Joe

The female teacher with a firm and attractive bottom is a great distraction to the male student. More so if she is in the habit of wearing a tight skirt, or tight pants. Concentration goes right out of the window, and we only lie to ourselves if we pretend to be puzzled by the high failure rate of her male students. The male child has enough to deal with already, without being subjected to this kind of torture.
You will see them, the male students, walking out of class with a bended gait, their pants held in funny positions. There is a game that the students like to play. That is to hold the crotch of another when he least expects it. Imagine then if that were to happen at this moment. Oh wait, there it is happening. What are the odds. The other student pulls back in astonishment. He laughs to diffuse the awkward moment. What a moron. Didn’t his father teach him anything? You are indeed a brave man to offer to another man your man stick just like that, says a voice in my head. It’s tough to be a man, says another voice. I know that voice. Its my father’s voice. One day you will be sitting alone in the toilet and think to yourself, I hated that bastard but I wish I could thank him now, he taught me how to be a man. I am teaching you how to be a man my boy, it’s tough being a man. Your mother is an idiot don’t you see? Women are like that, one day you will understand. You must know how to treat your wife. You must get out of my head you demon! He lingers a bit…ahh there he goes. He’ll be back I know. He will never let me go.

Look at this boys eyes, how red they are, dilated pupils. Is he not the one who made miss Ngcube fall in love with him? Then sent his girlfriend to blackmail her. What cunning! What was miss Ngcube thinking? I guess she wasn’t thinking. Poor woman, how lonely she must have been to resort to such desperation. It was not an act of desperation you say? She gets turned on by being in a position of authority you say? Telling a man what and what not to do. The innocence of youth and a fully functioning sexual anatomy. What a combination. Teenagers scare the shit out of me, says the song. They have sex at a young age, are rebellious and violent. Darken your clothes and strike a violent pose. They still wont leave you the fuck alone. They drink, they smoke, get high and pissed, and cant tell the difference between their rectum and their fucken septum. The ignorant bastards will ruin your looks I tell you. Like they ruined Mr Mabe’s looks. What was he hoping to achieve, going around biting his thumb at people? You bite you thumb at a hormonal teenage boy he will bite the offending thumb right off. Mr Mabe does not have any thumb to bite at people anymore. He is now like a dog begging for its food. A stray township mgodoi walking around with a hidden tail and shifty downcast eye. Here comes miss Ngcube, places, places people!!

“Veronica, looking good as always. Maan maan maan.”

“Hee hee hee, you flatter me joe.”

“You must be used to such flattery by now.”

“Hee hee hee”

“One of these days you are gonna melt my heart with a laugh like that.”

“Stop it, you are making me blush, hee hee..”

“Listen to that, the sweet melody, I am getting married here”

“Hee hee hee”

she goes down the corridor to the principals office.
Tap tap, bump bump, the skirt goes up. She pulls it down hastily. Looks back, smiles like a naughty mistress, I die. Opens the door to the principals office, his grizzly old wrinkly veterans face acquires life, sweet glorious life. The door closes. Sigh. Some guys are lucky, a wise man once said. Miss Ngcube deals only in extremes, la automata de pendulum, the hopeful young brats, and the jaded old geezers. The ben 10, and the benedict 1001.
The grade 8 trip, what a scene that was. Miss Ngcube vomiting in the toilet, the old geezer standing on the door.

“Veronica, dearie, are you alright?

“What’s going on?”

“Oh, Joe, I did not see you there”

He stares at me like an artful dodger who is not so artful at dodging.
Choke, cough cough of a dying woman cough. Slump.

“Veronica! Talk to me. It must have been something she ate. Curses, a dreadful thing, a stomach bug Joe”

“Yes, dreadful”

Indeed quite dreadful. I saunter away, leave the old man with his young charge. That klipdrift miss Ngcube brought is not going to drink itself. I can see the old man now. Supporting a clearly inebriated trying so hard to hide it miss Ngcube into the bus.

“There there, easy now.”

The young snorts giggling under their seats, eyes full of mirth.

“One of our teachers was drunk today”

“Good good, very good”

Slumps off in a sulk, seen but not heard. Remember on that day, they will one day say. Laugh and laugh at the antics of grown-ups. I am grown old too. Look how tall I am. I feel like such a child.

