That is how best I can describe myself the following morning. I don’t remember if I slept because if I did it must have been sleep walking. I could not stop asking myself what would have happened if only I had come to see her. Would I have seen that something was wrong?
I said to my sister who was sitting in the corner in a foetus position. Uhm, foetus position, I mean she had her head in her knees.
“Did you sleep at all?”
I asked her.
“No I did not. How could I? I was hoping that I could so that I would wake up from this bad dream but it is not a dream!”
She told me. She was right. I had slept and walking to the realization that things had not changed made the pain come back and stab me ten times harder. Ah, the tears starting rolling down again. This time there was no Sfiso to hold me. I went and sat down on that cold hard floor next to my sister and even though I was crying I hugged her and told her,
“It was God’s will. She is alright where ever she is!”
I did not mean that at all because right now my anger was towards God and my sister expressed those words for me,
“What kind of God takes a mother from her child?”
She choked on her own tears and coughed. I guess it was too soon for me to use those words because even I felt the same anger. There was a knock on the door, it was Mam’ Dolly.
“I am sorry to wake you up so early girls but today is going to be a very busy day for us.”
She explained politely. She got side tracked a bit when I saw her looking longingly into my mother’s bedroom. I guess she like us hoped that my mother would walk out that door as she had always done for so many years but nothing. She did not walk out.
I called out to her because that’s how far in her thoughts she had managed to lose herself.
“Yes, yes… Sorry!”
She said wiping away her tears then took out a hanky and blew her nose.
“I just don’t believe it. I can’t accept it.”
She said. You know when a person has been sick for a long time and you know that there is no hope, their death is painful but you accept that they had suffered enough so dying was probably the best outcome. We tell each other that they have rested. I think that we can all live with but when a person dies so sudden…in black culture…there was witchcraft involved! I mean I saw and spoke to my mother yesterday. She was not in a car accident or anything like that! She just died! What’s wrong with this picture?
A male voice shouted from outside. I did not recognize it immediately but Mam’ Dolly did and immediately stood saying,
It was the pastor, the one my mother had wanted to save me from the calling. I did not get up because I was too numb to move. Something had happened to me. All these people coming just made the situation worse as it made it true.
“I heard last night but I could not come because I was at the conference. What, what happened?”
He asked Mam’ Dolly at the door.
“You better come in, the girls are here!”
She said to him as she ushered him in. We both stood up when he stepped into the kitchen where we were sitting.
“My girls I am so sorry! I have known your mother forever and I am so sorry!”
He said to us by way of his condolence. We both shook his hand and my sister led him into the lounge.
“Have you started the funeral arrangements? What can the church do to help?”
He asked us politely. I know a lot of people criticize the church for its gossiping and being in your face business but if you come from a true black community you know how much the church can help to.
“We have only just started calling my relatives. Today I am going to go to the bank so that we can start doing all these things!”
I told him.
“I don’t mean to be forward but don’t you have a funeral policy. I have learned that it helps a lot at times like this!”
He explained to me. I hate telemarketers. I don’t know if I am the only one that feels like that and to this end I was a bit ashamed when I responded,
“No I do not have one. I never thought…”
I started to say but the words would not come out. They were stuck in my throat.
“We know thought she would die!”
My sister said holding my hand for comfort. That reassurance steadied me but it also made me realize that she too did not have a life insurance.
“It’s not a problem. I have some money put away so will go to the bank and start making arrangements. I don’t even know where to start!”
I told him and indeed I did not. Where does one even start when arranging a funeral? I had an uncle who was coming from Newcastle and I hoped he would do all the running around.
“Don’t worry about that child we will guide you there!”
The pastor said thoughtfully. I was happy to hear that because I really did not know where we would start.
“I suppose I can find a caterer for the funeral!”
I said thoughtfully.
“A caterer? For a funeral?”
Mam’ Dolly asked incredulously. I was taken aback by her indignation because I thought that was common sense.
