Sound tracks from Chiwoniso Maraire

July 26, 2013

People I know don’t die. That was me. Just about five years ago. But people die all the time. I just couldn’t think of people in my family. Dying. I mean who? Then on 20 February 2010, my grandmother died. Like, yes, she died. She has been dead for three years now. The most important person in my life had died. At least that’s how it felt then. Perhaps it still does. And I started dying. Slowly. Inside. My therapy sessions intensified. I went on to psychiatric medication. I got lost in my world. I became dead to life. A part of me is dead. With my grandmother.

Oh shit! For a year, I lived in fear of losing someone else. But I knew no one else in my family was going to die. I thought of all of them. From my eldest uncle to youngest nephew. No, they can’t die. At least grandma was old. Old people die. Eventually. But then on 22 April 2012, my uncle died. Just like that. Then I lost it. I developed a death pattern in my head. Scary as shit. People in my family die between January and April in alternate years. Many years ago, my grandfather had died. 1 March 1992. My now-dead uncle’s wife is dead. 28 January 2007. But that is it. These were unusual deaths and I had come to terms with the fact that sometimes a person dies, then another, after many years. At least in my family.

14 April 2013 my aunt died. See? January- April. But this time a year wasn’t over. Again, I went back to that most-important-person-in-my-life feeling. I have not found reason for her death yet. And I don’t buy ‘we loved you but God loved you most’ style of erasing grief. I cry when I think of her. She was my grandmother’s gift to me. My grandmother told me, two months before she died, that I should take care of my aunt. I wanted to. I didn’t get a chance. But in my dreams I have communed with her. We have been talking. She is fine but I don’t know if I trust her. 

So, when people die in succession, you are forced to relive a certain kind of trauma. My friend died last week. I do not know how to think of her in isolation. I do not know how to see one death as unrelated to all the deaths in my life. The pain feels equally excruciating. The pain always feels recent. That all too familiar fear. Who next? Where do souls really go to when people die? Forget all the mythologizing about purgatory and all. Where do these souls go? Are they safe? Lonely? What exactly happens? When people die.

This fear is regardless of whether it’s people you know that die or whether it’s that perfect stranger with whom you become intimate. This familiar stranger with whom you’ve connected with through say art, politics, music, mutual suffering, proximity, whatever. Then the stranger dies. And you are back to that feeling. You are back to connecting so many deaths that your heart breaks with every recounting. Chiwoniso Maraire is dead. And yes, I am in pain. I wonder if she is fine. It doesn’t matter that she is so many things to so many people but she is Chiwoniso Maraire, a soul sister, a gift, a traveller who has travelled onto the other side. She is dead and a part of me has died. With her. Because death has chosen to destabilize my centre. I have died so many times in this life with death. I fear. Mwari vaita kuda kwavo .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdyWMa0rHow

 Comments: 2

  1. kb

    Duuuudddddeeeee, you have no idea how much this post resonates with me in such a deep level it actually makes me uncomfortable.

  2. kb

    Duuuudddddeeeee, you have no idea how much this post resonates with me in such a deep level it actually makes me uncomfortable.

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