Untimely Beginnings, by Nandi Mjo Manentsa
The book is a collection of 18 deeply personal essays from South African women who were younger than 50 years old, when their husbands died. They were in their prime years, not expecting loss so soon, hence the term “Untimely Beginnings.”
These are heartfelt narratives told with honesty and clarity of mind years after all the stories chronicle the women’s journeys with death, grief and grieving and navigating life on their own with children and the process of reliving their lives as single women and single mothers. The compiler, Nandi Manentsa, got widowed six months before her 30th birthday.
The essays include women who lost husbands through illness, car accidents, apartheid police brutality and suicide.
Narrating their lived experiences, these women felt that the process was deeper, unburdening and liberating. Widows are seen, but not heard. The essays are about:
- Honouring their husbands,
- Giving ordinary women who may have been silenced by societal norms a voice.
- Healing a grief-stricken woman, who might feel the world has just closed on them, transition from brokenness to purposed.
- Most of all, the book is about telling our own stories, ourselves.