I’ve written a poem about this but I never wrote about the actual story. So since this is the week of the 6th, the date of his departure, I thought I should write this.
The 5th of August was a day that had a surprise in store for my family and I (a sour surprise, that is). I remember having my uncle and mom fetching me from hostel in 2012 on a Friday night, as they were attending a relatives’ funeral at home – Limpopo, Turfloop. It was nice being home because my grandparents hadn’t seen the three of us in a long time; plus they were excited because my uncle had begun with his studies in electrical engineering.
I remember attending the funeral the next morning together with my family. And my grandmother’s hand layed upon my Malome’s hand, as she had a leg problem and needed support. He was so handsome, he gloated about his own smile.
That Sunday, we were attending an annual church event in a region called Manche Masemola. It’s a tradition we follow as Anglicans – we visit that place to celebrate the life of a late young lady named Manche Masemola. She was adamant about following Christ, even when her parents disagreed with her beliefs. My uncle, Mapholoba, did not go because he had chosen a different religious path – he was Islamic. So, since we had to return to life in Gauteng, we agreed that we would meet my uncle in town that Sunday after our church trip and would proceed from there.
My grandmother had bought him new sneakers that weekend and had given him some pocket money for the road. He and my mother dropped me at school and as I was about to walk to hostel, I felt a deep need for him to walk with me. But he was on the phone and I couldn’t interrupt him – so I ended up waving goodbye, not knowing that it was a wave of conclusion.
He and my mother drove off and she dropped him in Sunnyside, where he was going to meet a group of friends. She said she dropped him off in Sunnyside with an open heart, not knowing that she was walking him down the aisle towards death. Since then, he was quiet but life went on. That coming Wednesday, I was going home to my mother for a long weekend and had been pondering about my uncle in class throughout. As I took my seat in the bus, a heavy, sad feeling fell upon me. It was like all the sadness in the world had decided to gather inside my soul. I became angry at God because I knew him to be a God who brought joy.
My entire journey to Gauteng that afternoon was like paper, kissed by questions of why I suddenly felt so sad. My mother fetched me from the bus station and bought us pizza for dinner. As we were eating, she was complaining about Malome not answering his phone. We thought he was avoiding us – we were annoyed and concerned. Since my mother used to work for SAPS, she had a few contacts there, so she put them to good use by calling her former colleague to ask him to try and find my uncle, as my grandparents were worried that they couldn’t reach him. He agreed and called after some time, asking for my mother’s address as he had decided to come that night. Unfortunately, he was there to deliver the news – that my uncle’s body was found in Sunnyside, stabbed and butchered like an animal to be eaten.
I didn’t believe at first – I called his phone after I had found out the news but nobody answered, still. We went to the scene, and found blood on the plants where he lay and tissue which looked like it had been used to wipe off his blood. This was at Nelson Mandela Drive, Sunnyside. It was so terrifying to see all that – my grandfather eventually came and asked that we collect the plants and tissues that had his bloodstains. We then went to see him at a mortuary in Pretoria – as lifeless as he was, a smile sat upon his face.
I had to go back to school and all that had happened taught me that life does not wait for you to finish grieving – it simply goes on. I remember asking God to raise him from his grave and show everyone that it was all a joke. But it never happened. I had to accept that he was gone and it was going to take years.
The sad part was that at age 30, he had finally decided to start studying and do something better with his life; but because death found him so appealing, he only lasted 6 months in that college.
We buried him a week later and I still miss him, even today. I wrote this because I know that somebody can relate and is feeling broken because of losing a loved one. I knew there were families who had experienced similar situations – situations we see on television but never imagine would happen to us. To them I say, you are loved and it’s not the end of your happiness. There’s still joy, peace and healing waiting to embrace your soul.
I wish you better nights, happier thoughts and more hope for your future. Below is a poem I wrote in his memory:
As you walked down the aisle
That was death’s tongue
The only help left for you to ask was to be swallowed faster
For you were a train life chose to disembark
A name that flew out of life’s cage
Death was a bird, renovating her nest
And you were a twig best fit for that purpose
When your soul was about to say “I do” to mortality, nobody was there to object
And we now have to forever hold our piece
Our piece being to accept that
It was your turn
It was your face death had to unveil that day
Your turn to be the drink that death fervently sipped on
I can’t begin to utter what a task it was
To accept that you were a pair of earrings death was now wearing
That our enemies
Were pleased to see that death had finally put a ring on it
When grandma calls for us, your name refuses to leave the chair that is her voice
For you are a tap water ceased to flow from
Leaving her thirsty
The most recent picture your son has with you
Was taken at the graveyard
Where he gave you flowers that’ll never know your hands
And “I love you’s” that’ll never get to play in your ears
The last time I saw you
Your left eye was a bed disfigurement finally got to lie in
Your smile loudly waving goodbye
So now, we will forever hold on to our piece of accepting
That the land of the living no longer feeds from your smile
Nor can ears hug your voice
That the taste of your footsteps are now forgotten by the ground
Birthed in me violent questions to God
Rage towards Him for giving cruelty a chance to shine
I’m sorry to say that justice sounds like a fairy-tale
Our naive hearts believed