By Sue Nyakubaya-Nhevera
I walk with my head down, my mind that had started out counting potholes in this riddled ghetto road is now somewhere far away. I am back there, to that day. I can hear the drums playing in the far distance, the smell of smoke in Gogo’s round hut and how the tears are flowing down my cheeks evoked by the smoke. That darn smoke! Of course I wouldn’t say that in front of anyone or else.
“Itai, get out of the road! You are not a car!” My friend Saru is screaming. I get out of the way just in time for a car to speed past me, missing me by a few inches. Saru makes her way to me yelling about how my absent-mindedness will get me killed one day. We take a sit on one of the drainage bridges on the corner of the street. I can hear her, somewhere in the background but I am back there again.
The tears are getting hotter and hotter, my cheeks are on fire. It feels like a cat is clawing on them. I know it is from the pain inside. With each tear drop, reality strikes. He really is gone. They seem not know I was there. I saw it. I knew.
“Itai are you even listening to me?” Saru sounds irritated. “Have I been talking to myself this whole time?”
I really don’t have the energy for her, but her presence is comforting. “Saru, can we just sit and be silent?” I don’t want to tell her that six years later I am still grieving, that it still feels like yesterday.
Each time a drum plays, each time I smell smoke I go back to that day. I can hear the wheezing….
The room is dark I can hardly see. Its only illumination is the dull paraffin lamp flickering on the window sill. On the floor my little brother lies on Gogo’s lap. He was fine in the afternoon. We played and went herding. But when we came back for lunch in the late afternoon, he screamed and then went quiet. The next thing I saw was his mouth foaming, followed by fits. Now he is looking lifeless on Gogo’s lap. You have to be listening really closely to hear him breathe.
“Itai, I know you won’t talk about it but is it Jabu?”
Here we go again, Saru knows I don’t like talking about it. I don’t even know if I should reply her.
It took one more fit and he was gone. We were laughing a few hours before and then he was gone!
As a child you are always on the peripheral of funerals. Always being told to go and play. They did not know I was behind the door but I heard Gogo’s neighbor say my father did this so he could make more money. They say whatever rituals must have needed a boy. I was lucky. Had I been a boy I would have been the one to go.
Never did I grieve, nor was I spoken to or comforted. Today I still grieve. Tears still find their way down my cheeks, they still seep through. Especially when I hear the drums. It doesn’t go away but it supposedly gets easier with time.
Sue is an awesome blogger, poet, writer, a wife and most importantly, mother. She blogs at: https://kintsugionline.wordpress.com/