Friday, July 26, 2013

Sound tracks from Chiwoniso Maraire

People I know don't die. That was me. Just about five years ago. But people die all the time. I just couldn't think of people in my family. Dying. I mean who? Then on 20 February 2010, my grandmother died. Like, yes, she died. She has been dead for three years now. The most important person in my life had died. At least that's how it felt then. Perhaps it still does. And I started dying. Slowly. Inside. My therapy sessions intensified. I went on to psychiatric medication. I got lost in my world. I became dead to life. A part of me is dead. With my grandmother.

Oh shit! For a year, I lived in fear of losing someone else. But I knew no one else in my family was going to die. I thought of all of them. From my eldest uncle to youngest nephew. No, they can't die. At least grandma was old. Old people die. Eventually. But then on 22 April 2012, my uncle died. Just like that. Then I lost it. I developed a death pattern in my head. Scary as shit. People in my family die between January and April in alternate years. Many years ago, my grandfather had died. 1 March 1992. My now-dead uncle's wife is dead. 28 January 2007. But that is it. These were unusual deaths and I had come to terms with the fact that sometimes a person dies, then another, after many years. At least in my family.

14 April 2013 my aunt died. See? January- April. But this time a year wasn't over. Again, I went back to that most-important-person-in-my-life feeling. I have not found reason for her death yet. And I don't buy 'we loved you but God loved you most' style of erasing grief. I cry when I think of her. She was my grandmother's gift to me. My grandmother told me, two months before she died, that I should take care of my aunt. I wanted to. I didn't get a chance. But in my dreams I have communed with her. We have been talking. She is fine but I don't know if I trust her. 

So, when people die in succession, you are forced to relive a certain kind of trauma. My friend died last week. I do not know how to think of her in isolation. I do not know how to see one death as unrelated to all the deaths in my life. The pain feels equally excruciating. The pain always feels recent. That all too familiar fear. Who next? Where do souls really go to when people die? Forget all the mythologizing about purgatory and all. Where do these souls go? Are they safe? Lonely? What exactly happens? When people die.

This fear is regardless of whether it's people you know that die or whether it's that perfect stranger with whom you become intimate. This familiar stranger with whom you've connected with through say art, politics, music, mutual suffering, proximity, whatever. Then the stranger dies. And you are back to that feeling. You are back to connecting so many deaths that your heart breaks with every recounting. Chiwoniso Maraire is dead. And yes, I am in pain. I wonder if she is fine. It doesn't matter that she is so many things to so many people but she is Chiwoniso Maraire, a soul sister, a gift, a traveller who has travelled onto the other side. She is dead and a part of me has died. With her. Because death has chosen to destabilize my centre. I have died so many times in this life with death. I fear. Mwari vaita kuda kwavo .

Thursday, July 18, 2013



last night i was in the ring with god
and still am

Wishful Thinking

i want to hold you even in a dream
 i want to wake up with my hand shaking your heart
My thigh reaching for the place
between which your thighs meet
i want to hold you
Run away with you

if  the gods asked me what i wanted, that's what i'd say 
i want to listen to the silence in your snores
the loud silence of your dreams
i want to walk in the traces of your subconscious
                                                                  dreaming with you

A Girl Called Kathy is Dead

"It is ok luv am here its fun"
July 6th two thousand and thirteen
In a series of texts between you and I

But let's rewind
The time is around seventeen after nine
The Place? Club Envy, Tom Mboya Street

But Kathy your curiousity
About me is a thing familiar to my body
My nipples have learnt to tuck themselves in

And the composition of things
In my pants doesn't know what exactly to do
When spaces question my biology

But your kind of questioning
Has a genuine curiosity that I will indulge
0727 16... number saved

I am not sure what we have become
By our fifth night of hanging
And you are Kathy Envy in my contacts' list

Secrets we've sworn never to tell
Emotional intimacies with a lustful lining
We know the love in our talk so

But let's take risks Kathy
In ways that we all always have
Tell me about your latest shag friend

Let's press Fast Forward Kathy
Our audience has that all too familiar curiosity
And we needn't keep them here

July Seventeenth eight fifty-one
"Sorry the mobile subscriber cannot be reached"
Answer your phone Kathy, damn it!

Formalin doesn't smell like a scent you'd wear
For six nights you have been in this
Including the weekend, who knew Kathy?

And I sit here calling Kathy Envy
She will tell me about her death I know
She's been mad with me before