“Not going to class today Joe?”

“Right behind you Mabe.”

Witness

Every Sunday, some ladies from the Watchtower come to my place to teach me about the Bible, and they always leave their pamphlets behind so that I might read and study for the next session. I let them come because I am bored on Sundays, and I need something to amuse myself. Of course it does not hurt that the ladies from the tower are hot. I think it is the play at innocence that makes them sexy, their pretence at prudence gives them a sexual allure that not even the naked virgins of an Islamic heaven can surpass. Those long skirts that reveal nothing are meant to stimulate the sexual imagination. Those lower legs covered with thick black pantyhose makes one think; that for a person to go to such length to hide something, that something must be worth hiding. Even their old ladies…okay let’s not go there. I have a feeling that the Jehovah’s witness people have made a thorough study into the sexual psyche of the human mind, and have learned which buttons to press to be let into people’s houses. To be able to tap into unconscious sexual fantasies requires a certain kind of mind. It is not surprising though, presumably these people read the Bible, and the Bible is filled with descriptions of sex, lust, adultery, rape, incest, sodomy, and poorly disguised sexual innuendos.

A few years ago, when I was much younger and less circumspect, I would have read them passages from Dawkins, and proceeded to ask them a few uncomfortable questions.

“Why were Bible writers so fond of sacrificing daughters to be gang raped? Do you think that prostitutes should still be stoned to death? Why do you think of the keeping of slaves? When we are done here, would you like to know me?”

But that is not the right attitude to have, especially with people you may meet Tomorrow in the streets, a whole group of them. The kind of people, I think the word fanatic (or zealots) applies here for insisting that we are all going to burn in everlasting fire, who can casually walk into your house without anyone asking questions. Who can walk out of a house without anyone wondering if the occupant is still alive. Besides, somethings are not worth arguing about. Who would want to talk about things that cannot be proven when you can enjoy the company of a beautiful woman, and the old sod accompanying her. Studying the Bible with the beautiful lady from the witness is like learning to be a sub from my dom. I must be without pride, humble and prostate, accept punishment for wrongdoing, and maybe a reward if I have been good, and if I have been extra good I may go to heaven…I’m a writer, I don’t need much, so the constant contemplation of 144 000 glorious orgasms will keep me going for years.

