People were gathered near a body of a 23 year old Sibusiso that was hanging from a tree at kwaZakhele village, at midday on Tuesday. It was the very first incident of such to occur in the village. Those who had witnessed the course of Sibusiso’s death had said that he caught on spot his girlfriend sleeping with another man.
People of the village, including children that were still in their school uniform, were very shocked and traumatized in the sight of the incident. Small children though, were chased away by elders, avoiding them to view the corpse hanging from the big mango tree. After several minutes the ambulances, accompanied by the forensic personnel, arrived on the scene. Police vehicles arrived two minutes later. The statement was taken and the body was put in the forensic pathology van to be transported to mortuary. No one was arrested.
“That was shocking.” said a man randomly to no one in particular. He looked visibly traumatized. People scattered away slowly, others chatting about what had just happened while others were now laughing softly and teasing each other. Sabelo came towards the group of people who were now going home. He came, running.
“Who killed my brother?” he shouted, not directing his question to any particular person. No one answered.
“I said who killed my brother, why are you not answering me?”
One of the residents felt responsible for explaining to the angry Sabelo.
“Calm down, no one killed you brother.’
“That is nonsense, pure nonsense, you hear me? Don’t tell me to calm down but who killed my brother.” snapped Sabelo.
He looked inimical and furious. He and his brother looked so identical that you could even think they were twins.
“He committed suicide, nephew.” intervened his uncle who was among the crowd.
“How could my brother do that, no you are lying, uncle?’ shouted sabelo.
“He is not lying, your brother killed himself.” said a woman that was beside Sabelo’s uncle.
“Yes, he is!” persisted Sabelo, while looking at his uncle with tedious eyes.
“Don’t talk to elders like that, you bustard!” said his uncle in a sharp voice.
The residents who were mostly the neighbours and friends of the dead, stood still, listening to the quarreling relatives.
At the day of the funeral, among the mourners were men of the village who were singing with vigor after they drank few beers and umqombothi, the African home brewed beer. However, Akhona did not attend the funeral. How could she put her life in jeopardy and attend the funeral of his boyfriend who died because of her?
They were going to kill her and drag her body to the nearest bush; and celebrate her death. Of course, she betrayed her man that was loyal to her. Talking in front of the group of mourners was Sibusiso’s older sister, whose name was item number four on the agenda.
“Love is a dangerous game, if my brother wasn’t in a relationship with that hoe; I swear he wasn’t going to die like he did.” he was noticeably hurt. She looked at the mourners for a moment, then proceeded
“She played with his feelings, and the outcome of that was death. Here he is, lying inside this caske” she said while pointing at the casket in front of her.
A man that was amongst the drunken crowd at the back interrupted, ‘do you know anything about feelings my sister?’
Everyone turned and looked at him.
“What if I have feelings for you?” he said and laughed carelessly.
Few of the mourners laughed too, softly, trying to hide their laughter. Another man in black suit stood up and walked towards a drunken, immoral man. And escorted him outside of the red-and-blue tent. The service resumed. Sibusiso’s sister continued, ‘this is a lesson to all men out there, that when you choose a girlfriend you must take your time.’ Others were nodding in a sense of agreeing on what Nomsa, Sibusiso’s sister was saying.
“I know, that others will think my brother’s death has to do with witchcraft. It is very sad I know, but to point fingers at one another will not raise him from death. It will not bring him back to life, I will not vilify Akhona, but what she did to my brother was so evil.” She said while looking at the brownish casket that was supported by black chairs on either sides.
There was also a blanket laid on top of the casket. And that was done in believing that his spirit will use the blanket if in the spiritual world it’s even colder.
After all the talking, the Zion church choir was called in to come and sing and give worship. Everybody stood up, singing a song that everyone understood its lyrics. They sang: We give you all the glory, we worship you our Lord, and you are worthy to be praised. Among the choir was a girl that Sabelo kept on glancing now and then. She was chubby, light in complexion, and with very big beautiful eyes.
They were as white as snow. She was the leading vocalist though she looked shy and innocent. You could tell that she’s a kind lady just by looking at his body features, including her eyes. He fixated his eyes on a girl until it slipped his mind that that was his brother’s funeral. Then he felt a touch on his shoulder from behind. He turned only his head and looked back.
