Caught with his "Tshega" down!

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short fiction piece about a born-free young man who grew up in Old Botswana.His behavior was considered rebellious and dangerous by the community.He needed to conform in order to survive but he had no real sense of danger!

Submitted: February 07, 2017

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Submitted: February 07, 2017

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He gently peeped through the small crack of the old wooden door. The cobwebs that covered the small hole obstructed him. He slowly removed them with his hands and tried to maintain his focus. He was NOT supposed to have woken up this late!

Clearly there was no way of escaping without exposing himself and getting the girl into trouble. He turned around to find her staring at him with terrified puppy eyes. She was going to be in deep trouble. Soon, her aunt might want to get something from the hut they were in and find this boy inside. She didn’t even want to imagine what would happen to them. Tlotlo was beside herself with anxiety.

Gaolatlhe returned his gaze to the small compound in front of the hut they were in. The family had already started filling up the compound for breakfast. The fire had already been started and a kettle for tea was placed on top of a ‘letshego’. A typical Setswana family breakfast ritual!

 With the corner of his eye, Gaolatlhe spotted the Rooibos, five Roses and Ricoffy next to where he laid with Tlotlo on the goat mat. Soon someone would open the door to get them and there would be nowhere for him to hide.

He was frustrated at himself. How could he wake up so late? He should have been more careful. Maybe he should not even have come here. If only he had not been too stubborn to listen to his friend’s advice. He thought about how his father would react if he found out about this. His father was a very strict  traditional man who did not take nonsense from anyone. The very thought of that man angry brought shivers up his spine.

Lust had led him astray! He was satisfied last night but now he wondered if it was all worth the trouble... 

It felt like it was just yesterday when he had gone to the river with friends to swim and admire the girls. Tlotlo had passed by and his eyes had swallowed her. Never in his life had he seen a girl that lovely. She was voluptuous and proud with striking ebony looks. His fast beating heart forced him to leave the boys and follow her till she was alone. He liked the way she balanced the water-filled bucket on her head while walking straight. He liked the way she kept ignoring him while he spoke to her. Oblivious to his charms, unlike the others who fell for him at first glance. He was a handsome young man and he knew it. His lean torso and dark skin were his best features or so he was told.  

That was the day he fell in love for the first time!

 

Thoughts of his father always left him feeling confused, he didn’t understand him. Rra-Mpho was a cold man who did not believe in showing emotions to his family, let alone the world. He had married off his first-born child Mpho, when she was just 15.

The bride price had been 5 heads of cattle. In those years, this was a very expensive form of magadi (Bride price). Born in a community that treasured livestock and arable farming, Rra-Mpho had taken care of the cattle and made sure that they multiplied.

His late wife, mother to both Mpho and Gaolatlhe had died at child birth when Gaolatlhe had just entered the world.

The children had grown up without knowing the love of a mother. Rra-Mpho had never married again. He was one of the lucky few who managed to fall in love with their spouses even though they lived in an era of arranged marriages.

When she died, he was heart-broken; he lived for the sake of her children. He worked hard to provide for them. The only thing he deprived them of was love. He would not allow himself to love again.

Neither one of his children ever wanted to disappoint him or make him angry, they had learnt to abide by all the rules he had set in order to keep the peace.

 

As he wiped the sweat off his forehead, Gaolatlhe remembered that barely three weeks ago, the uncles and other important relatives had been at his father’s yard.’ Moono wa kgang e le gore Gaolatlhe o batlelwa mosadi.

They had found a suitable young woman from a good family in Dandane ward called Temogo. She was a Z.C.C church follower and her father was a respected man in the society. She was one of nine girls in her family. The gossip around the village was that all her father’s wealth came from the magadi paid to marry off his daughters. He treated them like a business venture.

In those days, many children especially girls represented wealth. Temogo was not particularly good looking but she had the body of a well-built African woman, a quality that a lot of men admired.

 

Gaolatlhe had been called and informed that in about two weeks, the family would go and ask for her hand in marriage. He could not do anything to jeopardize the peace between him and the family. He had no choice but to conform even though he knew deep down inside that he did not want to marry a stranger.