Empty

I had a vision of a dark universe existing outside of time, a place where the dead go, to dwell for all eternity in the cold emptiness. This put the fear of death into me, at a time when I was seriously contemplating suicide, I had it all planned out even, just postponing the final day. Then this feeling, this odd experience in the middle of the night, which could not be called a nightmare because I was fully awake, struggling to sleep, listening to the silent sounds conjured up by the night, then a feeling of profound loneliness overcame me, a winter I had never before…actually it reminded me of the cold during the 2010 soccer world cup; of course the foreign visitors did not feel the cold at all, they were used to that climate. Only we felt it because we did not have clothes for that kind of weather in our wardrobe. It was like that, only worse, and if anyone were to walk into that room they would feel no cold at all. They would not perceive the darkness that was slowly creeping over creation. We humans, were meant to bring light, but we are being consumed into nothingness; this was a later thought. What gripped me was a paralyzing dread of oblivion. So terrible it was that it transformed itself into a physical illness. It may have been the alcohol perhaps, it may have been the creeping hangover, it may have been the fact that I was totally out of money and my five day long alcohol binge was coming to an end. In short I felt like crap, and imagining myself feeling this crappy and all alone forever and ever. I was scared enough to think about going back to church. A total waking nightmare. I promise you this was not a dream. I know the difference between what is a dream and what is not a dream. I have had dreams where I know exactly what is going on. My friend T committed suicide two years ago. I think that is where my fear of loneliness came from. Before that I never believed that such a thing existed. I had a great indifference for the company of others. Before T died I had never been alone at all, but now I was. He died before we finished watching all the Naruto episodes. I found myself wishing, inexplicably, that at least he could have waited, that he should have seen team 7 back together, that he should have seen when Naruto and Sasuke fought Madara, and when they defeated Kagui, he should have seen the final fight between them. How is he going to see that with eyes gripped by death? When I went off on my own, I always likened myself to Sasuke, and T was Naruto, always trying to bring me back into the village. I was the one who was always chasing after self destruction. I was the one who was meant to die young.
He poisoned himself, and spent three weeks in hospital giving his family a false hope, buy I knew. It was like a paracetamol death, the person who has just overdosed seems perfectly fine, and perhaps a bit cheerful because he thinks he is going to live after all, but the doctor treating him knows that he will be dead in a few weeks. When I heard about the kind of poison T had taken, I knew. The night before his death I had a dream. He was sitting at the corner of the street, a few houses from where I live. He was sitting with his head between his feet, his knees upraised. I walked up to him and kneeled beside him.
“How are you feeling?” I said.
He looked up at me with eyes full of sorrow.
“Like I have a hangover that refuses to go away. You know I’ve been feeling like this for 3 weeks now, and I’m exhausted.”
I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t have the words to reassure him.
“Want to go for a ride?”
“Yeah, why not.”
For a moment he looked a bit optimistic. And when we got into the car and raced off he laughed and seemed almost happy. Before I knew it we had reached the maximum speed, and a green fence was coming up fast. I hit the break, and somehow we were both thrown of, when we landed the car was no more, but we had no time to contemplate our luck, because suddenly a hole opened up where T was standing and he fell in. I woke up with a sense of responsibility for failing to get him out, for failing to prevent his fall, for failing to act even when I could see that something was wrong. For failing to prevent his death. I spent the whole day walking aimlessly about the neighbourhood, trying to accept what I could not change. Finally I made a promise, it was okay if he left, because I would be following him soon, and none of us will ever be alone.
It’s been two years since he died, and every few weeks I dream about him. I know that he is dead, I wonder if he too knows that he is dead. But none of us mentions it. There is nothing in me that seems a bit perturbed at my interactions with him. We laugh and have fun, we drink and make plans about were to go next, we find ourselves doing things that we could not do when he was still alive, physical impossibilities that we both find thrilling. And we spent the day with a keen sense that all that will come to an end as soon as I wake up. It always ends. I always wake up to my own loneliness. I always come back to my empty life. It is this reality perhaps that has brought this vision to me, the vision of a cold and empty universe, a vision of a dark place where friendship does not exist, where death leads to an eternal contemplation of nothingness. And I will never get to see my friend ever again.

Obscene

There is a slight smell of the unreal in the room. It’s not the overwhelming smell of soap among the visible rot. Its not the shining floor beneath the dark congealed blood from long dead bodies. It’s something else. Something that whispers in the air. Something that whispers of lives lived and stories desperate to be told. Weird lives whose stories many would prefer to be untold, if only to spare us our sanity, and the illusion of what it truly means to be human. Every story lays beneath the dark begging to see the light, hoping to be told. And Vilakazi, usually being the one who uncovers these stories, sometimes wished that they stayed buried. But they can’t stay buried, they must see the light, if only to remind us that we are nothing more than animals, who still get thrown into an euphoria without reason by the taste of blood.

Vilakazi, with his hat sitting sideways in his head, had many times walked into these concealed stories, and his presence would pull them away from the obscure hell in which they had lived. Giving them a chance at life even through the bodies that had gave birth to them lay dead on the floor. He accepted this as his lot in life, everyone, like a cog in a machine, must fulfill a purpose. And this was his purpose; to uncover stories that exposed the rot inside the human soul. Although sometimes, when he found an unpalatable scene, not that any of the grisly scenes he has seen so far are palatable, but sometimes a scene moves outside his powers of comprehension, and it is at such times that he wishes that this was not his purpose, this was not his job, this was not his lot in life. And this was one of those times.

