Eku Sunguleni (In the Beginning)

I have my mother’s eyes.
Abandoned cornfields awaiting rain.
The soil back home.
But that don’t-fall-asleep-here kind of home because it is shaped like a rocky boat that catches fire even when water is abundant.
I have my father’s mouth.
A gap between my front teeth.
I used to be afraid to smile because I was self-conscious about that gap.
Now I smile because I want you to take me home to my father when I am lost.

I have my own face.
The people in my family have round faces.
For a long time, long before I started catching glimpses of my parents in my reflection, I wondered if I belonged with them.
In primary school a boy said I had a face as long as a horse’s and at lunchtime, I begged God to make it round.
Upon returning from a funeral, my maternal grandmother would dab ash from the coal-stove on my forehead.
I didn’t know what it meant. I never asked.
Now I think she was saying “you are still here” because when she left this earth nobody dotted my forehead with anything and I have never felt so empty in my life.
How dare you say I don’t look Tsonga or Venda when all I remember from my childhood are the faces I stole features from?
“Eku sunguleni Xikwembu xi tumbuluxile…” (ln the beginning, God created…)

This face. And my face maps my heritage.

1 thought on “Eku Sunguleni (In the Beginning)

  1. I’d started reading it, before I realised it could only be you. I love your mind. It’s rich and beautiful. I imagine a thousand epic tales dancing within.


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