Gaolatlhe was not used to settling down. He had wooed a lot of girls in his lifetime. He blamed it all on growing up without a mother and living with a man like his father. He often wondered if there were others like him who went around breaking hearts because they had been deprived of love in their childhood.

He wanted to live life like Casanova!

He could not imagine himself being married to one woman and having children. He thought children were needy beings bought to earth to torture and annoy.

Even though he felt this way, Gaolatlhe did not have the courage to disobey his father and the Uncles. He lived in a community that was deeply rooted in it’s culture. He had to do as he was told.

 

Meeting Tlotlo that day had changed his perspective of love and life in a way he didn’t think was possible. In his eyes, she was perfect. He had to have her. Even if it was just for one day, his mind would not rest if he didn’t.

Although he could not stop thinking about her, his friends feared for him. Everyone in the village knew Tlotlo’s family.

Her father was an enigmatic figure in the community. They said he accumulated his wealth by selling women and children’s body parts. They said he knew all the great witchdoctors in the land. Every time someone went missing in the village, they knew he had something to do with it even though they could never prove it. Women and girls were warned against walking alone at night. Parents would tell their naughty kids that he was coming to get them if they didn’t behave.

“Didimala, eseng jalo Raletheka o etla” Keep quiet, otherwise Raletheka is coming to get you 

Her brothers were the most feared in the village. No boy ever went near Tlotlo for fear of losing his life. Rumor had it that a boy once called Thabo was now called Two-Fingers because the brothers had cut 3 of his fingers and he now had 2 left. This was after they found out that he had tried to make advances on Tlotlo. One other unlucky boy, Apula was now called One-Eye. The brothers had pressed hot wire into his right eye after beating him to a pulp. They believed no one had the right to even stare at their youngest sister. All these stories did not scare Gaolatlhe. He had been doing this for ages; he knew how to be discreet and he had never been caught until today...

 

There was a lot at stake so he had always been extra cautious, this was not his first time at Tlotlo’s hut. In fact, this was his third time! The third time’s the charm they said. The irony!

 

Now as he stood rigid, drenched in sweat peeping through the tiny hole, he wished he could take it all back.

Women! eish these people are nothing but trouble.

As if that was not enough, he saw the brothers enter the compound. It was as if everything was happening in slow motion. Suddenly his life flashed before his eyes. Why did he disobey his father? Why did he go to the river that day? Why did he have to chase her?

 

In all honesty, at that very moment, his father’s wrath was the last thing on his mind. The thought of losing his body parts nearly made him faint. He shook his head and tried to concentrate, there was no time for weakness. He had to think like a man and act fast.

He mentally ran through his options and discarded each one until there was only one thing left that he could do. He mapped out and calculated a path with the little he could see. If there was any chance of survival, once he implemented his plan, they would never see him coming.

 

If all went well they would not even see his face.

In an adrenaline-fueled instant, he bolted through the door like a spit fire. On the run for his life he had knocked off the kettle from the fire. He didn’t even feel the hot water on his legs.

Leaving behind a flabbergasted family, he ran as fast as his lazy legs could carry him.

They say one should never look back at their opponents when they are in a running competition, clearly Gaolatlhe did not get that Memo.

He saw the dust first before he could see that the two brothers were coming for him.

” Ga a batla go bona ngwana wa mosimane! A ntsha ga tshwene.”

He knew he would never be able to outrun the brothers, who were fast covering ground but that did not worry him.

The plan was to make it home safely because they would not dare enter his father’s yard…unless they wanted to be lashed in front of the whole village at the Kgotla (ward).

As he approached his father’s yard, Gaolatlhe could not believe his luck. The amount of relief was incomparable to anything he had ever felt before. He was proud of himself. He had done what no man in the village had done and gotten away with it. He was a man among men.

Even as he was running for his life, he could not help but day dream about Tlotlo.

And then he fell…His father had always taught him to watch where he was going, observe and be careful of his surroundings. He never listened and today more than any other day, he wished he had.

If he had listened to his father, he would have seen the tree stump that triggered the fall and avoided it. How could he forget that he had cut down the old tree in front of their yard just the other day.

Too late for regrets he supposed.

As the brothers descended upon him he had only one thing ran through his mind. There is already a Two-fingers and One-Eye! What is his new name going to be!

 

 

 

 


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