Human beings possess a darkness in them, a darkness that many of us never get to see but we sense within ourselves all the time, and we work hard to ignore it, hoping that we will never get pushed toward circumstances which will test our ability to resist the dormant demon waking. Vilakazi has come across those circumstances, and always wondered if he would be able to resist, but senseless violence of this kind made him pause, and ask himself how we were able to build a civilization if we were capable of such evil, or perhaps the civilization itself was a problem. A civilization needs constant policing because humans like chaos. Living in conditions were we are forced in constant contact with each other, with work, commuting, socializing, shopping, exchanging meaningless pleasantries, we grow to hate each other. We even come to hate the image of our future selves. It’s a weird social phenomena, but father’s no longer love their children. Perhaps they never did. In the olden days, father’s spent most of their time away from their children, sometimes for months on end, working to earn money to send back home, along with sexually transmitted diseases from ever present prostitutes. Father’s went off to war to fight for some obscure purpose no one really understood. Father’s went on adventures, following crazed men to unknown lands in search of glory. All in an effort to be away from their children. And now, father’s don’t really have an excuse to be away from the children, but it still does not stop the phenomenon of absent fathers. And those who stay, are always a danger to their children. They grow frustrated, disillusioned, restless. And for some, there comes a point where even drink is not enough to hold back the demon. At least that is how Vilakazi tried to reason things out in the face of the scene that confronted him now.
But the truth is that those reason don’t matter. The stories that he creates to makes sense of them don’t really matter. What matter is the scene, in this moment, that he is looking at.
Four children and their mother are dead. The children were all hanged by their father; one of them is a step child but that hardly seems relevant. The mother was shot, three times, once in the head and twice in the heart. And the father, husband and monster shot himself. It is the parents blood that has congealed on the shiny floor. It took five days for the bodies to be found. And only after a teacher started making enquiries about why the children were not coming to school, and cared enough to come to their house. But none of the neighbours were curious about a whole family that had stayed indoors for a week. Vilakazi went further into the dark room, called by another detective, and he wondered why there was such a strong smell of soap among this rot.

*

“its important that we as men make sure that this does not happen again. We must not turn ourselves into cannibals towards our women.” said a man passing by.

Another burial

My uncle came back crammed into a child’s coffin, to have another funeral and another burial. But at least he was dead this time, or so we hoped. For months he had been coming to us ignorant of his own death. He even complained about the fact that we chose to bury him alive. But now he was dead and in need of a bigger coffin. He told us that we wasted money on his funeral, money he could have used, money that he badly needed. But now he was dead again, and we must use money we don’t have to bury him a second time.

My uncle was always a child like fellow. With weird expectations of the world. He got angry when a plate of food was not waiting for him when he came back from his friends at night, smelling of weed and cigarettes. He was a man who had no clue of the concept of ‘earning your keep’. He used to implore us to throw him out if we resented his presence, knowing very well that we would not do so. He took our failure to get rid of him as evidence that we needed him around. Where could he possibly go if we had thrown him out anyway. There was no harm in letting him stay, except an extra plate of food in the evening. My wife, Karabo, did not see things the same way at all.

“The only reason I don’t send him packing wena Tumi is because of my respect for you, as my husband. And because you see your uncle as a father since you grew up without one.”

I don’t know what respect she was talking about, I have never seen it. The real reason was the fact that she was scared of him. He seemed like the kind of person who might take vengeance when wronged. When he came back high from his friends, he took his plate of food from the kitchen and came to watch television with us, if we were still up. He ate silently, chewing his food slowly as if he was in deep thought. When he finished he put the plate on the table and stared straight ahead of him. Which just happened to be in Karabo’s direction. She said that he glared at him, his blood shot eyes plunging deep into her soul, making her feel more exposed than she had ever felt in her life. Is that why she insisted on turning the lights off during sex? As always she was exaggerating, it was utter nonsense. My uncle wasn’t doing any glaring at all. He was completely passed out. Saliva glistened on the side of his mouth. And every once in a while he would twitch slightly. But his eyes stayed open. They refused to close. Just like they refused to close on the day he died. We had to put a cloth in warm water and dab it at the eyes to force them to close. But when I went to the mortuary to wash his body I found them open again. My mother in law said that was a sign that my uncle didn’t want to go, that he had unfinished business. If that was the case then he should have gone on with the business instead spending his life smoking weed, lazing out on people’s couches, falling asleep in front of my television and freaking out my wife.

