She was broken, broken in a way that the stitches crisscrossed each other leaving no space for anymore mending. One more tear in her fragile yet tough heart will leave a hole that could not and would not be mended. Her heart was always exposed. If anyone could make broken look beautiful, it was her.
Her looks did not give up her age, but the darkness under her eyes revealed much of the trauma she weathered over the years. Maybe the natural highlights on her straight black hair exposed her not so youthful side but her light brown eyes were childlike and vulnerable. Vulnerable not in a way where she was oblivious to what was out there, vulnerable being a choice to be able to absorb and understand the external world around her. It was the only way she knew how to be. Any other way would destroy the true essence of her soul. She did try to be otherwise once, but the desolation was too much for her to bear.
The story of her life danced in her eyes, switching through the many scenes as the film reel rolled through the events. As you delved further into them you would get to go behind the scenes, to the eyewall of the cyclone, where the torment of her lacerations resided and as you are hauled in further into the eye of the cyclone you get to meet the grandest version of who she really is. The stillness and the calm are extended to all parts of her from here, connecting to her heart, making it the strongest connection by far.
She stood still for many moments, with each moment illusory lasting longer than the one before. Her pupils joined the dots unswervingly to his. He did not break that channel; he would not dare for the gun was an appendage of his arm.
She has never met him before this, yet she wore his familiarity on a daily basis since she made contact with him. She knew his reasons for being here. Taking back the land was paramount to him even if it meant war and killing. Justice can be served in many forms. She was infatuated by his revolutionary ideals. They made him come alive and brought out the passionate silent activist in her, which she kept to herself, mostly.
The effects of the past had permeated him, leaving scars that cannot be forgotten or forgiven. They shared the similar amount of scars, just his ran deeper and darker leaving wounds exposed and not mended like hers. His world wore blinkers like hers wore rose colored glasses. She obsessed about him and even played around in her dreams on how they would meet and work through the pain; the pain of removing the rose colored glasses, the pain of discovering the truth, the pain of getting hurt by her own kind. She wanted to stitch his heart, from the depths to the surface of the wound, to mend it, to make it know what love is, making it whole. Love is kind and forgiving.
The black and red lines in the Iris of his eyes pranced around each other swapping between fear and anger. He was not expecting to meet her like this either, yet he had no choice but to do what he had come here to do. Black First Land First (BLF) movement was his life and this is what he has been trained for. He will not let his people down. He is not Nelson Mandela, who fought for everyone’s equal rights. He is here to fight for what was stolen from his kind, which was his equal right. Her life will be sacrificed in the name of Azania. It was the only way he knew how to be.
Zooming into the memory of the torments of his childhood, he heard the brown–skinned-ones-with-straight-hair mock him.
“Kaffer boy! Twisted brain! Steel wool Head!” they cruelly teased.
The brown–skinned-ones-with-straight-hair kicked his mother in the liver bringing her down to her knees, discarding the scraps on her in metal plates and cups only worthy for dogs to savage. His mother’s hands were craggy, with years of laborious endurance, as she held him close to her bosom and rocked him, feeding him African lullabies of the earth, expecting somehow this to fill his tummy.
“Thula thul, thula mama, thula sana,” she sang, while he slowly chewed the half eaten rat bitten scrap piece of bread given by the brown-skinned-ones-with-straight-hair, as this is the only thing he will eat today. Tomorrow brings the same ordeal if they are lucky.
Integration of the races was supposed to be seamless. The school was supposed to be a place of learning, growing and gelling with fellow citizens in a newly democratic South Africa.
“The first act of racism we encountered was not with the umlungu but was with your kind, the brown–skinned-ones-with-straight-hair,” he told her over the phone.
Not all were brown skinned and not all have straight hair, but they came from the same place across the sea.
He helped her remove the rose colored glasses. He did not care at that time, so it wasn’t removed gently. As it was yanked off she felt the pain ripping a ladder through her heart and no amount of clear nail varnish could stop this ladder.
She wept for the torture they had endured from her own kind. She wept because she could not understand how the oppressed could oppress. She wept for what her father fought for side by side, unaware there were different kinds, as they all fought the same fight. She wept, because how could she not have known this.
Mostly she wept for him.
She fell to her knees and begged for forgiveness on behalf of her own kind. She fell into a peaceful slumber only to be reminded of the truth with the sun’s rays screaming in through her bedroom window.
