Leave password field empty to keep your existing password!
Durban, South Africa
Xolisa is an extroverted interior designer from South Africa. Xolisa writes for the love of words and the therapeutic nature of expression. Just like interior design she believes that words design infinite worlds and realities. Xolisa has a keen interest in all facets of the Arts from the culinary arts to landscape design. She loves nothing more than bring hope and joy to those who read her stories and hopes they would be encouraged to face the day with more courage and zeal.
Caves are an open invitation from earth to venture deeper, to get to know her better. It is an invitation to discover the source of the nourishment we enjoy on the surface. But somebody should have warned me that mother nature had a hip circumference requirement. Someone should have told me before I became stuck and turned into fossil to be displayed in the Cradle of Humankind. Or perhaps it was her ploy to turn me into a fossil for generations to see. While going down into the caves, they mischievously open their arms to you. The cave mouth welcomes you with every shade of brown, rock formations and contortions. Each visible layer appears to be a secret of a life lived. As you venture deeper into the caves, the magnificence of the dolomitic limestone stalactites and stalagmites leave you spellbound to the tightening arms of her cave walls that start to squeeze you. The hypnotic beauty of her hidden processes captivates you and soon you are on your stomach crawling and scooting on your bum under the strong embrace of her cave wall. The tour guide said to me, to ease the ever-increasing terror of getting lodged in the caves, “If your shoulders fit then you'll be fine.” He forgot about my hips. The terror that circulated in my body was stronger than the adrenaline of a double shot of espresso. First, to my head than to my body, rendering me weak in every joint. It seems that it's this very weak and limp body that would finally squeeze through the crevice almost as if she were saying “this is my domain your strength doesn't work here but my permission.” The intensity of the contrast between light and darkness amplifies the out of this world feeling that the caves create, as though for a time you had left earth as one of the first explorers of a new planet. A combination of natural and artificial light creates shadows of artwork against her cave walls and formations like the accentuation of the features of fine architecture. As you continue further, the path becomes darker and waivers in width with promises of more space and room to breathe. And as though it were sunlight breaking through a storm the lake inside the caves appears after what seemed like a long time of holding your breath, to make sure you sucked in your stomach and the pie you had just eaten, so you fit through the narrow passages. And as you take that much-awaited breath it feels like you are breathing in the majesty of the wonder of the crystal blue lake. The filter of natural light from above the lake through a slit in the ground above almost seems to highlight the lake. As though it were an actor in the spotlight to whom we owed a standing ovation for the performance he had just rendered or in our case for the beauty of the lake we've just beheld. Contemplation soon overwhelms you as you consider what your eyes are beholding and the majesty of how earth and time work together bending and moving around each other to create spaces that conjure such awe. The tour guide soon interrupts the deep thought with harsh realities. He explains that a diver who had come to explore the lake had gotten lost and was left behind by his friend who presumed him dead. He made it out of the lake but died from starvation hoping to be rescued. At that moment you realise that as beautiful as earth is she can be brutal, demanding respect and wisdom to navigate her ways. On my return home I reflected on the experience and concluded that I lack no respect for the mysteries of earth, and that my hips don't lie. The photo is not mine. Sourced from Pinterest
Right in the middle- dead centre- when the neighbourhood monkeys and our dogs make a truce, right there in the epicentre would be my garden. Right now, it's a wishful thought, expressed in deep sighs when I look at the exact area my garden would be. When I was growing up, I was raised by my two aunts while my mother worked in different towns. My mother had my sister and me when she was young, so we didn't spend much time with her as she had to go back to university and after that look for employment in 'the big city.' My whole family is from a village in the middle of almost nowhere. The village is 21 km from the closest main road and boasts a hospital, but it's dilapidated now. Time and modernisation have a way of doing that. Honestly, I often wonder why that hospital was built there in the first place as it is very far off the beaten path. By the way, the hospital is called Greenville Hospital, which is the same name as the village. That too is strange as all other communities have indigenous names, but here ours sits rebelliously alone as Greenville. My grandmother was a teacher in that hospital. I never met her, but I feel like I have because of the stories I've heard about her from family and complete strangers I've met over the years who knew her. Although she was a teacher, the village was big on cultivation and keeping livestock back then. Nowadays people have small gardens which provide enough for their personal supply. In my imagination, I picture a very lush and vibrant Greenville where you could not only literally feel the pulse of the people but see it too somehow. My mother and her siblings spent many days and all their school holidays in the fields. Grandma was not keen on friends as she said if you were bored, you either slept, found a house chore to do or went to the fields. When my family moved away from the village because of a family dispute (that's the polite way of putting it), my aunts brought the village along with them. As a child, doing the garden with my cousins felt like abuse as we often got hidings for not watering or weeding the garden. Now in my adult mind, it was never as terrible as it seemed back then. And to be honest, those hidings were not without cause. We would play imaginary 'Ching, Chong Cha' to decide whose turn it was to do the garden only to find that, in the presence of the ever-so-skinny stick that was about to taste the sweet essence of our juvenile butts, each one of us had deferred the responsibility to the other without communicating such. And my aunts were always politically correct, if we couldn't find the culprit, then we all got a hiding. You'd think we'd learn from the first offence, but no! Maybe we liked the rush, I don't know. Although the watering and weeding were not to my liking, I had no problems when it came to harvesting. I've always had a healthy appreciation for food. Jamie Oliver will forever be king of my chef's heart, way back then, when he was still 'The naked chef', and we watched what we called government tv that only had three channels. I never missed his cooking show and particularly enjoyed his 'Jamie at home' series with views of his thriving garden. Now in my adulthood, especially during quarantine, I have found many hours of solace in the vast array of cooking shows available. But more than the love of food I've always loved to watch things grow. Even though I wasn't taking care of our childhood garden, I did enjoy going every day to have a look at how things were changing and progressing, at how a plant might be changing colours, changing direction, getting bigger or multiplying. Since I've found YouTube time-lapse clips, I've been watching them as a sort of homage to my inner child and the wonder of a growing thing. There is a therapy that lies in how a plant changes contorts, twists and endures till it becomes what it was meant to be. Sometimes it's not always pretty, think of a curly carrot, it's not straight, but in its integrity, it is a carrot, perhaps a better carrot because it's a carrot that persevered, as curly as it is. Now that I'm old and trying to keep sane during this once in a lifetime pandemic, I miss those gardening sessions of my childhood. Our dogs Jess, Benji and Dusk won't let me flourish, and they refuse to let me relive my childhood along with the troop of neighbourhood monkeys. Our dogs chase them all over, often digging in some crazy 'calculation' that if they dig, they will catch them, I don't get it! Often this chasing and digging happens right in the area of my would-be garden. The monkeys with impatience and zeal often come and harvest before anything has properly taken root. I'm out of ideas, truly, of how to keep both parties happy just so that I might grow a cherry tomato. I don't think it's a lot to ask. So alas, my gardening dreams sit right there between the monkeys and the dogs.