On the day he died the sky was overcast and there was a chill in the wind. It was the day after he had been discharged from the hospital. He had stage four cancer, so the doctors told him to fuck off and die at home, they could do nothing for him. Karabo says that is not what they said but that is what I heard. They gave him an incredibly large amount of morphine and told him to fuck off.

It was a sombre day. I had taken a few weeks of work to take care of him. My wife refused to set foot in his bedroom. She made an excuse to visit friends so that she could be away from the house.

“I really don’t want to be here when he dies.” She said.

“He’s not going to die. People like him like to linger. He’s been lingering his whole life. I think he’s going to linger a bit longer.”

“Dear god I hope not.”

I don’t blame her. In a way l too was hoping he would die soon. I too was tired of his lingering.
So now Karabo was out, and it was just the three of us. My uncle sleeping in his bed, me checking up on him after every few minutes, and his depressed dog sitting on the stoop. It was the dog that had simply decided to follow him home late one night. And stayed with us since. No one knew where it came from. It was his dog, even though he never fed it. And now it had stationed itself on the stoop, and was refusing to move or even eat; the grief in its eyes was startling. All was quiet except for his persistent cough, and my frantic movements checking on him after every few minutes. In one of these moments he saw me peak inside his bedroom and he called to me.

“Son, boy, look I’m craving like mad man. Do me a favour and get me two cigarettes, just two, I really need to smoke. Maybe they will still my restless heart.”

“Are you serious? No! You have spent eight weeks without a smoke. You don’t really expect me to get you a cigarette now.”

“I know, I know. But I can’t help it boy. I’m craving super bad. Help me out man I’m dying here.”

“Uncle please, don’t do this to me.”

There was such desperation in his eyes, and a deep fear he tried hard to hide. I had never seen him this desperate, this worried about anything. He had lived his whole life taking it easy, with not a care in the world. With an unreasonable expectation that all his needs would be met. I was shocked to see him transformed in such way. He had finally come up against a force which he could not bend to his will, the force of death.

“Uncle, I will get you your cigarettes but it’s time to take your medication now.”

I wonder if he knew that he was taking pure morphine. I wonder if he knew that I had no intention of getting him those cigarettes. I wonder if the doctors had prescribed high levels of morphine to spare us, I mean him, the pain of a lingering death. I wonder if I gave him an overdose. About an hour later he was breathing heavily. There was a heavy rattle in his throat, as if something huge was struggling to get out. There were moments where it sounded like he was moaning, or crying, and talking to himself, or whoever it was that had appeared in front of him. Maybe he was quarrelling with death to leave him alone. I had brought a chair to sit in front of his room, now afraid to go in, afraid of what I might see in those eyes. Then suddenly it went quiet, and I felt something grab at my heart. In the silence that followed, I heard the soft scrapping of paws at the kitchen door, and the dog started to howl.

It was a miserable funeral. On the night before the funeral there rose a storm, like an angry ghost, and it blew the tent over. We had to wake up early the next morning to set it up again. All his friends refused to give a speech. The priest talked about how the deceased never went to church, and made a roundabout intimation that he was probably burning in hell. The single bus we had hired, and feared would not be enough to transport people to the grave yard was nearly empty, and most of the food prepared for the mourners was left uneaten. And the damn dog did not stop howling. Whether at night or during the day, it stood at the gate and howled like the devil’s hound. Four weeks into the howling and I had had enough. We couldn’t sleep. But most importantly my wife couldn’t sleep. At night she sat up, supporting her head on her upraised palm, and stared at me with unblinking eyes. I feared for my life. Something had to be done.

I was up in the early dawn with a rope in my hand. When the dog saw me it stopped howling. It looked at me with glowing and challenging eyes, and I almost lost my nerve. Then the rope was around its throat, I used my foot to hold it down, and I pulled on the rope with all my strength. I expected a struggle but there was none. It’s only movements where a few involuntary twitches in its final moments of death. I must have held on to that rope for ten minutes, but it felt like hours. When I finally loosened the rope my hands were scrapped raw, and I was bleeding slightly. I dragged the dog away from the gate, onto a concealed spot under a tree that my uncle planted. Then I went back into the house to get myself ready for work. When I came back in the evening Karabo had already buried the dog in the back yard.

