Tributes in Paradise

It is said that we speak and see the dead when we are close to our death. We can touch them without anyone seeing. We can hear and feel them without anyone noticing. The educated ones call this hallucination. The traditional ones call this a deep connection with the dead. But it is a paradise before the uncertainty of the afterlife. It is the clearness of the blue-blue waters, the white sand, and white cloaks. It the face of your young beautiful wife that reminds you of your youth– the vanilla skin, the heavy arms and her bewitching smile and of course, her beautiful-angered-happy laughter. Therein, you’re much more alive before you are dead.

You begin to laud your youngest daughter. She reminds you of your wife after all– how she wakes up before you, to put your rooibos tea by your bedside. The way in which she prepares morogo wa thepe and bogobe ba ting. Or the way her skin crawls when she sees any kind of filth. Her bickering makes you happy and at times it angers you. It reminds you of the taste of death you want to feel– to lay down next to your wife like you used before old age wiped away your youth and took her away.

You laud her with your anger. She is beautiful, isn’t she– her freckled face so pure and loving. Her hunched back so strong and stern– bearing all the pain of your insults on her back. She is the one you love the most and hate the most. The one you tell secrets; like Abraham to Isaac, only unfortunate because she never seemed like the rightful heir in the eyes of your other children. She is the one whom you were warned that she was not yours. You wondered how a child so courageous just like you could not be yours. Of course, her skin never matched yours: your darkness absorbed the sun and hers was a skin so light that even the slightest tap on the shoulder reddens her. But she was all yours in nature and character. Her determination and hard work. Her welcoming laughter and wide smile. Her willingness to put others before herself. The one whom your mother moved the heavens for when you could not even give her the soil of the earth. She carries neglect and void in her spirit. 

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