#PoeticLicence: My family is now embarking on a collective journey of remembrance

Author and poet Rabbie Serumula. File image.

Author and poet Rabbie Serumula. File image.

Published Oct 22, 2023


Johannesburg - More of my family have discovered this column, and they all instantly know that I write to heal.

Last week one of my older cousins back in Limpopo sent me a message; “My couzy how are you?”, she wrote. “After going through your poetry, I had mixed emotions.”

She said she was one of my followers and ever since she started reading Poetic Licence just last week, she knew that I am bringing to LIGHT the darkness inside of me.

She had read the edition about my brother giving my entire family collective amnesia. “Cough it out couzy, we are together,” she concluded her text.

The support and encouragement they give me reminds me of a story my uncle, Shirley, who lives in Botswana, told me this week:

It was over 50 years ago and my late father, then a young rural man in tune with nature, had been tasked with a mission – to fetch our family’s cattle.

The sun hung low in the sky, casting long shadows across the land. He asked my uncle to go along with him. He said my great-grandfather gave Buti Chris (what he calls my father) instructions in his presence.

But little did little Shirley know the place was far. The journey seemed to stretch endlessly, his youthful legs growing weary, and his stomach began to gnaw with hunger.

“On the way, I got more hungry and tired. He kept on saying we were not far. I kept on complaining until he picked up an orange peel. He cut it in half and gave me half.” This is reminiscent of a Sepedi saying; “bana ba motho ba ngwathelana hlogo ya tsie”, which translates to ‘siblings share the head of a locust’.

That orange peel wasn’t fresh, but it wasn’t too hard either. He said my father advised him not to eat it all at once. “The orange peel had to last us for the whole journey. Each time I took a little bite it refreshed me,” my uncle’s text continued to read. At this part of his message, caterpillars had long cocooned in my belly, I had butterflies and my heart continued to bleed.

Uncle Shirley doesn’t know if it was the orange peel or my father’s encouragement. But they returned with the cows and didn’t finish that orange peel.

“Each time there’s a problem, I always remember that incident. I had a shift in perspective that day, an enlightenment of sorts for an idle village boy. Immediately when I arrived home I was so tired that I slept.”

I’m deeply thankful for the support and encouragement my family has been offering me in my healing and writing journey. It feels like they’re sharing an orange peel with me – each bit of their support helps me through life’s challenges.

Dear reader, I’m proud to share that my family is now embarking on a collective journey of remembrance, delving into the past to recollect, at the very least, the year of my brother’s passing.

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