Author finds strength in tragedy

2018-11-22 06:02
From the left; Author Kholiwe Ntantiso, book editor Sipho Kekezwa, projects coordinator Zanele Nikani, and Khuselwa Ntantiso

From the left; Author Kholiwe Ntantiso, book editor Sipho Kekezwa, projects coordinator Zanele Nikani, and Khuselwa Ntantiso

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“iNgontsi”, according to those in the know, is “a secret place where one has to perform his/her prayers,”,

I have as yet to hear a “he” person saying they went into their ‘ngontsi’ to perform such supplications, though.

But this seemingly hallowed place, is a spiritual domain of visitation, whenever one is in the physical realm of tragedies.

Located somewhere ‘secret’ in the house, it seems to offer a space of intense solitude to a woman, whenever the need arises for her to communicate with the Creator, in the event of being confronted with life’s vicissitudes.

One such person who sought answers to her multitude of challenges in the ‘ingontsi’ is ex-teacher Kholiwe Ntantiso, who revealed all during the launch of her book this past weekend. Hero of my past.

The launch was held at her former school, Siyazingisa, in Gugulethu, where she spent about 33 years as an educator.

This is where she started and ended her teaching career, during which time she also gave birth to her brood and where it all happened; the good, the bad and the ugly- in under three decades.

The mother of four- the latter being twins- seemed to have had it all- beautiful kids, a middle-class existence, with all its trappings- until tragedy struck, according to her account.

Her second born, a girl, was inflicted with epilepsy, and then went on to commit two suicide attempts in her young life- devouring copious amounts of tablets. The second, but failed attempt was so severe she had to learn how to walk again.

As if that was not enough, a car she had bought was written-off within a month. This, though, she regards as minor incident to what was to happen next.

On a spoiling trip to the Waterfront for her academically acute kids, the twin daughter, in her unbridled childhood naivety, ran across a busy Sea Point street, was hit by a car in high speed, and was flung in the air for about 60 metres before landing with a thud.

A ‘thud’ only a mother can hear, even at that distance. The girl was twisted beyond recognition, spewing blood from all her upper orifices, including the ears.

Although she eventually survived the ordeal, it was not without the doubts that usually come in the aftermath of such tragedies.

This is the basis of the book; resilience, the thickness of the skin in such circumstances, but, above all, Faith.

It is a story well told, especially if one considers what hand fate could have dealt ‘Miss Ntantiso’, if the accident had taken place in her own backyard of Gugulethu, a spectre too ghastly to contemplate, she says in the book.

The book also details her background, coming from the Eastern Cape, a good upbringing by her grandparents, who she always believed to be her biological parents, an eventual meeting with her real mother, and later, her father. Sibling rivalry. The struggle to survive, vending offal in the streets or house-to-house. Her mother’s resolve to educate them despite the odds. The book is not altogether a new story, but a novel experience, and that is where the author’s strength lies, telling an old narrative in a completely new accent. Hero of my past is available from the author: 0711122718


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