Afterwards my uncle started to visit, ignorant of his own death. He would sit with us watching television as if nothing had changed. Then in the morning we would find him gone. His visits were infrequent, weeks would pass without him coming by, and then he would suddenly walk through the door on an unexpected night. Karabo and I used to debate on whether we should tell him that he was dead. I always maintained that such news would be a shock to him.

“How would you feel if you were told that you were dead, being dead a long time. And that your pretence at life, cute at first, was now getting tired?”

But then my uncle came in one day and confronted Karabo about why there was no food left for him.

“You know you’re dead, right? Been dead for months. I don’t know why you keep coming back here. Well sir, I’m not in the habit of cooking for dead people.”

“Aha, Ya! So you finally admit it. You wanted me to die. So you buried me alive. You left me in that cold and lonely place, and you haven’t even come to visit, not even once. Well it’s too bad mam, I’m still alive. You wasted your money on that funeral. You should have just gave me the money because I need it. I need that money dammit.”

He was angry when he left, promising to defy death for all eternity. So I was surprised when a few weeks later a child’s coffin was brought to our house, with my uncle crammed inside, lying sideways, his legs broken so he could fit inside the small space, dead again, and demanding another funeral.

Stories

You can buy weed from the vendors on the side of the street in Hillbrow. The memory came suddenly as I passed by Joubert park on my way to Hillbrow, and I could picture myself clearly buying a bag of bananas and taking from the vendor a box of matches filled with weed. But I could not remember which vendor that was, and on which street. And I realized the reason why; it was not my memory. It was from a scene from Kgebetli Moele’s book Room 207. But it seemed so much a part of my experience that I stood confused in the middle of the street, questioning my own identity. This always happens, when I’m walking in downtown Johannesburg, and the memory of people who probably did not exist, created from the minds of tortured writers, flood my mind. That alley where I got mugged and almost got killed, and I was on the verge of being thrown out of the apartment because they took all my rent money. There’s me, crying in a crowded taxi rank because I have failed to achieve my big city dreams, and now I must go back and live once again in my parents house, hang out all day with childhood friends with nothing to do, and spend the rest of my life licking the wounds of my failure, drinking cheap beer everyday. There I am joining a trade union March in the 1920’s, feeling myself a rebel for mingling with communists, and conversing on issues that affect the common working folk, while sipping whisky from a flask to keep me warm. I stare at the building of the Joburg central police station and contemplate the tenth floor, from which a friend of mine supposedly jumped to his death. I see myself standing at the corner in Yeoville, waiting for my teacher and lover to pick me up in his car, so that we can spend the weekend at his house. I see the prostitute across the street, and remember the day we both walked across the gates of the Witwatersrand rand university, naiveté written on our faces. I remember the fear I felt when a man in the Alexander township pushed a car tyre across the street towards the man being surrounded by a mob during the xenophobic attacks, even though I have never set foot on an Alexander Street. I have been to many places. I have travelled the cities of the world in and out of time. I have walked with a thousand writers as they disappeared down an obscure street, possessed by a story they cannot run away from. I feel like I have lived a million lives. I am a human without an ego. I am the world and the world is me. There is a universe in me completely born from the pages of books.

I don’t know if people who read have lived more lives than people who don’t. I just know that human beings like telling each other stories. And every story you read or hear from someone else merges you with the people in the story, and you are no longer just yourself. If there was ever a purpose to life perhaps this is it; the process of merging with the lives of other people through story. Non of us live only one life, and non of us can be isolated from the life of other people no matter how introverted and reclusive we can be. It is the story that connects us. This may sound naïve, but I truly believe that it is through story that human beings from across the planet can understand each other. And perhaps with understanding may come the end of all conflict. It is for this reason I think that we must never stop telling stories. Stories provide the threads that connect us to each other. No science can achieve what a story can. So read, write, watch a movie, stop a neighbour on the street and tell them a story, listen to the stories they have to tell. There is no better way to expand your spirit.

