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Origins of Zen

Sharing Stories - A Glimpse into Another's Life - Fanta and Onions in South Africa

SOUTH AFRICA | Friday, 19 April 2013 | Views [422] | Comments [1] | Scholarship Entry

Her face remained soft and unbothered by the audible calamity of her assault. As she cuts the wood, I ask her what the sign on the wall says. With her eyes still like ponds in tawny enclaves, she cracks down the ax and says, "Bawo Ndiphe Amandla Ndinyamezele Ndakhe Lomzi."

Xhosa used her tongue and lips relentlessly, exposing a rich pigment rare in the scorched landscape. 

I pound the maize on a leaden slab on the floor of the kitchen rondavel with a rock that takes both hands to hold. Slivers of ivory bleed onto the slate with every thrust of my directionless arms, lines of silver, pearl, and coffee. I try to hear the tempo of her swing in my chest. Throwing my whole body forward with each grinding motion, balancing on the rough earth with my knees, I watch as my hands go over the edge of the pedestal and the stone slips off the edge. I put the scrape to my mouth and let the taste of iron and chalk mix. 
  She clicks something, swings her long thin braids behind her shoulders, and motions me out of the way.
"It means Lord give me the strength to build this house." 
  With my hand still in my mouth I look out at two boys making a small livestock pen made of twigs. Their legs were wobbly, and their heads the shape of dark melons, melons you want to put in the palm of your hand just to see how big it is.

She puts a large bowl of something mashed and diluted, with recognizable onions, on the mat on the floor.

“My broda lives heya until he can get de money to build his own. You must pay de chief in lots of pop, Fanta!,” she laughs, “Twelve cases! He is a funny chief I say."

With thick pieces of crumbling Xhosa bread we scoop up the mash. I tell her I love Fanta as morsels fall down my face onto the floor.

“It tis hard work. But our neighbors in de village will help," the Xhosa beating on her mouth with every 'd' and 'p'.

The burnt sienna highlighting her brow gave a false impression of hardness, the mud drying against her skin starkly.

“Do you help your neighbors build deya houses?”

I had so much bread in my mouth I inhaled it and began to cough. It looked as if i was nodding yes.

Tags: Travel Writing Scholarship 2013



Wow, love this. Nice job with the ending.

  forestbattle Apr 19, 2013 2:10 PM

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