To the Black Women We All Knew , livre ebook

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As Ama�s wedding day approaches and her friends � Beauty, Matlakala and Pamela are there to lend varying degrees of support. But when tragedy strikes on Ama�s wedding day and spreads to every corner of the group�s lives they hold on to each other to survive. Will their misfortunes bring them closer together or will they tear the quilt of their friendship apart? They are our mothers, our sisters, our daughters, our girlfriends, our aunties. Pamela�s body is a ravaged canvas of her troubles. Matlakala tries to prop up a failing relationship. Beauty�s sharp tongue and dark secret threatens to doom her to a life lived alone. In To the Black Women We All Knew, Maenetsha showcases the modern township existence and its weakening yet ever-present link to tradition. Her vivid writing tells of the capriciousness of life and love and the strength of women in the face of a crisis.
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Publié par

Date de parution

18 mai 2014

Nombre de lectures

8

EAN13

9781920590789

Langue

English

To the Black Women We All Knew
Kholofelo Maenetsha


For my beloved mother, Rosemary Annah Maenetsha



Contents
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Epilogue
Other fiction titles published by Modjaji Books




Chapter 1
It was a quilt they made: their needles moved in and out of the pieces of fabric they were sewing together to form one intricate pattern. With a jab of her needle, a hole was made, leading Matlakala along a path of patches and colours. Matlakala, meaning rubbish. She had been given this name because she was born after a stillborn baby; this was a way to protect her from her ancestors who might find her worthy, as they had the other child. So her mother devalued her before they could take her away too.
Matlakala’s hands moved feverishly over her patchwork, creating zigzags on the cloth. If looked at closely they resembled Egyptian hieroglyphs. In her slightly high-pitched voice, more like that of a child than a woman of twenty-four, Matlakala murmured to herself, as if deciphering the patterns on the cloth.
“If love could speak, it would look deep into my soul and tell me what lies there. If love could speak I believe it would say … ow!” The sound escaped Matlakala’s lips. She put her pricked finger to her mouth, dulling the pain.
“If you stopped day-dreaming, Matlakala, you wouldn’t hurt yourself,” Pamela said, not looking up from her work. Her needle moved with slow, calculated movements. Pamela, whose plump figure bordered on obese, was the perfect wife to her husband and a doting mother to her children. Maybe it was her extra weight that slowed her movements, or maybe it was her way of meditating. If asked, her needle would meekly say: “Love, for a woman, exists for only an hour. She is bound by dreams, imaginings. Hoping it will last a lifetime. But a lifetime is only wedding cakes and memories of that one day. When she said I do.”
A long sigh escaped Pamela’s lips as her mind turned to her wedding day. It had been beautiful. Just the thought of that day cheered her, momentarily relieving the pain she was feeling in the present. Pamela’s eyes filled with tears at the thought of the wrong turns her marriage was taking. It was a long, unrelenting journey that was not likely to end well. Pamela sniffed. She had to be strong, especially for Ama. This was her day. For the first time since she had started working, Pamela looked up at the bride to be. She felt both pity and joy for her friend. Maybe Thabo, Ama’s fiancé, was different. Pamela bent her head, returning to her work and sending a silent prayer to the heavens for Ama.
As though receiving these blessings from above, Ama stretched out one arm and smiled. Although not beautiful, Ama’s face was pleasant, with wide eyes and small lips. Her quiet nature irritated some people, like Beauty, who felt that women shouldn’t display their weaknesses and rarely tolerated such qualities in anyone. Beauty was the queen bee of the quartet. She brought energy and laughter to every space she entered. Now her needle moved swiftly but carefully through the fabric, her fingers caressing the cloth. Her eyes were bright with the colours she was sewing together and her lips moved slightly, whispering the notes of a tune.
“Beauty, are you ever going to get anywhere with that?” Ama asked, wondering at Beauty’s smile. It was the smile of someone in love. For as long as she could remember, Ama had never smiled so sweetly or happily. Even after Thabo had proposed, Ama had never found herself beaming idiotically because of love. The feeling of bliss had eluded her somehow. Although they had never told her, Ama knew that Beauty and her brother Jeffrey were involved, though she hadn’t realised until now that their involvement went as deep as Beauty’s infuriating smile revealed. Was she truly in love with Thabo Ama wondered. She was going to marry him the day after tomorrow. Ama fixated on Beauty’s smile, could I spend the rest of my life with him? It made her feel lost, unsure about what was between her and Thabo. Did she really want to marry him? Surely she should know by now. Ama felt like crying. The half-finished quilt spread out on each woman’s lap was being made for her. For a moment she felt like she couldn’t breathe. Was it supposed to feel like this, like being trapped?
