Lalela Mngane wami

My primary years were filled with a lot of strong character and confidence. I remember in my second grade, there was a season of pinky pinky. Pinky pinky was friend who came to visit but he/she lived in the bathrooms. So I would be very scared of going to the bathrooms. During break times it was easy because all of us went, but when you had to ask during class, then things got very difficult.

One day I had an incident in grade two, I was afraid of going to the bathroom enabo pinky pinky and I allowed myself to release the pressure. Then I took my jacket and tied it around my waist, off I went back into the class. Our class teacher decided to do a class inspection and I was sent home. This is one incident that embarrassed me at school and I don’t remember how I got to live my life afterwards.

I think generally I am afraid of scary movies or anything that will traumatize me in my sleep. Every year since I can remember, I went to Natal for vacation during school holidays. I remember my brother hiring a movie the Killer Clown in 1994, that movie stayed in my brain for more than a year and my sleep pattern was never the same afterwards.  Thank God at home we didn’t have TV so there was no source to give me scary nights. I also did not watch Leselo Rula for those reasons; I did not react well to scary stuff, especially when I had to sleep. As a result as a child, I would have dreams of standing in the centre of our yard with this pinky pinky making me dizzy. Those dreams would only stop the day I knew how to pray.

I started going to church early days of my life but the one that I remember is in 1992 which was on my way back from school. So each afternoon there would be kids singing in this white tent on my way home, until I got in the other day, to find this tall beautiful gogo  Radebe teaching Sunday School.  During those days, Sunday School was done from Monday to Sunday except Saturday and yes we called it Sunday even when it was mid-week. She taught us beautiful songs and basically connected my “voice” to God. It was in 1990 that I first understood that there is a creator of heaven and earth and his name is God.

There are so many things that we were taught over and above the beautiful songs that we used to sing. I remember that she also taught us that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. This lesson stuck with me and I recall that in 1993, one of the very playful boys tried to kiss me. There I was in class 3 b, a boy is trying to kiss me. I immediately went and told my teacher and the boy was taken into the principal’s office. I think this experience sort of affected the boy from that day. I did not do anything directly to him but I know for sure that even today our relationship was marked by the incident of 1993. This taught me something about the level of discipline that was present at my school. To date I am grateful that our school yard was safe place to and a place where one could raise her voice and be heard.

I have beautiful memories of my primary school. The one also sticks out to me is how I never used to study after school from grade 1 to 4. I can remember clearly that standard 5 was a very difficult year for me. In standard 5 I had to learn geography, I also realised that I did not have an Atlas and any material that was required for the class. Somehow in Standard five I was anxious more than I had even been in my study life. I made more effort to study and I know I felt like my teacher didn’t like me. So when the opportunity to become a prefect came, I remember I was not so keen on it. So I don’t remember if I ended up becoming one or whether or not someone lese took it. I do remember that 1995 required juggling a lot in terms of homework and life. For some reason I was growing and I had a bit of pressure going on in my life

I think I was also growing to be a social being, for example I remember how one of our teachers was so excited after being married, the excitement on her face was that of a little girl, I remember the same teacher being pregnant and walking the corridors with that sense of contentment.

It was in standard five that I knew what it meant to be liked, I always had two boys who made sure that my collar was sitting right, unbeknown to them, that underneath my jim dress what a half shirt that I would have been pulling down whilst messing the collar on the other end. The shirt would be half from the continuous burns that it has endured in my hands of ironing or from the hand downs I received from my brothers which would also have seen its better days. These boys also liked to wipe my chair to make sure it was dust free before I sat on. They would volunteer to do something with me or be on my side in any conversation that I found myself debating. It was in 1995 that I developed a crew of friends that would walk the studying journey up until my matric!

1995 was demanding academically, the length of recitations was longer on top of it they added a lot of bible verses that we had to know and recite off by heart.  I was the first chid to recite all verses in succession without missing a lie, from Psalm 121 to All things bright and beautiful.

It was in this year that my dream for a better life became solid. I met for the first time someone that I could identify with, from the novel Lalela Mngane Wami by EM Damane. I was always a class reader from the very early ages of my life, but in 1995 my reading ability took a different course. I knew how to express emotions when required; I read this novel with so much purpose and understanding. There were so many things that I could identify with this girl. The benches they used in their home, the culture, the hopes, the dreams and social environment, I saw myself in her and I was so inspired. I do believe that is how I thought becoming a nurse made sense, although inwardly I wasn’t drawn into that conclusion, I do recall my brothers saying id do well at caring for people because I have a natural way of taking care of people in my day to day life.

She was born into a poor family; they lived in, they used benches as chairs, I could identify with that as we also used benches as chairs. She studies and graduates to become a nurse. She completed starts working meets someone and gets married. She was my first mentor, my first person who I wanted to be like.

She was my first imagination of a better and empowered me.

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