An old kind of usual feeling of nostalgia hit his brain like a blizzard. He pulled his brown jacket closer to his ribs even though the sun was burning right above his head. He walked home from work in the afternoon during the middle of the summer. There was a young boy that passed him, running playfully with a soccer ball, he almost hit the man.
Right then a blurry corny photo came to his mind, it was one of the last photos of his baby boy. He was smiling, but from a distance; in his hands he held his mother’s Bible. The photo in his mind reminded him of the little moments he’d spent with his family. Times like that measured his life.
He continued to saunter the dry streets of Shawelo, helplessly trying to forget the vivid memory that had played out in his brain. Not even a rare condition of amnesia could eradicate the tiny bits of memories of his family.
He walked past a church, a crowed gathering in front of a singing choir. They composed with their lips a hip Christian upbeat hymn, jiving and clapping to it. That reminded him of his wife. She was very big on praising a God that he never saw deserving of all the attention he was getting from her. To him he was an unreal white man, possibly a fairy tale.
One time there was a retrenchment going on at his work. The night before the retrenchment was announced to most of his co-workers who have now dissolved into the city and diluted into its hip lifestyle and swollen by a life of lettuce and cucumbers, his wife had forced him to pray with her. She did most of the praying and it spared him the heartache of retrenchment that day.
He smiled thinking about it now, his fingers began twitching forcefully ushering in a memory of holding his wife. The ways she moved in the bedroom you’d forget that she was a church clerk. He’d always joke that if God ever caught them making love like that he’d disown her, and his darling would laugh off her lungs at the thought of it happening. Her mouth opening wide enough for him to see the spaces between her teeth. He got an erection. This time the old timer laughed a little, coughing in between that.
Zola passed by him, punching his torso as a sign of greeting, “Eita Sokhulu kuhambani!” called out Zola disappearing into a food stall.
Sokhulu stuck out his thumb too late for Zola to see it, so it was shunned by an absent response. How ironic for loneliness to follow him so much, everywhere.
Sokhulu stopped along the way to purchase a loaf of bread and a tin of baked beans. How he longed for a warm home cooked meal. His landlord Mme Bucie used to dish up for him until her husband rebuked it. He was unsure if there was more to it or not.
Sokhulu took a corner at Albert Sisulu street, lazily passed a few houses and fell into his own. Mme Bucie was watering her garden when Sokhulu entered the yard. He threw a wave at her and disappeared into his backroom. Mme Bucie stood struck surprised by the almost rude greeting, uncertain if Sokhulu was his usual self.
The sun on its mother’s back at last, as Sokhulu pulled open his shack’s door. The tin house was giving off extreme heat, retaliating from the day’s torture. He put his bag on the table, laid his jersey on top of it. He threw his meal on top of the pile and caught his breath to prevent a cough from popping up. He adds on the table thoughts of his day at work, how his cough almost got worse and almost threw him off work. But most high, thoughts of his family lured themselves in his mind from all corners. The bitter memories nestled there.
He remembered how his wife, Sofi, and his son, Khofi, burnt down to coal in their shack four years ago. He still remembers them even with a heart in pieces. On the night of the incident he arrived home to a crowd that had lost hope, a defeated crowd. Apparently they burnt in their sleep. Khofi left the prima stove on after making tea and falling asleep watching TV. The news of tragedy welcomed him straight to his face and in an instant his heart sank. It docked at his lowest. His world fell at his feet, he died with them.
At their funeral he was soaking reluctantly in a pool of tears, dying mysteriously in slow pain. Ever since he’d been a dead man alive. A lonely man bouncing from sickness and health alone, like his wedding vows meant nothing to his wife.
He soon got tired of aching his heart again.
He went to the fridge and opened it to pull out a cold one. Once sitting on his bed he popped it and took a mild sip. He felt a hard knock on his heart. It was pacing up, his lungs racing furiously. He breathed heavily with a tight grin on his face, forcing his breath to stay intact with his body. Right then a life thief crept into him, filling his body in total numbness arresting his heart. Sokhulu’s hands let go of the bottle of Hennessy, breaking as soon as it hit the floor. He let out his last breath. Death won over him. His soul sat on the bedside watching his body being eaten by termites. It waited for his family to come fetch it.
His body lay in the open for a few days before Mme Bucie noticed that he was gone, long gone.
Tell us: Do you have a memory that you keep recalling?