After a while, Ama said softly, “The cake will be ready for the last viewing tomorrow.”
“Isn’t tomorrow a bit late?” Beauty said.
“No, it’s for any last minute changes I want to make.”
“Wow! Everything is happening so fast, isn’t it?” Matlakala said, fantasising about weddings and love, until Joe drifted into her mind, and her brows furrowed in pain. She wouldn’t think of him now.
“Yes,” Ama said, not sure whether to be pleased or not.
“Falling in love is the most beautiful thing,” Matlakala said, smiling like a teenage girl with her first crush. At that, Beauty released a disgusted snort. The others turned towards her.
“There’s no need to be cynical, Beauty. I believe every woman deserves a man that will love her, that’s all.”
“Well I guess you would know, Matlakala, wouldn’t you? I mean Joe doesn’t speak to you, he sleeps with every woman that walks, drinks like a fish …”
“Must you be so mean all the time?” Ama shook her head.
“What? I’m saying what’s on my mind and what we all know is the truth. I mean really, if that’s what you call love, please spare me. I can do without that kind of love, the love that black women suffer to keep some man in their life, and for what?” Beauty gestured towards Pamela.
Pamela knew that people talked about her, judged her, even. She was a statistic, one of the millions of abused women around the world, a fact she resented. Maybe I should just kill Mandla and go from being the abused to a murderer. Take back my power, Pamela thought.
“I believe your father did wrong by you, Beauty. No woman should be this cynical.” Beauty looked at Ama, her emotions chasing after each other across her face. Anger won.
“My father did right by himself. I believe every human being has the right to do right by him- or herself.”
“But the question is, did he do right by you?” Ama persisted.
“You know what? I think it’s time for me to get going. I’m afraid if I open my mouth right now I might say something I’ll regret.” In her hurry, Beauty carelessly tossed aside her needlework, tangling threads and brightly coloured cloths. She picked up her bag and began to make for the door.
“Beauty.” Ama’s voice was gentle.
“What?”
“Jeffrey asked me to tell you to come and see him once we’re done here. He’s out back.”
“You can tell your brother I’ll see him tomorrow, like we arranged.”
“But Beauty …”
“Ama, Jeffrey and I are fine. Don’t worry yourself.” She turned and left.
“Some relationships are complicated, aren’t they?” said Matlakala.
“I never could tell what my brother saw in her.”
“Hush, she’s our friend,” Pamela said relaxing into her chair. Whenever Beauty was around, ever since they had talked about her situation, she felt a yoke of tension around her shoulders. She felt guilty and helpless for involving her friends in her problems. She’d been married to Mandla for sixteen long years. And her friends had been there for every broken bone and swollen muscle, but people have their limits, and Pamela feared they had reached theirs.
“I know she’s our friend and everything, but she’s just so …”
“Ama, please don’t gossip. It never helps,” Pamela said.
“I wasn’t going to say anything bad. I just …”
“What, Ama?” said Matlakala.
“I’m scared. In a way, Beauty is right. Why does it seem like loving a man is more about sacrifice than two people coming together because they love each?”
“Do you love Thabo?” Pamela asked.
“Yes, very much.”
“Then, there it is.”
“Were you afraid, Pamela? Was it as easy as waking up and putting on your shoes?” Ama asked.
Pamela swallowed hard. Had it been easy, marrying Mandla?
“No, it wasn’t easy, but not being with him would have made it worse.”
Matlakala felt tears prick her eyes. She bent her head so that the others could not see her sadness. She might dream of love in her fantasies, but reality was a different matter.
“So that’s why it’s hard for you to leave him, even now?” Ama asked, still wanting to appease her own fears.
“Ama, sometimes a woman loses sight of her needs. All she can see is her husband and children. Her life is no longer hers alone.”
“The way you love him, would you die for him?” Ama continued.
“I don’t know about that,” Pamela said, smiling. Ama seemed to understand Pamela’s joke because she smiled too.
“Come on back to work, tomorrow is our last day before the big wedding.” Pamela feigned excitement. With faith they would make it through, she thought. The three women worked quietly, forgetting time. Their hands turned the hours into a black blanket of night. It was the comforting companionship of being with other women working together that lulled Pamela into forgetfulness. She felt happy and free in that moment. Then it struck her – she was late. She felt a familiar panic rising. It was a fair distance from Meadowlands Zone 9 to Dobsonville.
“I have to go” she said.
“I also need to go.” Matlakala got up, gathering her pieces of fabric into a neat pile.
Outside, Matlakala quickly flagged a taxi to Pimville, while Pamela watched anxiously, hoping a taxi going to Dobsonville would come soon. She looked at her watch – quarter to eight.

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