I have no recollection how we got Fifi boxed in that afternoon. It was raining lightly and as the raindrops dews splattered gently besides the drain furrow, moistening the soil and collecting into streams around us to flowing into the furrow where our tussle was underway as our figures wrestled that of Fifi. Three against one. The power of memory is able to jolt scenes into stark relief without their sources except the impressions left behind by byways that lead us there time and again for a lifetime.
Balanced by our senses the scenes are enacted whenever an expected trigger peers at us. I am led towards one of my own stark relieved memorabilian scenes by something higher than a peering trigger; perhaps a looming jolter. I am led here, to the Fifi episode by loss. Fifi the bully was brought down that wet afternoon by Bok our cousin brother, Bok our blood brother, Bok our inevitable mentor. Dare to touch us and the short, stout and fierce Bok with a southpaw hook would come on you relentlessly until you are settled. That’s the pride that gushed through our stick bodies that afternoon when we were done with Fifi and the rays of a dying sun rimly tore the grey curtained clouds as the blanket of dusk gently wrapped Ga-Rankuwa bidding that day goodbye.
But the rays of the sun on that wet afternoon can’t compare with those of that afternoon we were sent to buy cool drink at the shops, you in your school uniform with a white gleaming short sleeve shirt and I in civvies. As we walked home the sole of one of my feet was accidentally cut by a stray broken glass. As blood gushed out your brotherly love overcame you my big brother to take off your white brimming shirt and gently dressed my sole to stop the profuse bleeding. You then put me on your back and carried me home. I do not know how the cool drink reached home but your heroics poured all over as my mother, your aunt, showered you with gratefulness.
Now you are gone, smote out and extinguished by time. How painfully it has been over the years to see you weather away by a chronic illness. To see you reduced to a shadow of a stout powerful Bok we grew up knowing and admiring. Your prowess became stuff of legends as the sap flowed out and sympathy flowed in. Your eyes glowed with that knowing glint that whispers ‘what are you talking about, I was there and I have ran my course even if you wish I could stay a bit longer.’
It is heartbreaking to see a strong man’s life cut short by life’s consequences. As much as it is a consolation to exclaim that it is the consequences that maketh man, that maketh us, consequences are unfair. Yet they encircle us. It is doubly a defeatist enactment that our control in this universe is not entirely our own doing. Perhaps partly but not entirely are we in control. We are collaborators in the movement we call life. Somewhere in there in the pain of acknowledging the small control we have in this universe there is a question embedded that begs the answer as to why are we here? Why do we have to go through this journey that is laden with pain exchanging places with pleasure wherein pain seem to last longer than pleasure?
This interchange between the two extreme moments in human life insinuates itself upon my mind as the raw material of existence otherwise how do we know that ‘we are’. This very thing, whatever we may choose to term it, is the fabric of life itself. Fair well grootman perhaps some of us will get to run life’s course a little while longer and when the day dawns that the empyrean claims us those left behind will weave tales about us as well and when we reach the ethereal we will get to tell you what happened next when you your self left your body behind.
*this jot is dedicated to my cousin Steffans Mbuzimbile Nkosi
Mmutle Arthur Kgokong 2016