*Soon passing out of sight, memory or existence
ΤΗΣ day I found friendship was the day Desmond and I were caught by surprise by a low flying airplane while playing on a mound of sand at my grandmother’s backyard one summer’s day. Having being forced earlier to drink castor oil by our mothers who happened to be affectionate friends, we messed our pants when we scurried away in a fright-flight away from the big iron monstrosity that streak-hovered passed us like a big gong bell.
On that light breeze shriveled morning that saw the upheaval that had our mother’s in a fit of laughter, our soldiers, in a campaign of dominance had squared up across the vast sand dunes that the sand mound had sprawled into, thanks to our constant playing on that disused construction utility, each was performing guerrilla tactics to oust the other in order to dominate the brown-reddish landscape. When each side had lost considerable foot soldiers we stood and looked at each other across the desert of possibility, this was only fair since the pain that we wanted to inflict upon each other was meant to be bearable enough for each side to pounce another attack once more, practically our impi was over. It was a diplomatic one anyway: the core stuff that keeps a friendship intact most of the time. This was a war of the outstretched imagination of pre-scholars. Then concrete reality seeped in. when the airplane flew above us we were left in goo and tears as we thought something terrible was going to knock the living daylight out of us; crying, each took to his mother in the kitchen. This was a story that our mothers were to recount over and over in years to come when they reminisced about the past. Unfortunately Desmond would not be there to hear this nostalgia brewed tale when the occasioned seeped in as his mother would find herself visiting my own or my mother visiting his and the two would recount that black and white washed out day. There was something about my friendship to Desmond that mirrored our mothers’ relationship. It was as if the friendship of their children was an extension of their own. Looking back today at that first friendship that I experience I have come full circle of what was the reason the two would now and then go through the trail of nostalgia and its distorted events because therein memory gains traction, there is a high that one get from a good memory down nostalgia route. These reminiscences, in hindsight I admit, were a way to give Desmond a life once again, to make his image, his form to come alive once more, even if it was for a brief moment. Someone on the spring of ’81 pushed Desmond into our local swimming pool unawares and he drowned. It only registered when I started school a few years later what death meant.
These reminiscences, in hindsight I admit, were a way to give Desmond a life once again, to make his image, his form to come alive once more, even if it was for a brief moment. Someone on the spring of ’81 pushed Desmond into our local swimming pool unawares and he drowned. It only registered when I started school a few years later what death meant.
ΤΗΣ day I lost a friend again was more than a decade later on an unassuming day when I lost my temper when a friend poked fun at me and for a moment I was betrayed by feelings of insecurity and beat them up. Over the coming months whenever we met we would look at each other with mitigated hatred, remotely, with emptiness across a fading reason of what prompted that short fight. Years pressed on and I saw and accepted that what was once a formidable friendship could never be again. And as I went on to miss my lost friend I realized that times had changed and there was no way that I could gather the crumbs together and erect our friendship for class and privilege inserted itself between us as well. And as life’s conveyer belt whisked me away on my own precarious path my friend shrunk into a fond memory dent and I knew what it meant to be a friend. You leave room for loss.
The day I lost an affectionate friend, the closest to a big brother I never had, was the day a friend I had been working for fired me when I demanded more money and reminded me how fortunate I had been when we grew up to have had all the privileges of support and family and how I never thought I too will know poverty. If you lose a friend to class or status you get to understand how our society’s fabric is unassumingly dictated by loss and gain and as morbid as it sounds we stay in each other’s lives because there is something to be gained.
The nature of friendship today is that we make friends effortlessly without much work on our part, it pretentious. So pretentious it is that when, through social media, a friend exit your life. Nothing turns in your heart, you feel nothing, you may not be aware because they are sandwiched within a bloated number. The connection is hollow; the novelty is in the names and the volume of friends one has even though one has never met them personally. If they be ordinary, we peruse their bulk of photos shared via the net to construct a narrative behind these ‘friends’ of what they could be like. If they be celebrities the data spewed by the media of which we are constantly fed has already constructed enough of what kind of people our ‘friends’ could be. And we find our self readily accepting of who they aware. We are actually friends with some people for titbit sake of being updated with the myth they have constructed around themselves.
However if one finds themselves surrounded by a relationship that is real and endearing one is at the epicenter of love unconditional or what we have come to call friendship. We may suspect – that when it was invented, friendship was meant to be love without unreasonable expectations, but care that withdraws the minute it see itself overflowing to give space to those it honors. But most importantly a real constant presence besides US.
© Mmutle Arthur Kgokong 2014
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