Life never chooses when to start nor stop. It goes on and halts just when no one is watching. It tells you there is a solid ground beneath your feet and the next minute, you are sinking in your own carelessness. A faint instinct tells you to beat your chest with a braggadocio of ‘no regrets!’ but somehow, your hand freezes in the air. It sees through your ribs, the weight of the shame you inherited, growing at the expense of your dying breath.
I see it clearly in the darkness, as it strangles his neck into dark scattered wrinkles. He is breathing heavily but not so fast. I hear the heavy tick of each second parting his next breath. Each pause, comes with a sniffing silence that closes the distance between him and breathlessness. Staring at him now, gradually being stolen by the distance to eternity, no nostalgia of his agile days could beckon out to him, make him turn to the widening distance between us and look at me. If it were possible to have him turn, I am sure tears of regret would line down every trace of his wrinkled face, consumed by an endless queue of choices he would have made otherwise.
The cocks are crowing already and he has been lying down in front of me since the chimes on the clock jingled 12 A.M. Faced up, his legs spread apart on the dusty mat almost loosed to shreds. The horizontal lines appear slacked from their fittings. Only the vertical lines stretched, so that, the mat’s length is still noticed.
He raises his head slowly to see my dark image buried in the night. ‘You don’t have to say it out, it is all over now.’ I broke out courageously and nodding my head in conformity, all in a bid to man up a little hope in him. He must not know my tears betray me too. Fruitless as this proved, my heavy sniveling punctuated the silence that filled the dark room. ‘Dear Lord! Vuli Ndlela,’ let him rest, I whispered, splashing out little drops of tears that now lingered on my lips.
Alpha E. Y. 2018