Poems by Vonani Bila

Nuna va tekile

(Endzhaku ka hungu ro tsokombela hi manana, Fokisa N’wa-Mahatlani Maxele, loko va ndzi vhakacherile ePolokwane ku ta thetha ntukulu, Mhlahlandlela. Hi bula hi swihlawulekisi leswi mbindzimuxaka vukati)

 

U hlomuka kunene endlwini hi madina
Onge i nyoka yi twa nkele wu tlimbiwe hi mati.

Ku saseka Basani, na nhompfu ya wena yo yima
Ku njirimusa movha swo n’wi be
Kambe leswi ambariwaka i nhova.

Laha u etlelaka kona i xivala xa nguluve.
Ku lo pyi, u hlanganisiwa hi swirhangiso.
Ku mbvonga nhongana kamara ya kona,
Ko mbvee, onge ku lo fela mbeva.
Minkumba wo dzudza kunene ku hlantswa yona.

Yindlu yi dliva na le tilweni – i doroba.
Ku saseka yi sasekile. Nhundzu i mphesamphesa.
Kambe ku ta kukula mani Basani wa kona a nga hambanangiki na mubedwa?

Ku phela-pheriwa marhi muti hinkwavo,
Vana va kona i va rhwembu-rhwembu,
Swi ta dya yini nyini a ri lolo, a ri mampfokorho?

Ku teka kona ndzi tsandzekile,
U ta ku i nsati xi tsandzeka no hundzuluka?
Xi tsandzeka no tihlangula malanga?

Mutirhi u hi hlantswela na mintoriyana.
U songa tinguvu ha ha ri tipijameni.
Hi yena a hi fihlutaka hi kofi swixalu swa ha momele nomu.

Ku saseka swi pfuna yini xana Basani,
Hikuva xikandza xa wena i xikhumbha xa ngwenya,
Xi ntlokolanile na mati,
Na vanhu a va vhakachi hikokwalaho ka thyaka.

* * *

Lava songaka, va susa malanga, va ku fendlele be!
Nuna va tekile. Namuntlha u sele u khome tinsiva ta tuva.
Tshiketa ku rila.

Lavo hlamba va ku cacaa! Muongori baseleni!
Nuna va tekile. Namuntlha u sele u lo gabaa!
Tshiketa ku rila.

Lavo sweka swakudya swi ku nkhulee!
Ndzi ri nuna va tekile. Namuntlha u sele u tikhome xihlaya.
Tshiketa ku rila.

Ra vusiwana ndzi ri vekile. Wena a wa ha ba swingoro.
Mutirhi i muyimani. Mbilu ya mina yi kumile ku wisa.
Tshiketa ku rila.

Basani, nuna va tekile.
Hikuva wena wo hlomuka kunene onge i nyoka.
Vana lava hi nga tswala ndzi ta va phandhela.

 

They have taken me, your husband, away!

(After a juicy tale told by my mother, Fokisa N’wa-Mahatlani Maxele, during her visit to my apartment in Polokwane to see her grandchild, Mhlahlandlela. We talk about the qualities that destroy a marriage.)

 

You creep from your house late after the lunch hour,
Like a gasping snake trapped in a water-logged hole.

Oh Basani, but you are gorgeous, with a straightened nose,
Smart and sassy behind the wheel!
But you wear so gauchely – just weed!

Where you sleep is a pigsty,
A mess, underpants strewn, lining up to the door,
A fly roams and buzzes in the room.
A pungent smell kills my nose. Perhaps a rat died in here.
Huh, you just dust off blankets and your laundry is done.

Our mansion reaches to heavens – it’s a city!
Plush and elegant. There is a congestion of goods and furniture.
But who will sweep away filth while so-called Basani is hooked on the snooze?

You unashamedly spit and puke all over the yard,
Rash and rickets have covered our children,
What will they eat? Mummy is a lazy lector bagworm!

Though I wanted cultured wife, in you I’ve failed.
How can I call you a wife, when you can’t twist, shake and turn in bed?
You even fail to wipe that slimy-sticky liquid around your eyes.
You are just a lector bagworm.

Look, the maid even washes our underpants,
She makes the bed whilst we are still in pajamas.
Early in the morning, she daringly brings us coffee while the slimy saliva is still covering our mouths.

Basani, what’s the worth of prettiness
When your face is a crocodile hide?
It’s has fiercely fought against water,
And people no longer visit us because of filth.

* * *
Those who can make a bed, wipe sticky stuff from the eyes and wear perfume
They’ve taken me, your husband, away! Today you are only left holding feathers of a pigeon. Please don’t cry.

Those who bathe spotlessly with salts and herbs, oh angelic nurse!
They’ve taken me, your husband, away! Today your mouth is left ajar!
Please don’t cry.

Those who cook tasty and succulent food,
They’ve taken me, your husband, away! Today you’re left holding your jaw.
Please don’t cry.

Yes. I’ve proposed her, while you were utterly snoring.
Now the maid is expecting. My heart has found eternal peace.
Please don’t cry.

Oh Basani, they’ve taken me away
Because you stretch out, yawning, like a snake in bed.
But don’t worry, I will fend for the children that we made together.

Translated from the original Xitsonga by the author.

