The Wake

We quietly enter the living room, its small maybe 3 1/2 m by 2 1/2 m, as my eyes get accustomed to the darkness I see that there are about 10 women inside a few seated on chairs most on the floor.What little furniture the family owns has been set outside.My eyes find what they have looked for since coming in, Mama Marta. Her eyes have a forlorn, vacant look, her girl is gone the silver cord of life snapped. The women quietly make small talk among themselves and as more arrive a deathly silence engulfs us all. There is no respect for time, its difficult to calculate how long we sit in this haunting silence. There are two kittens by Mama Martas feet, oblivious to the fact that he came calling and took her, somehow time ran out…how is that possible?
I watch the kittens playfully attack what I can only imagine are invisible butterflies, how happy they are.

We now number about 25 women, somehow we have found room for all to squeeze in and sit in absolute silence. Mama Marta lies down, her oldest daughter says a few words to her but she is unresponsive…I wonder what she is thinking. Safira starts to sing, we all join, beautiful melodies and harmony to soulful songs of eternal hope, sadness and the realities of how hard life is here. Again there is no respect for time, we just sing, I cannot tell you for how long we go, we just sing. Some ladies begin to quietly cry, mama Marta is still lying on the floor, I wonder what she is thinking. If you are watching this from a distance you would think there was a schedule to everything that is being done. As if on cue the men who were quietly sitted outside walk in, we women shuffle around to make room for them we now number about 35 people, we continue to sing, it’s getting darker, more women crying, I wonder what Mama Marta is thinking.

The kittens are playing outside now near a small garden of bright beautiful flowers. I hear the happy sound of children playing outside and cheerful chirping of crickets announcing that night has come, the neighbours are outside cooking supper for Mama Marta and her family.Life goes on.

We keep on singing, the men join us.Then my father speaks a few words…I cant remember most of what he said, I think it went along the lines of standing beside a hurting mother and holding on to the hope, we as christians shall see her daughter one day. We continue sitting in silence until it starts to rain then we slowly shuffle out of the house, mama Marta does not seat up to say bye…I wonder if she will ever be the same again…I wonder if she will die from a broken heart.

How does one run out of time?

Aulina (pronounced Awwlina) was my friend, she was 22 years old married and 7 months pregnant with her first child. Four days ago her mother received a call that she was dead and so was her baby, there had not been any warning of her sudden departure. Doctors wont explain what went wrong. In two hours time, I shall be attending her burial … how does one run out of time?

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4 thoughts on “The Wake

  1. Shula, not heard from you for some time now. Hope all is well with you. I missed your posts.
    Sent from my hand held

    • hey, just been dealing with a lot since coming back, lost my desire to write or photography. Today was the first time I felt “I am finally coming out of the woods.” Hoping that it wont take long for me to post something again. I missed my posts too 🙂

    • got back from the burial an hour ago. Its still not clear what exactly happened. One person who was with her say she was alive when she arrived at the hospital her BP was super high (200) but the doctors have signed papers saying she was dead upon arrival. I dont know if we will ever know what exactly happened in the hospital room with the doctors. So sad that this is a common occurence here most government doctors just dont care.

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