Late Saturday night, the 7th of August, I am trying to express myself in a poem, as I like to when I am in a situation. Usually, expressing myself in a poem helps me to see a way forward, but now I am in difficulty. For this poem I had the last line before I could even title it. Long before I picked up a pen, the last line was going round and round in my mind, like a computer screensaver, and so I wrote it first at the bottom of the page:
I now pronounce myself deflowered
This line came, it just came, but now I am trying to think what I can call this verse. What title can I give this verse about me? “Mokgethi”?
Yes, Mokgethi is my name, so why not call it “Mokgethi”?
No. Mokgethi is my name, but the poem is about part of Mokgethi. Mokgethi is a me that I came to know and understand and there is still a future Mokgethi that I do not know, do not understand as yet. But this verse has a last line – it is already complete before it even started. Mokgethi still has a way to go before she can come to an end.
What about “Mokgethi at Seventeen”?
Good but not making it.
“How I Lost My Virginity.”
Hmm… That is too blunt and degrading.
“A Woman Alone”?
There is a book called A Woman Alone.
What about “A Girl Alone”?
“One Saturday Afternoon”?
“Saturday the Seventeenth of August”?
No, that does not sum it up.
After much thinking and wasting time, trying to come up with a suitable title for this verse, I resort to calling it “Untitled” and write Untitled at the top of the page:
“Untitled” because I don’t know what to call this verse about me. “Untitled” because even though I knew that it was coming, I didn’t expect it to be this way. “Untitled” because it has elements that I do not know properly yet, elements that scare me because I do not know what the Mokgethi of tomorrow is going to be like.
The future has always been scary but I always thought that if I planned ahead, well… Now I know that you cannot plan for the future and, as I have come to experience, you cannot expect it to be the way you want it to be.
“Untitled” because I fear the coming Mokgethi, for I don’t know what she will become. Because this new Mokgethi has not been defined yet and Mokgethi was comfortable – happy, even – with being Mokgethi before sixteen hundred today. Though physically this Mokgethi and that Mokgethi are one and the same, they will be very different in character. I do not know how much the character of the Mokgethi that I so loved being will remain with me after today. The difference between them is what scares me. I loved Mokgethi the innocent girl; she was upright and always ahead. Things didn’t concern her too much; she could listen when she needed to listen, laugh when laughter was the thing required. She could try to give comfort when it was needed and she could be amazed when something was amazing.
The old Mokgethi was time conscious; she respected time most of all. Though there were a few things in her life that were difficult for her to say out loud – things she couldn’t really understand – she understood all the important aspects of life. She had goals, dreams and a vision. The old Mokgethi was happy with herself and if she had been granted one wish, she would have wished to remain Mokgethi the virgin. Why? Because I have seen all the girls that I know lose themselves, thinking that they understand their lives but only understanding the surface. They all blur into one. Once a girl loses her innocence, it becomes “My man this… My man that… ” They start identifying themselves with their man and judging themselves through the eyes of the men. Then they start to fight and quarrel over what they think are the best men available. At the end of it all one is left with a fatherless child and the realisation that you have wasted your time. Hating all men because they have failed to find the right, the best man for themselves. They are on welfare, looking at “My man this… My man that… ” from a very different angle. But they cannot start over again. They are caught in the tide.
I am writing this verse to try to understand the coming Mokgethi. Trying to find a way for her to live comfortably with herself. She will have to enjoy being this Mokgethi first, just as the murdered Mokgethi enjoyed being Mokgethi…