Thick dark smoke rose from the mountain side, its destruction was accepted for it signified the death of a boy and birth of a young man. From a distance, women could be heard ululating and beating old buckets and basins.

It was a beautiful day; the sun came out and brought life into everything. The sky was clear and blue, without a single cloud in sight. The young man covered in a white blanket’s walk slowed, surrounded by old men singing out of key at the top of their lungs. They sang joyful songs and family praises.

The young man’s mother, Nomonde, locked herself in one of the rooms. The noise and excitement proved too much for her. She gazed through the window watching ants drag a piece of meat. She envied their determination and strength, if she had a quarter of their strength, she would have revealed the truth about her soon by now. Tears rolled down her cheeks, her expression had a mixture of horror and happiness. She began to shake before she fell helplessly to the floor.

With her face against the floor, she let out a high pitched scream, she cried frantically like an animal caught in a trap. Something was eating her from the inside out, something only known to her. A burden she carried with no one to share it with.

The eruption of screams from outside, brought her tears to a standstill. She sat up, with her hands on her face, she screamed one last time. She got up, dried her tears, and walked out the door.

She watched her son along with the men enter the yard and head towards the kraal. Joyful songs and screams filled the air. She looked at the people around her, some filled with genuine happiness and some had alcohol-induced happiness. As tears started to fill her eyes again, she looked up at the sky and noticed a small dark cloud.

She soon forgot about it, she heard everyone around her burst into laughter. Uncle Themba was up to his crazy antics again. The gate was fully open, but he thought it would be a good idea to climb over the barbed wire. The sharp wire tore through his pants, he hung on the wire like a forgotten piece of clothing on a windy day.

After intense laughter and ridicule, two young men helped him down. She watched as her son sat down near the kraal, elders stood over him ready to give him words of wisdom. A wave of cold air hit her, she looked up, that small cloud she saw earlier had grown significantly. A storm was brewing.

At the corner of her eye, she saw her mom with a troubled look at her face. She walked up to her.

“This dark cloud has been following my son his entire life and will always live in its shadow. Free my child, mom, tell everyone about what your brother did to me. I died that night; it’s my son’s smile that has kept the flesh on my bones.”


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