“Why are you not singing?” it was his father who asked the question. But Sabelo hardly heard his father and misinterpreted the question.
“No I didn’t see him.” Said Sabelo, thinking that his father asked if he has seen his uncle.
“No, I said why are you not singing?” Emphasized Sabelo’s father.
He did not know how to answer the question and opted to ignore his father, and keep looking at the girl. When he turned to look at the singing choir, the girl was not there. He felt sick. Where is she now? Where did she go? He asked himself and pretended as if he was singing by moving only his lips, imitating the mouth of a woman beside him. His eyes were now searching for the girl, meekly but with scrutiny.
He excused himself and went out of the tent hoping that he will see her wandering around the yard, or in the loo, he thought. He went in and out of the rooms, searching for her. He ignored the crying and singing that was occurring in the tent, and walked outside the gate for he thought perhaps she went to the nearest tuck-shop. Unfortunately, she was nowhere to be found. He started worrying and thinking and wondering. Then a gush of panic enveloped him when his phone rang. It was his father, he pressed the answer button.
“Where are you?” asked his father on the other end.
“In the toilet.” he lied.
“No, you are not there I just looked for you everywhere.”
Sabelo immediately felt guilty of lying to his father on this very day.
“We are about to go to the cemetery and you must be here too, now!” said his father, angrily.
“I will be there now, now.” he said running back home, then to the tent. He spotted a girl he had been looking for, sitting amongst the church of the Zion Apostolic Church of God (ZACG) that travelled all the way from kwaMashu to console and extend condolences to his family. On the way to the family graveyard where all his ancestors were buried, he made sure that he doesn’t lose her sight like he did when his father interrupted him earlier on.
The priest with a vivid shiny bald in a huge sophisticated church clothe, kept on singing louder and louder as if Jesus was just around the corner, ready to take him to the exquisite heaven. Sabelo was reminded of what his English teacher once said on the other day in class, that when you want to ask a girl out you must do that at the funeral, because she would be in a state of sympathy and won’t argue with you. He felt in love with a girl he had seen and now wanted to implement his teacher’s advice. But at the same time he did not want to degrade his dead brother’s dignity and that of his father by asking her out in front of mourners. He at least knew her name because he heard a woman call her to bring candles for her.
“Nomthandazo, will you please bring me those two white candles I’ve put on the table.” A woman had said. When the funeral was over, Sabelo went to the loo and spent several minute there, not doing any business but thinking of the proper words he will use to a beautiful lady.
When he came out of the loo there were no church members anymore. He asked his uncle who was now eating rice and beef with different salads.
“Uncle, where is everyone?”
His uncle put down the plate and finished swallowing food first.
“Who is everyone?”
“I mean…the church members?”
“Gone.” said his uncle who was sitting on the chair of the dining table.
“Where to?” asked Sabelo.
“Back to kwaMashu”
“But what, nephew?”
“No, never mind uncle.” he said, and ran to his bedroom, locked the door, threw himself on the bed, held the pillow against his face, and cried softly. He knew that chances were he wasn’t going to see her again for there would be no other funeral anytime soon. And that would be unbearable sore in his heart that will stay there, forever. Days went by, weeks went by, he searched for her on Facebook but didn’t know her surname and that made things worse.
Three months later, he took a pen and paper to write a letter to his crush. It was at night. He decided to write the letter that very moment and sent it via the post on the following day. Fortunately, he had managed to obtain the postal address of one of the church members. On his bed, as if the walls were watching, tears on his face were running, wetting the paper. He wrote
My name is Sabelo Gumede. Please make sure that when you get this letter you reply immediately. I once saw you at my brother’s funeral that was in September this year at kwaZakheni village. I wanted to speak to you on that day but I couldn’t in front of mourners who were elders. My eyes are longing to see your beautiful face again. Day by day I think of you, I can’t get you off my mind. To make a long story short, I felt in love with you. When you get this letter, do not ignore it. Even today, I still think of you.
He memorized the letter; reread it over and over again, silently. Wiping tears off his face then put it inside a pinkish envelope. He sealed the envelope, put it under the mattress and switched off the light.