How lightly I have thrown the label of masochist around… generally in lighthearted conversation with those whose keep their eyes on the ocean, wading in shallow, dancing over and past the things that bite and feed.
Years of immersion and resistance, the long struggle with sentience that has never been a choice… Years of wrestling with the black hound, and more spent curled against its familiar heartbeat until only surrender made sense.
I stepped into the spirit ocean and prayed earnestly and consciously for more. ‘More. More. More. Open me, Father, to pain. I cannot be a swaying branch above the flood… first I must drown; first I must know what it is to be floundering in strange waters. Let me understand, drink of the bitter wine which tastes of true compassion ’
Careful, careful what you pray for.
I am willing to consider your logical realities, the likelihood that it’s my own sharpened focus that grumbles in the belly of the dog… but it doesn’t matter. Open is open, and creeping things can slip through doors left ajar. With the compassion, came rage… at the sorrow, the cause, against the cold clear bars of uncomfortable truths.
Magistrate’s court, city heart … I walk up tired stairs and pause often. My vision wavered like a mirage… cumulative stress, I guess. It’s happening quite frequently of late. The corridors are nests. Swarms of mothers, daughters, myriad beloveds, clacking shackles, howling beasts in the underbelly of the building – rattling impotently against their shrinking cages.
The divisions are pared away, red ribbon reel of rhyme, and we mothers and lovers, pool together in huddles of confession and comfort. We wash away the stench of association with our humanity; we hug across the trampled lies, weave compassion with our comforts… “Assalamu Alaikom” , ”Sterkte Suster/Moeder”, “May God keep you and yours”. Frito packets crumple… permitted nourishment for those who enter through the wide gate (outside -koe’sistas, pies, samosas and milky coffee in ‘n mase-fles), children raise tainted hell and we share and drown and learn to surface and breathe again. ‘n Tante questions the whereabouts of a witness loudly… there will be justice today, delivered in a language only some of us understand the need for. (It is like a Pagad and Bonties thing – you are either on one side or another. Drugs are not grey.)
The benches fill. We touch and reach with our eyes and tongues. My heart is truthful when I say to my new friend, with broken shoes and eyes like a warrior Madonna “never mind, Sugar… if he is a 27 member, he has family inside, and he will be kept safe’. She is afraid, he has been in the hole…it’s his temper, see? There haven’t been visits. She lost her I.D. and there’s no seventy rands for a temp one. All money has to help to support her son. He is six, with a physical disability, but he’s clever, clever in ways you don’t think, you know? It’s her fault. She laughs… he takes after her.
“Yip, my daughter takes after me too. My son too, in some ways, but the last time I sat here, well not here at court 24, but downstairs, it was for my son… the poison, the Tik. I don’t know when we will all stop calling it a ‘flets’ issue. Every child is our child, not so? Anywhere is everywhere… These clever kids, the ones who are too deep… they are like Sponge-Bob without an arsehole. Everything is inhaled, devoured and processed… but there isn’t anywhere for the gif to escape from.”
Our laughter bangs against the still and stern courtroom door. We trade numbers because I want to know this girl, whose fierce gaze defies common understanding of complex things like love for the sake of love alone and who speaks past her broken shoes of one-dimensional views of the world.
The stairs are just as tired on the way down, but my vision is clear.