The Soldier and the Sangoma

Youth excites me. The youth in men. The youth in women. I cannot help for that. It is difficult for me to forget. Forget is all that I want to do. I have a forgiving heart but all it seems that heart, my heart wants to do is to remember. I have to hold onto the fact that all of life, human life, humanity, flora and fauna, the lost and found, foam at the shoreline is a gift. I wanted the sun to swallow me. I wanted to cut holes in the floor of the sun and peak into my neighbours’ attics. I did love him and I told him so in ways that he could see that I was speaking clearly to him. I love you but you are a monster. You are a liberal monster. You are a white monster. You are a rich monster. You are a well-educated monster. You are a monster who does not have the time of day for me anymore. I love you. Honestly, I do. I love you to death and it was another death in a succession of deaths. I love you but you are a jerk. I wanted to tell him that he did not belong to me anymore. This was years later. After nearly a decade had passed. He was an old man. I was a woman. Once we were lovers and he was all I could ever think about. Now he was just a human stain that I had to cover up with a scatter cushion. I began to write to him. I did not really give this thirst within me, this desire. I did not write to an address. I did not even have his telephone number. He had more children now. He had a different wife. I wonder how she looked. This beautiful television actor. Everybody on television was beautiful and sane. They did not know what the words mental illness meant. Recovery. Relapse. Posh clinics hidden away in suburbs filled with gated houses. Trees that spilled over into the streets. How I hoped that he was happy. I knew he was in a way. This made me mad. On the one hand, I wanted him to be unhappy with the way our relationship had turned out. This is what I have to say to you. I loved you for a very long time. You showed up and everything in my life was transformed, thus so was my imagination. Magic. Yes, that was what you were. Let me talk about the word ‘magic’. What it means to an orphaned child, a girl who is in search of love, and an older woman who has lost love as her looks as faded. Magic will transform all three just by bringing a smile to their face and their whole demeanour will change. They will know they have places to go now. The orphaned child will know that they need to get an education, be educated to get to where they want to be in the world. They have heard of FLOTUS, Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry. They know they can do anything they want. The time is now. Yesterday is yesterday. The past is past. They want to go to America. They want to have the American dream because it tastes as good as ice cream. Coming back to the man. The man who smiled gently at me with his light eyes. I wanted to fill his eyes that seemed so picturesque and filled with hunger at the same time with only things that would please him. Tea. I would ask him. Would you like some tea? Time would pass and we slowly began to think more and more of each other. I would look out of the window. See the more elaborate costumes that other women would wear. Armed with their perfume, their lipstick, their powder and their attire. The heels that they tottered about. I often longed to escape to the places that he found himself in. I also wanted a child to put on my lap and ask someone to take a picture of us because I loved that child so much. I wished I had a husband to take that picture. I knew he had either had a girlfriend take that picture or a wife. I think the man with the light eyes had many girlfriends. On and off they would fit into his life until he said, enough. I never do that. I never fall in love. I can imagine him saying that and it burns a hole in my heart. I love your wisdom and the fact that you do not rush to go places. To go places in your mind, places in this landscape that you have inherited, what other people call the fat of the land. I see you for the first time as I would see any flower grow from seed and then planted in soil. A piece of the world, chilled earth that will groom and groom and groom stems to reach heaven. I thought that was a beautiful thought.

When music fills the room or an auditorium you too feel beautiful as if the music was coming from somewhere within you. He made me feel beauty. The young girl who is lonely and sad because her knight in shining armour has not arrived yet to save her from her the peace and quiet she has all to herself, she knows what magic is when she looks at the shining faces in the fashion and celebrity magazines that she buys. She does not know these women are so insecure about the way they look that they ‘go under the knife’. They have plastic surgery. They are never satisfied so ‘back under the knife again they go’. The older women, well, they are far from ruined if they do not have a man at their side. They think they will die rather than go out alone. In their children’s eyes, they see visions of what they were like as children, as teenagers struggling with acne, choosing clothes, washing the angelic shine of wisdom and childhood off when applying mascara, when they fought with their mother who had to endure their tantrums. At night, the young girl will sob into her pillow. The older woman who had to endure World War 3 the whole day will perhaps have a lover, or a book (Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, a cheap romance novel, a thriller, Ken Follett, Wilbur Smith).

The baby made me tired.

Abigail George
Abigail George
Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominated shortlisted and longlisted poet Abigail George is a recipient of four writing grants from the National Arts Council, the Centre for Book and ECPACC. She briefly studied film, writes for The Poet, is an editor at MMAP and Contributing Writer at African Writer. She is a blogger, essayist, writer of several short stories, novellas and has ventured out to write for film with two projects in development . She was recently interviewed for Sentinel, and the BBC.