Celebrating that once we were slaves.
Celebrating the day our bodies were freed and our flesh paid.
Celebrating the existing bond of mind to master.
Celebrating to relive pain as if that’s all we’re after.
Celebrating the end of a toxic romance.
Celebrating that life owes us another chance.
Celebrating our status like jilted lovers.
Celebrating the unrequited love of self by obsessing over others.
Celebrating the heritage of the dompas and demolitions with song.
Celebrating to emphasise that we were wronged.
Celebrating emancipation, freedom, divorce and endings.
Celebrating separation because celebrating self is scary.
Celebrating a recurring dream, eyes closed, intoxicated.
Celebrating pain because we buried the memories of who we are underneath it.
When it’s second nature to tally the passengers in a taxi before you get in…
When you automatically look inside to determine the ratio of women to men…
When you check if the ladies at your stop are going to take the same taxi
And you see them making the same calculations you’re making about their safety…
When you work out all the passenger stops along the way hoping yours won’t be the last…
When you berate yourself for being paranoid after the driver tilts the rear view to leer at you, not just glance…
Was he looking at you, you fret,
Or inspecting the old sticker above your head?
When he turns to ‘pretend negotiate’ your sale with the driver in the next lane
and you ask yourself why the fuck you even have to feel this disdain
And wonder if they ever wonder whether their daughters are subjected to such shame…
You realise the burden of your African royalty is:
To them you’re just another taxi queen.
I leave the words behind when I meet you.
And every time we kiss I do too.
I don’t want them tumbling from my mouth –
Carelessly falling about.
I leave the words behind when things are perfect as this.
Words define feelings that may not even exist.
Feelings between us that need time to breathe
Without the limitations of our vocabulary.
I leave the words behind because I don’t want to interfere
With the magic happening between your heart and my ear.
When your pain has become part of your life to the extent that it is the foundation of your relationships, you are so deep into it that parting with it is almost impossible. It’s so familiar you do not see the patterns you create and seek out just so you can experience that pain and be recognised for bearing it.
Others see you repeating the same behaviours with new partners, and even though they may point this out to you you’re unlikely to let go. You can’t – it’s not as simple as letting go, is it?
Admit it: it feels way to too good to let go. Why should you not be acknowledged for helping someone who never helps you when you’re in need? Why should you be overlooked for always taking the role of the ‘bad guy’ when it’s obvious you’re not? Why should you not get credit for taking the blame and bruises in a shitty relationship? You stuck it out. You did the time. You’re not letting go of this legacy. The world must know. There are people who will appreciate your struggle and pat you on the back. So you keep telling the story of your pain; you promote it, you live it.
It’s hard to hear someone say these things to you about your pain and your struggle with it. It’s like having your favourite fairy tale being corrupted. The story you have told yourself every day is being challenged, and worse, it’s being challenged by those closest to you. These are the people who should know what you’ve been through and should understand.
These are also the people you should listen to because they can see, from the outside, how you repeat the behaviours which keep you stuck in your playground of pain. They may or may not understand why you’re doing it. They certainly cannot make you change the way you choose to live.
Do you want to live with your pain and keep up the blame game?
Are you playing the victim?
Do your actions every day reflect your answer to the previous question?
There are broken people holding
Onto pieces of their weary souls
Their pain is gold – why would they let it go?
We, the bold ones, open-hearted thinkers, tradition’s pests
We are the children whose tongues eject the inappropriate and unexpressed
We, aficionados of our brother’s and sister’s cries wrapped in rage
We are the promulgators of our affections, the heroes of street and page
We don’t fear judgment; we dare to embrace its belligerence
We are warriors rebelling against our inherited ignorance
We acknowledge that in the torment of another’s heart we are alien
We are incarnations of our dead, we are present, we are ancient
We see the notions of pain; we’ve been visited by violence
We’ve midwifed annihilation, we trust our resilience
We travel to the ends of our own trauma through our unease
We tread across our apprehension to collect our peace
We proclaim that housekeeping our collective shit is an inevitable mess
We invite our neighbours into our soul’s kitchens unkept
We are bona fide healers of hearts, designers of destiny
We are fearless creators of the sweetest harmonies
We have high expectations of us
We are no longer the dying celebration of us
We are infinite, we are strong
We are the refrain in humanity’s endless song
Time drives people along
sluggish grey spaces to
places they’ve promised their
peace to; where they offer
hours in exchange for rent
and for towers in which
to feed their peace of mind.
Today sounds like a perpetual
meeting between rubber and
rain, a thick grey song squared
and neatly filled in.
This morning no sirens fly by.
Perhaps the rain has come
To clear away the trauma left
by some on those other days,
The sunny days on which we
Crashed, and some of us died.