“We are not in the suburbs. Do you know how many times your mother went to help cook and peel for other peoples loved ones? They will want to return the favour. Trust me when I say it will not go down well with people here if you get a caterer!”
She explained to me and the pastor agreed with her. I guess I was not thinking straight.
“Ok then we shall see. I need to go to the bank to see what I can arrange.”
I told them standing up getting ready to leave. My sister said she would be fine with them. I went to my bank but the branch in Sandton City. I have always felt that they give better service there.
“Thank you for coming and I have gone through your account but am afraid I have a bit of bad news!”
The bank consultant was telling me a few minutes after my arrival.
“What is the problem?”
I asked her.
“I am afraid you have no money!”
She declared but with a rather baffled look.
“What do you mean I have no money? In my account I should have over 50k?”
I asked the bank lady.
“Yes ma’am you do have that but there is a hold on your account. Let me call the manager for you because I don’t know what it means!”
She said. Have you noticed that most bank managers and white and usually female. I am not being racial here but it’s been my experience. The lady came and asked me to her office.
“What seems to be the problem ma’am?”
She asked me very politely.
“I am trying to withdraw money and it tells me I have a hold on my account. I have an emergency!”
I told her.
“Ok let me look at what the hold is it’s probably something we can fix. I hope you have your proof of residence and identity document with you. These FIRCA people have been on us lately!”
She said to me trying to be pleasant. I gave her my I.D.so she could access my account and the she made a hissing sound.
“I am sorry there is nothing I can do. You put your account on hold because you have a pending large deposit. This will take about 5 working days at least to clear.”
She explained to me. It’s not like I did not know that, I did.
“Can’t I get a loan or something? My mother passed away last night I need the money!”
I told her. She looked at me with pity in her eyes.
“I don’t think you can and I don’t think any other bank would give you right now. I am really sorry for your loss; I don’t even know what to say. You see when banks put your account on hold you almost look like a person of interest as they do background checks on your finances. You are frozen out. Did someone not advise you on this?”
She asked me curiously of which I had been advised. I humbly stood up and walked out of the bank. My tears, they were like coming from an endless fountain. I could not contain it. I had money yet here I was dead broke. My sister had not said anything about money and I had wanted to avoid asking her because of her separation stress. I had always thought my family will rely on me when it comes to such problems as I was the successful one but guess what, I was broke!
“Are you able to raise money for the funeral, the bank won’t give me money!”
I asked my sister when I got into the car in the parking lot.
“I have already tried but I am broke. I am even in debt. I can try getting a loan but with the separation now it could be hard!”
She explained to me.
“O God what are going to do, we have no money!”
My sister cried on the phone.
She was right.
*********** The End**************
Michael Nkululeko Maphoto (fb)
Thank you for reading my letter. I was not sure if I had the courage to send this but here goes.
When my sister died 3yrs ago she left me with her son to rise. Our parents died when we were young so it had always been just the two of us. I am 44 now and she left me with her 13 year old daughter at the time. I had a son of my own who was 14 years old. Today they are 16 years old and 17 years old respectively. It is just us as we have very few relatives and I have another daughter who is younger. The daughter was an only child. In February I went to the funeral of a colleague out of town and then I came back early because the transport taking us back broke down and we could not continue the journey to the Eastern Cape. I found my son and daughter (for that is what she is now) having sex. I am not talking about after it was done but during the deed. I was traumatized. I was freaked out beat and I beat those two kids up as though they were strangers to me. I told them to go report me to the police if they wanted to because I was not going to accept that in my house. They did not even have condoms. I then took them both for tests and so on but it turned out they had been having sex for over a year right under my nose. I cried so much because I felt as though I should have noticed this from the beginning. They did not stop I caught them again twice more and now I don’t know what to do. Beating them failed, I took them to therapy and that’s not working so what should I do now? There is no more laughter in the house. No one talks; when I walk in they walk out etc. The youngest is starting to ask questions but what do I do?
Please advise me before I have an ever bigger scandal on my hands!