you never think of this day so negatively.  One day everything will make sense to you and believe me when I say this; this day will bring you so much joy one day; it all depends how you see it.  I love you so much along with all of you my children.  Do not be sad for I am going home.  I am finally reunited with my husband and everyone who have done me wrong shall reap what they have sown.  I ask of you – those of you who haven't repented to do so or else you shall face the consequences.”

I was crying so much that I felt as if I was about to drop dead right there.

Dimakatso: “I have to go now my family.  I love you all – remember that.”

I felt my mother's firm grip become less firmer and I could tell that her soul was about to leave her body.  The room was filled with such a deafening silence and all the tears and sniffs that had visited us on that day were a painful reminder that death was visiting us yet again.

Bina: (wailing) “Mama!  Mama!  Don't leave me – please!”

My mother gasped for air as she took her last few breaths and then she was gone.  Her eyes were not blinking any more and her chest was not moving any more.  She was finally gone and I felt a bit of warmth around the room and something that felt like wind brushing against my skin.  I knew then that her ancestors were fetching her – they were in the room with us.

Celia: (screaming) “Iyo (oh) Sesi (sister)!  Ntshwarele (forgive me)!”

Salome: (wailing) “Dimakatso!  O re shile (you have left us)!  Modimo (God) why are you so cruel?!”

Koko: (chanting) “Modimo le Badimo (God and our ancestors) amogelang ngwanaka (accept my child).  Ka tshepa le tlile go mo tseya (I trust you came to fetch her).  Lead her safely towards her new journey and ensure that she becomes a good ancestor to us and to her children.  Badimo ga ba na swele (ancestors have no spite) so please be kind to us.”

I couldn't believe what she was spewing from her evil mouth.  Even during times of sorrow she still felt the need to add some hurtful words in her chants and prayer.  My family was so cruel and the moment my mother left this earth was the day I knew that I'd never experience a mother's love ever again.

Matthew 7:13 – 14 says; “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life and those who find it are few. “


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