She knew it was not personal but she still felt the detriment.
How can they say or think that about her? How did they not divorce her individuality from the brown-skinned-ones-with-straight-hair? How can they not see she is different from her own kind?
The sound of smashed glass, gunshots and frantic screams outside in the distance brought her back in the now.
The intoxicated comforting odiferous molecules of the petrol reached her olfactory system.
His adrenaline spiked and dropped back down, in a quick pulse, making him keep control of his autonomic nervous system. There is no room for fright and flight when you are the killer-shooter.
His eyes mirrored the darting flames through the open door behind her.
His calm was different to hers. His calm was the calm before the storm.
She took one of her moments to study his face. He was ten years her junior, but anger and fear grew on his 30-year-old face. He had a distinct scar, the shape of a thinner, waning crescent moon. It sat very snugly right underneath the arch of his right cheekbone.
“It was one of your coolies that came towards me with a screwdriver,” he specifically told her when they first spoke.
“We will take back our land and rid the land of you and the mlungus,” he chuckled.
The scar reflected silvery black with the dim down lit office. She wanted so badly now, to reach out and touch his scar like it was a doorway to something special like it held the secrets of the deep-seated non-tangible scars.
He looked at her as he softened his gaze and hastily pushed the softness away. He refused to feel anything other than anger for her. The reasons for his anger towards her had evolved over the course of the year. He no longer was angry with her because she was a brown-skinned-one-with-straight-hair, but he was angry with her for making him feel the way he felt, for making him see the world larger than life, for making his heart swell with sweetness. Little sugar granules dropped in the crevices of his vile heart mending its way up to the surface, turning into a sweet sticky syrup of love. His anger built up more when he saw her now because he will not let down his people and will not surrender to his heart.
“Gaz,” that was what she called him for short, “I understand what you are going through. It is only through this understanding from a deep place within me, from my true self, abandoning the want to be right, for it is what it is, can we move forward. Remember, Ubuntu. I am not me without you. We are each other. Your pain is my pain. I am what I am because of who we all are. Your world has joined mine and my heart has more room for more world”.
She heard the click followed by an engaged tone on the phone. That was the last she heard from him, that was two months ago. She understood him. She understood his actions. She understood his world. She understood where he came from and where he was going. She never always agreed with him but her heart understood. She knew if she did not open her heart up to him, he would be lost for eternity.
She stole a few moments before the last to break the silence lingering between them now.
“Gazini,” she softly spoke his full name.
Abruptly, she heard the cock of a gun and then felt something placed at her right temple.
“This is the brown-skinned-one-with-straight-hair, eh Gazini?” the guy next to her snorted. “What are you going to do about her, eh?”
Gazini stood still lending his eye to center its interest on Shaka, still fixating his gun towards Nyssa.
“Move out of the way, Shaka,” he calmly responded. “I’ve got this one!”
“Sure Gazini? Does not seem like it from here,” sticking the barrel end of the gun further into her temple.
“Of course! Of course! Now move away so I can finish this one up and disappear,” he said with concealed emotions.
His impatience made his hand quiver unnoticeably.
Before returning his focus to Nyssa, Gaz swept his eye from toe to head taking her all in and landing his eye back on hers. When he re-engaged, he saw something that he did not see in these many moments that passed.
She had let go!
Her face gleamed with content and her eyes twinkled from her heart. She has already forgiven him for what he is going to do because she…
There was only one bullet that left the barrel. There was only one bullet that was in the gun. It had her name on it.
She fell to the ground, as he heard the stringed syllables vibrate through the air into the sound of “I Love You, Gaz.”
She lay still for many moments.
He stood still for many moments.
A good few million many moments in the future they will look back at this day and recall how their hearts stood still in the same moment on the timeline, to beat as one, just before Shaka hit the ground pulling her with him. They will remember how the pool of blood became increasingly redder and covered more surface area under Shaka’s body with every tiny moment. They will remember how Gazini turned on his own kind to bask in her love.
They will also find moments to forget all of this, in each other’s embrace, and know that there is no ‘type of kind’ but only kindness and ultimately a love for humanity, as we all bleed and we all bleed red.
This is a work of fiction.
Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Copyright © Pragashnie Naidoo 2017