Poems by Vonani Bila

Nuna va tekile

 

(Endzhaku ka hungu ro tsokombela hi manana, Fokisa N’wa-Mahatlani Maxele, loko va ndzi vhakacherile ePolokwane ku ta thetha ntukulu, Mhlahlandlela. Hi bula hi swihlawulekisi leswi mbindzimuxaka vukati)

 

U hlomuka kunene endlwini hi madina

Onge i nyoka yi twa nkele wu tlimbiwe hi mati.

 

Ku saseka Basani, na nhompfu ya wena yo yima

Ku njirimusa movha swo n’wi be

Kambe leswi ambariwaka i nhova.

 

Laha u etlelaka kona i xivala xa nguluve.

Ku lo pyi, u hlanganisiwa hi swirhangiso.

Ku mbvonga nhongana kamara ya kona,

Ko mbvee, onge ku lo fela mbeva.

Minkumba wo dzudza kunene ku hlantswa yona.

 

Yindlu yi dliva na le tilweni – i doroba.

Ku saseka yi sasekile. Nhundzu i mphesamphesa.

Kambe ku ta kukula mani Basani wa kona a nga hambanangiki na mubedwa?

 

Ku phela-pheriwa marhi muti hinkwavo,

Vana va kona i va rhwembu-rhwembu,

Swi ta dya yini nyini a ri lolo, a ri mampfokorho?

 

Ku teka kona ndzi tsandzekile,

U ta ku i nsati xi tsandzeka no hundzuluka?

Xi tsandzeka no tihlangula malanga? 

 

Mutirhi u hi hlantswela na mintoriyana.

U songa tinguvu ha ha ri tipijameni.

Hi yena a hi fihlutaka hi kofi swixalu swa ha momele nomu.

 

Ku saseka swi pfuna yini xana Basani,

Hikuva xikandza xa wena i xikhumbha xa ngwenya,

Xi ntlokolanile na mati,

Na vanhu a va vhakachi hikokwalaho ka thyaka.

 

* * *

 

Lava songaka, va susa malanga, va ku fendlele be!

Nuna va tekile. Namuntlha u sele u khome tinsiva ta tuva.

Tshiketa ku rila.

 

Lavo hlamba va ku cacaa! Muongori baseleni!

Nuna va tekile. Namuntlha u sele u lo gabaa!

Tshiketa ku rila.

 

Lavo sweka swakudya swi ku nkhulee!

Ndzi ri nuna va tekile. Namuntlha u sele u tikhome xihlaya.

Tshiketa ku rila.

 

Ra vusiwana ndzi ri vekile. Wena a wa ha ba swingoro.

Mutirhi i muyimani. Mbilu ya mina yi kumile ku wisa.

Tshiketa ku rila.

 

Basani, nuna va tekile.

Hikuva wena wo hlomuka kunene onge i nyoka.

Vana lava hi nga tswala ndzi ta va phandhela.

 

 

 

 

They have taken me, your husband, away!

 

 

(After a juicy tale told by my mother, Fokisa N’wa-Mahatlani Maxele, during her visit to my apartment in Polokwane to see her grandchild, Mhlahlandlela. We talk about the qualities that destroy a marriage.)

 

You creep from your house late after the lunch hour,

Like a gasping snake trapped in a water-logged hole.

 

Oh Basani, but you are gorgeous, with a straightened nose,

Smart and sassy behind the wheel!

But you wear so gauchely – just weed!

 

Where you sleep is a pigsty,

A mess, underpants strewn, lining up to the door,

A fly roams and buzzes in the room.

A pungent smell kills my nose. Perhaps a rat died in here.

Huh, you just dust off blankets and your laundry is done.

 

Our mansion reaches to heavens – it’s a city!

Plush and elegant. There is a congestion of goods and furniture. 

But who will sweep away filth while so-called Basani is hooked on the snooze?

 

You unashamedly spit and puke all over the yard,

Rash and rickets have covered our children,

What will they eat? Mummy is a lazy lector bagworm!

 

Though I wanted cultured wife, in you I’ve failed.

How can I call you a wife, when you can’t twist, shake and turn in bed?

You even fail to wipe that slimy-sticky liquid around your eyes.

You are just a lector bagworm.

 

Look, the maid even washes our underpants,

She makes the bed whilst we are still in pajamas.

Early in the morning, she daringly brings us coffee while the slimy saliva is still covering our mouths.

 

Basani, what’s the worth of prettiness

When your face is a crocodile hide?

It’s has fiercely fought against water,

And people no longer visit us because of filth.

 

* * *

Those who can make a bed, wipe sticky stuff from the eyes and wear perfume

They’ve taken me, your husband, away! Today you are only left holding feathers of a pigeon. Please don’t cry.

 

Those who bathe spotlessly with salts and herbs, oh angelic nurse!

They’ve taken me, your husband, away! Today your mouth is left ajar!

Please don’t cry.

 

Those who cook tasty and succulent food,

They’ve taken me, your husband, away! Today you’re left holding your jaw.

Please don’t cry.

 

Yes. I’ve proposed her, while you were utterly snoring.

Now the maid is expecting. My heart has found eternal peace.

Please don’t cry.

 

Oh Basani, they’ve taken me away

Because you stretch out, yawning, like a snake in bed.

But don’t worry, I will fend for the children that we made together.

 

Translated from the original Xitsonga by the author.

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