Now I write this letter, bed-ridden and full of melancholy. Waiting upon the aid of nurses to come drain my liver, after years of excessive alcohol abuse. And I ask myself what I could’ve done to get you back. I question the kind of man that I am every day, more intensely so now, as I lie wasting away.
I lived my life after all that loss just wandering, drinking, merely existing … with sharp stabs of memory at the back of my mind of what I had lost. I fought to keep them at bay.
After the event of you and your mother being taken away from me, I regained the use of my feet, but they never quite set the same. I did odd jobs here and there, without finding anything permanent, throughout the 80s and early 90s.
Moreover, I could never go back home; I chose the life of a vagabond instead.
I wrote passionate letters to you and your mother, for the first three years after you were taken from me. To no avail; not a shred of response.
I only learned later of your mother’s marriage to a new man. In consequence, I fell onto hard times, and for some period, lived on the streets, from whence I picked up detrimental substance abuse habits. In trying to forget about my predicament with you and your mother, after that I got into a string of affairs.
Then I entered into a long-term partnership with a wonderful lady called Mrs Buyi, and she birthed me my baby boy, Mpho. I’d like you to meet him soon.
Although things ended between me and her, some civility is still in place. She sometimes comes to see me with your half-brother, who’s always eager to tell me stories about his daily life, seeking manly advice, which I so wish I could’ve catered to you too.
Why now do I pen a letter to you, after 26 odd years, you may ask? I don’t know. Perhaps it was Dingane, my late ward mate’s searing words that finally galvanized me. No, I’m definitely sure it was spurred by him.
“It’s never too late, Kamogelo, to reconnect with your loved ones back home. You’ll be revitalized anew with some borrowed strength and spirit against your ailment if they were here,” he said often. “You see, you see my broer. Only they could tolerate and carefully clean your mess, unlike some of these nurses out here.”
And I would shrug it all off, wincing in pain, clenching for some relief at the blankets, breathing in the church-cool air, while watching the visits for fellow patients.
“Don’t overlook the power of the warmth your family brings. There’s an alluring supercharge you know. One that no alcoholic beverage can ever give.” He’d then awkwardly burst into laughter mid-sentence.
It was on a cloudy, chilly, Sunday morning that I woke up to see his bed completely covered. And the tell-tale signs of the grim reaper’s visit were there. In subjugation to this sombre event, as when one domino knocks off the next in series, I knew I was next in line and had to get my house in order.
And that’s why I’m appealing to you. I need to just lay my eyes on you in person, without stalking from afar anymore. (Yes, I had to resort to subterfuge to find out you were about to be wed.) And I’d like you to meet and build familiarity with your teenage younger brother. And is there any better time to do it, than on one of your happiest days? Will you not invite him to you wedding?
Thus even my inevitable loss would be superseded by the grace of your wedding day, and new-found family bond.
I hope this letter finds you well. I wish with all my soul to see you before I die.
Tell us: Was Dingane right about never giving up on family bonds? Should Karabo welcome Kamogelo, and her half brother Mpho, into her life?