Love is a mystery to me…
But it was not always so. When I was little I knew what love was without having to be told. I was living in love all the time – doing the things that I wanted to do without seeking approval from anyone including my grandmother who I feared as much as I loved. I remember always getting into trouble. Because I was always so curious. I loved adventure. But I explored more than I talked. I did things and then asked questions later… or faced the wrath of my grandmother later.
Even though she used a leather skipping rope to punish me as a child while I would still be naked and wet from having taken a bath…when she later pulled me closer to her warm soft breasts while she smoked Rothmans King Size cigarets or when she gave me amaRomantics sweets … I knew that her love for me was just as genuine.. even though I couldn’t understand why she would have to hit me so hard. My fear of her was as real and as deep as my love for her.
I am 32 now. And I am re-living my childhood again. I suppose I am at that age when both my grandmother and mother would tell me stories about their mother and their childhood. This is my time for storytelling …and remembering what it was that I loved and enjoyed most doing as a child – who I am. I realize that somewhere in my life I somehow confused love with ‘approval”. Through school I learnt that if I did what the teacher said, remembered everything she taught me through the text-book word for word with no Independent thought, I would get her approval which also meant love. If I was friendly and “nice’ to everyone – never had a different opinion, agreed with everything and everyone, I would get their approval; if I studied and passed and got A’s I would get someone’s “approval” and that somehow that “approval” equaled “love” which means I would get a Job and that Job would get me money – which is the ultimate sign of Love or Approval. If I didn’t do as they said – I would not get their approval which also equaled love and love equals money. The world is unfortunately designed this way. Everything you do has to be approved of by someone – somewhere – and this reality has confused the living day-lights out of me. I have read other people’s definitions of love… I had countless people tell me they love me – but many of those encounters often left me more confused about love – and what it means – than ever before. It left me feeling emptier and emptier and wondering Kanti what IS Love??kahle kahle?
I have a fond memory at the House of Tandoor in Yeoville Johannesburg dancing to a reggae mix of Mariah Carey’s song ” I want to know what Love is” — my tearful questions fell in rhythm with each piano chord….the beat engulfed my being with each tremor I swam in the beat and the rhythm – my entire being became one with the music, with light and darkness with time and space it was as though love came and said here I am can you feel me? I am all of you.want to know what love was – and that was pure love. I truly, seriously wanted to know – What is LOVE? The more I did what I wanted to do the more I felt as though I was being punished for doing it. For being myself – Because no one approved – there was no Love and no Money. There would be justifications for this always : it’s not what you do its how you do it or it’s not what you say but how you say it, yes say what you want but it must not “upset” anyone then it’s not “right” or questions: why are you doing this instead of that? why are you doing it this way instead of that way? if you did it this way or changed that thing , if you did it then instead of now maybe I would help you, love you, give you money etc. In short do what I want.
Doing YOU. Being who YOU ARE. Takes more courage, strength, more will and resilience than acquiring any Academic degree, fame or money. Why? Because often no-one has any idea who YOU are – including your mother, father , friends and well-meaning acquaintances. Despite the fact that many people say “be yourself” , they don’t know who or what that self is. And when it doesn’t meet their pre-determined requirements for ‘approval” then that “self’ is punished. Then being yourself is “wrong”. Even so that is the only to way to freedom’ to love. That is why being your “true” authentic self seems like the hardest thing: life is designed for you to be anything but who YOU are. And you must be brave enough and courageous enough to be you even when no one gives you their approval. At first it’s can be the loneliest place in the world, it can be alienating, and yes you will be called all sorts of names – CRAZY – being the most common. Because it’s easier to call something or someone crazy when you don’t understand.
So baby here’s my love story… a piece of it at least. It’s short. Don’t worry.
Two things come sharply into focus… or at least became clearer in recent days. What I loved doing most as a child. Because I go through these moments when I’m like… what? who am I? he he it’s really fun to be me! Each time I ask I get different answers…. this time the answer was sweeter, simpler and as most answers often are, right under my nose.
The apple tree at the back of our yard + Listening to stories told by my mother and grandmother and telling stories with my older sister.
My mother and grandmother used to tell us stories of my great-grandmother Popane. Of how was the most fiercely feared and loved Queen of the Zulu-Household. “You could hear her coming from miles away …..the shwooosh shwoooosh of her flat slippers would wake you up even before she knocked on the door” Said my grandmother as she cut her bread into tiny little squares dipping them into her cup of milky tea. She looked so cute when she was eating. She had a round face – with dark perky tiny lips and expressive eyes I always looked at her mouth when she spoke. I found her lips beautiful… i found the sound of her voice amazing and I always looked into where the sound came from. The apple tree was my friend. I knew it before I was conscious of myself in this world – and the only picture I have of as a baby is taken against that tree. It was an apple tree. Did I say it was an apple tree? Yes it was and I loved it. From the tree I would wonder and observe and create the kind of life I would want to live. I watched our neighbours lives change from that Apple tree. There was a wedding one day, then the married couple come home each Sunday to visit the grandmother ” gog-Sheila” they called her. She would walk out, hands on her hips with a smile on her face to greet them on the front veranda of her gray house. They would disappear inside for hours. I would watch their lives an intensely as I watched ant’s crawling in line from one hole to another. Later they would come out of the house with more smiles, she would have goodbye as they stepped into the car parked on the pavement outside and disappeared. Soon they came with a baby and the same story of going in and out of the house would repeat itself. I wondered where they lived, and what they did on those days that they didn’t come home to visit.
Radio Zulu! Because we had no TV – the tree, my sister, ants , my grandmother and the radio where my greatest source of entertainment. We listed to the radio during the evenings at 7 when my grandmother was back from work. While eating supper. I would sit right next to the big speaker… as if I wanted to be Inside the radio where the sound came from.. same idea with watching my grandmother’s mouth. I fell in love with the voices…which were beautiful sweet and free sounding — “Amakhekhe….mtanami” beaming out of the speakers would scare the living day-lights out of me, but I would never miss it.
The word love has been pouring out of my fingertips lately… more often than not I just want to type the word, do the word LOVE. over and over again. As if to call LOVE into my life…. only to discover the biggest secrete of them all … .that I am LOVE. That What I yearn for and wanted the most has always been inside of me. The voice. The apple. The Tree. I am all those things. All I need is a Mac! lol
How did I come to that conclusion? To put it simply….I came to that conclusion because love is all I have ever wanted, All I have been searching and searching for everywhere and anywhere. All over the world I went searching for something, I already had but couldn’t see. It’s amazing to me. Love?
It’s me. And you know what I love most in this world? well story-telling and the Radio! I love moving pictures too. Radio is my first. love.
Music and dancing.
Why I didn’t know this all this time remains a mystery to me!
But of course that’s the beauty of life.
What I know for sure – do what you love and love will take care of you.
What you LOVE is WHO you are. ( not something that hurts others : in this context I’m talking about love in its “highest” form)
I Love and Adore Radio Story telling. It’s what my dreams are made of. Voices, sounds rhythms…vibrations … me!
And guess what? I have you to thank … Dear Monti. For reminding me of that.