In Time by Angelo Grant

From little date seeds, great things are born.

Everything’s gone as planned. As per custom. Away from baby’s father for all nine months. Stayed with parents. The whole room’s been polished with cow dung, right? Yeah. Been alone since just now because I started to feel it. It’s coming. Mother, grandmother, and little sister. I wish he was here but again, as per custom. He can’t wash like they can anyway, he’d just get in the way. I can see this being excruciating but I can’t wait. Here she comes.

The greatest pain I’ve felt in my lifetime—but it is well worth it. I just want to hold and be held. I deserve to at this point. But she’s held over the fire hanging, navel and all. Has it been an hour yet? And every day until it falls from her belly? It needs to drop now. The hour’s up, finally. She’s taken down, for now at least, and finally. Finally, I can hold her.

It was three more days until the cord dropped. She’s one of us now. Her family, our family, files in to celebrate. There he is! It’s been so long… I can be held now. We embrace until he has to go and bury the cord. Give thanks to the ancestors.  Her name..? We decided to name her Lindiwe. Yes, “awaited”. Now that she’s here, the village is behind her – she’s going to be great.

If you don’t initiate the youth, they will burn down the village.

I’m ready to become a man. I’m so close. I’ve done everything I needed to. As a boy, I made sure I was good and hardworking and always listened to my father. He had to choose me for the fanadu this time around. But… wow. This has been hell. But I guess there’s no other way.

The ceremony on the first day was pretty cool. I got to wear bullhorns and even blow them and so did my age-mates. A lot of people from the village came to watch and we all danced together. It got really intense after that, though. We did the circum-whatever and got sent into the sacred forest for two months. Two months, man. All we got was a pano cloth we had to use for clothing and shelter too. That’s not even to mention that we were watching out for witchcraft the whole time. They must’ve known we were easy-pickings during this weird transition phase. I don’t know why anyone would do that to us. There’s so much jealousy it scares me these days. We were protected by, but still, I have to admit I was pretty scared.

We’re almost done now though and I can honestly say- I honestly feel like I’ve grown. Like I’m almost a man of the village. I can’t believe every man went through this. So much respect for everyone now. And no more messing around for me. I know what I have to do now. The doors of wisdom are now wide open.

When one is in love, a cliff becomes a meadow.

It’d been decided before I was. Before we were. I never really understood that; how two people could be tied together from before they ever knew anything about anything. I didn’t really understand all the family arrangements and prices and all that either until recently. All I’ve known for a long time now is that somehow, maybe luckily, I do love her. If I have to pay a little bride price to be with her then so be it.

I’ve never been away from her for this long. I wish this wasn’t part of the whole tradition. But it’s given me time to think. And even though I know I love her, and I embrace destiny, I wonder if she sees it as an unfortunate fate. And how does she feel about our family paying 8 cows for her and our marriage? Maybe I’ll ask her sometime soon, after everything’s official.

But the payment’s being made tomorrow. At that point, she’ll be between families already and it might be too late. Before no time we’ll be recognized by the village as a married couple. I really hope this is what she wants as well. I know it’s more than just her and I, it’s a union of two families, and her family feels that we’d do best together, but still… 

Eternity is an ocean, time is the ship, destiny is the captain, and death is the storm.

What a feeling. The purest experience of peace. More than peace; a release. A release from the burden of the flesh. Though still not among the ancestors, I do feel the call, the pull. 

What were they meant to do back there again? The burial of course, yes. And then they had to do that ritual, right? The one to move me on to meet the ancestors. Yes. What had it been called again? Really no matter at all. I’m free, finally, and I trust them to do what must be done.

What I need to do now is prepare to guide. The people of the village depend on the ancestors for direction. Not only that, but with death comes life. It had been time for me to make way for the life of another in the village and assume my ancestral role. In fact, I had been told a child was born right before I transitioned. She’d just finished the birth ritual. I’d love to see the child. Once I join the ancestors I must do what I can to guide and protect her. I believe her mother had named her Lindiwe.