Left behind

Growing, I dubbed myself “the late bloomer”
I was late to walking, talking, running, learning and growing.
I was late in my journey into and through puberty
And I was late in understanding both the importance and dangers of my skin and its hue.
The older I became, the clearer it was that I was also late in my understanding that I was never the late bloomer I thought I was.
It wasn’t that I was late for anything
It was that I was, for some divine reason, always left behind.
They all fell in love first; fell out of love first, had their hearts broken first
Grew into their skin first
Found themselves first, graduated first, embraced independence first
Created families first and succeeded first
While I remained.
Stuck.
Still blooming.
Left behind, not to suffer, as I’ve oft lamented
But to learn; to understand the depths of my strengths and abilities.
To prepare for the coming tides, because they will come
The love, the heartbreak, the family, the success, the fulfilment
It will come
And when it does
I will shed this new moniker
And wear a new one
Because I will no longer be left behind.

FIRE – Unknown

““Family always finds its way back” That was her mantra. Sometimes I’d catch her staring at me, deep in thought. It was like she was plotting something from the very beginning, like she knew I was never enough and that one day, one day she’d have no use for me and I would end up alone, broken, weak and held prisoner by a mad man.

I was never the strong one; that was my older brother. He had the looks, the charm and the slick tongue that found a way to get him just as much into as it did out of trouble.

I was never like that. I was never like any of them.

That had to be why she sold me. I hope I was worth it.

“Fire of the Lord” That’s what our surname meant. So my mother, who spoke more and more about the importance of family the bigger her belly got, drilled it into our heads that all we had to do was follow the smoke, because that’s where the fire will be, that’s where family will be.

But I couldn’t do that even if I wanted to. It’s been days since anyone’s offered anything more than a cold, tasteless meal and a quick senseless beating.

The beatings are something I kind of miss now.

Part of me hates myself for thinking like that, but I can’t help it. When he beats me, the man my mother sold me to who always smells like cigarettes, at least then I know I’m not invisible. At least then, in between the screams and the cries and the begging, I know that he sees me and he knows I’m still here. Without the beatings, I’m scared that he might forget about me and the food will stop coming.

I wish I had been invisible before I was brought here. If my mother hadn’t seen me and I had been part of the furniture and nobody felt threatened by me, or if I was quiet and didn’t eat too much, maybe then my mother wouldn’t have done what she felt she needed to do.

If I was smart enough, though, I would have seen it coming. She did warn me. She’d always tell me that I didn’t belong with them. She told me I was beautiful and delicate and too precious. She must have been lying. Nobody throws away something that’s beautiful.

I’ve been in the dark for too long. The boarded window just below the ceiling is the only thing that gives away the day and night. Right now it’s too dark, so it must be night.

My mother must have had her reasons for giving me up, so I can’t hate her for doing what she did. We’re not a rich family; it’s just the three of us, probably four now, and so each of us has to work hard and make sure we provide for the family. This was her way of providing for the family. I can’t hate her for surviving.

It just means that I have to survive too. Maybe if I showed them that I can be strong too, that I can be a fighter and I can work hard too, maybe then my mom will keep me.

All I have now is a box with two matches, a wooden door, boards against a window and the clothes on my back.

If I make a big enough fire, maybe they’ll see the smoke and come find me.

This is how I’ll prove to them that I can be better, before the smoke takes over my lungs and before the fire takes everything, maybe they’ll see that I’m just like them. Maybe they’ll see that I’m family.”

Soweto rising: 1976 – youth day

Today, South Africa celebrates and recognises the power of a youth willing to stand for what’s right.

Today, my country mourns the lives lost in a struggle children as young as thirteen inherited, a struggle designed by a people, a government and legal system that placed premium and prejudice to the colour of one’s skin.

The message isn’t “by blood and fire, all wrongs can and will be made right”. It isn’t that a victory only exists when there has been a loss; the message is that a system designed to cripple a group of individuals will not survive. The message is that let us be equal in success and privilege as those children were in death, as man and child, mother and daughter were gunned down without pause.

Today, my country raises up the youth, now living or passed, of 1976. When the streets of Soweto were on fire, when classrooms, hallways and playgrounds were silent and an army stood tall and proud, armed with fists, voices and bodies, against a government armed with rifles, gas and the rule of law.

Today we remember their strength, and celebrate our own.

By Design…

There’s harmony to your design

An inspired balance, a predestined finality to your conjuring

An unwavering permanence to your wounds and wanderings

There is an unalterable element to your every atom

Like the pulsing tide within your veins, there are courses that remain invariably your own

The immutable resolve of settled clay

The indomitable Prometheus’ curse

You are who were meant to be

You never had a choice in the matter

Or did you?

Do you?

 

Project: get off your ass

The epiphanies stopped. The moments of clarity that bring with them a new found energy to take on the world, to conquer and thrive (and be awesome) stopped coming.

I’ve had a head filled with ideas and intentions and a heart bursting at the seams with hope, but I’ve been running on empty. It shouldn’t make sense, but unless you’ve been in my shoes, it won’t.

Something changed; somewhere along my journey, during my fall and my tenacious trek through the perilous wild that’s life, I dropped something of mine that was important. I lost a part of myself in the process of building myself up that I didn’t realise I’d stopped building and was simply fighting against the elements and patching up holes.

So I wandered. But I remained stuck. Again, this shouldn’t make sense, but it does because I lived it.

As with every odyssey, a turning point must be had; a moment where what was once lost, what was taken for granted and thought to have disappeared to never return again, must return to the aid of our hero. I’m the hero here, this is my odyssey, and today’s when the tide turns.

I want to document my progress, to use this space to not only share my journey, but to also keep me accountable. I really hope this isn’t yet another one of my “I promise, I’m really going to start working out and looking hot now, something has to change” phases, I’ve had many and none of them have lived past a week (and that’s being generous).

The goal is to be proactive. Sounds easy, I know, but the hard part will be working against a mindset I’ve created, nurtured and reinforced over the years. I have to fight my inner couch potato, rage against the voices that plead for mercy and I need to turn this into a lifestyle instead of a quick-fix.

I’m an insomniac, so this will be the first hurdle I need to overcome, the second is my health (however that’ll go), and the third is taking initiative mentally to be on point and ahead of the masses professionally. This will be no easy feat, but I don’t have much to do anyway so why not if the end result could change my life.

This means establishing a daily routine, having to stick to a timetable, eating right, being physically active (ouch), being mentally active (I mean, I’m almost always in my head so…), being spiritually stronger and most importantly, being fearless. I was once fearless, I went against the grain and did things that now make me envy the young man I once was, so I’m looking forward to seeing this through and having it become the new norm.

Here we go…