My Father. My Loneliness.

There’s the time at 14, when my parents could no longer afford my hostel fees and the school left me at the police station for my father to fetch me; because that was school policy for when your parents had failed to fetch you on time: to abandon you further than you were already abandoned

I had done time at the police station before, waiting for my parents to fetch me, but this time was different; the circumstances heavier

And I knew that there would be a moment, a moment that my father had avoided since he’d been given notice to pay or fetch his child; a moment where he’d have to tell my ailing mother that I had to be removed from school

And I knew that it would take him very long to find that moment

And I knew that it would be a very hard and a very lonely moment for him

And that I had to wait in my lonely moment for him to overcome his lonely moment, so that we could eventually face each other in hard loneliness

I knew that I had to wait to assure my father without words that he hadn’t failed me and that I understood that he was doing the best that he could

And then there was that Wednesday night, that one year, in May, when I knew that my mother had died, because sometimes, somehow, you just know – I think they call it ‘intrinsic knowledge’, but couldn’t get hold of my father to confirm it

That lonely moment when I couldn’t get the hospital to stop making me ‘hold for a moment’ and just tell me the truth, to give me my confirmation, so that I could know, would know, and then duly begin the business of falling apart, of being lost, of wanting to die

Beginning to die; beginning to cease to be, seemed rather pressing that Wednesday night

But before that, my brother died, my mother didn’t stop grieving, and told me that my brother had been her favourite, and I wondered why I wasn’t good enough to also be a favourite

Then there was the day that my father died and I went deaf and cold, and stayed very cold for a long  time after that

That was probably the loneliest moment of my life,

We  had had a fight and then another and then another, until I had given up on him; perhaps he’d given up on him first and then me, and we had deserted each other, choosing to rather be lonely apart

In my lonely moment of deafness, I remembered hearing once that when I was a baby, without a minder, my father quit his job, came back home, and stayed home to look after me

And then I remembered the times that I would cry at night because I was covered in scabs and blisters and couldn’t sleep, and couldn’t scratch, and didn’t know what was wrong with me except that I was bad for scratching or touching myself, and he would sit there with me and say nxese Mfutshwana kaBaba

And the recollection of those moments made me feel even lonelier, because I knew that nobody else would ever care as much as he did

I don’t know why my memory has brought up these particular moments, to compare with that moment in bed with you, when you had hurt me, driven me to sobs and then pretended that my pain was undue, that it was all an overreaction

But it has

And maybe that’s a good thing, because it surely must mean that my pain, sorrow, loneliness, are becoming ordinary, pedestrian, common and somewhat trivial

And I could use trivial, in my life

Trivial is a good change of pace.

Writer: Nomfundo Shezi