Neighbour

My neighbour can’t sleep without her lights on. Yesterday a wire from our shared circuit breaker caught fire. Her TV was on the whole night, and she had forgotten to turn off her two plate stove. It uses a lot of electricity, so in the morning when she turned on the kettle it was too much for the circuit. It caught fire, and everything almost burned. When I confronted her about her excessive use of electricity she told me that her two year old daughter cannot sleep without the light on. Which was a lie. She told me the real reason one day when we were drunk together. I suppose her child is also haunted. She is always crying for no reason at the most random times, but mostly when there are people around. Her mother gets frustrated sometimes and digs her nails into her head, drawing blood. “why do you have to embarrass me like this in front of people you evil child” she says, tears moistening her eyes. This one time the mother was so angry that she slapped the child in the face so hard that she fell, and for a few seconds the child was silent, stunned by the violence and the pain, before she burst out into death defying screams. I ran to pick the child up, and the mother dug her nails into her forehead, drawing blood. The old people say that the child’s ancestors, from her father’s side, want her to come home. They are haunting the child to force the mother into submission. The mother wants nothing to do with them because the father broke her heart. But the other father (she has two men who both believe they are the father of the child) wants the child to visit his family, she also refuses. She is afraid that the family will realise that he is not her father. The elders can easily spot such things. Men are so easily fooled when it comes to daughters. The real father wants nothing to do with her. She has filled for maintenance. The child does not really know who her father is. The mother does not seem concerned that the child will one day be able to ask questions, assign blame, and manifest the consequences of her upbringing. In the two months that we have been neighbours seven men have visited her bed, one every weekend. I don’t know if she enjoys it or fakes it but she moans loudly and screams every time they have sex, it’s like listening in on a porn movie. The lights are on, the child sleeps on the same bed next to her, and she screams and moans while being ravaged by a strange man. Word has got around, random guys just show up at night and knock on her door. She pretends to be angry at their brazen behaviour. She says the child is too young to understand anything. That she won’t remember any of this when she is older. I’m familiar with the misconceptions of grownups. I’m not really sure if the mother is actually grown up at all, despite her 39 years. In fact I don’t know if anyone ever grows up. I’ve been waiting to grow up my whole life.

She has four children. Her oldest she had when she was sixteen. The first three of her children she let her mother raise. She says she is raising this last one to remind herself not to have another child. Is it a coincidence that the last is turning out to be the most difficult child, as if to punish the mother for her negligence. All the father’s left her after the babies were born. The father of her second child wanted to marry her, apparently, he died on the day before the marriage. Her first child is nineteen years old, his father recently got in contact with him. He wants to know his son, and the son has been wanting to know his father forever so there was nothing she could do to prevent it. Besides, she has no real influence on him, she’s just a biological mother not a real mother. There is a difference. She doesn’t know who the father of her third child is. When the father of her last born left her, she tried to commit suicide. I wonder if she ever asks herself why these men in her life find it so easy leave, and find it so easy to come back when they are lusting for sex, only to leave again before the sun comes up to avoid curious eyes that may take the news back to the wives. Last weekend she got into a fight. Some girls that she had been drinking with accused her of bewitching men in order to get their attention. Why else would so many men be interested in her, they said, what does she have that was so special?

At night she can’t sleep without her light on. She told me it’s for the sake of her daughter when I told her to switch off her electrical appliances when she sleeps. The light bulb has been on non stop for two months. “Maybe the light has a problem.” She said. It was not the light but it may have contributed. And it was not for the sake of her daughter that the light stayed on. She had forgot the story that she had told me when we got drunk together this one time. Most of what I know about her was revealed to me in that drunk moment. And I may forget many things, but I always remember everything that is said and done when I am drunk. She is haunted, she said. When the light is turned off shadows appear; shadows with faces and hands that grope her, touch her, undress her and abuse her, and she can’t move or speak, or resist their advances. One of the shadows speaks with her father’s voice. They chant and recite incantations during the whole grizzly ritual. Their orgasms give her visions of death and blood shed. She sees images of herself with a knife slicing her daughter’s throat. She sees her hands filled with blood. She hears her father laughing. So she keeps the lights on in an attempt to banish the shadows. She keeps the television on so that she can drown the voices. She keeps her two plate stove on to get rid of the cold brought on by their presence. And she sleeps with all these men to replace the memory of her father on top of her.