I try to remember, all I can recall is Silence
by Deirdre Prins-Solani, Program Lead Healing Through Memory and Objects (HTMO) program of the MAA, cultural heritage expert
It has been weeks now since I first attempted to write this piece. Weeks of starting and stopping, words weaving in and out – here now, poised at the tip of my pen and then – gone. Their aftertaste causing self – doubt, me, wondering whether I had actually held the thought in word weaves or whether it was me in one of my dream states. At some stage, I convinced myself that I had caught it – candy floss on a stick, piecing some of these thoughts into being and that was after having heard these words from songstress/poetess/healer Malika Ndlovu;
“Still, she’s no fool when it comes to the real thing; she has loved with abandon,
Has had her fair share of betrayal, been broken in battle, sacrificed and lost so much..”
for what I wanted to, want to, long to write about is the grief of the mother whose daughter chose to live her life seeking – seeking joy, seeking adventure, seeking self beyond the confines of the rolling green hills and plunging valleys of her birthplace, the mother whose son chose to live his life seeking – seeking the self he saw in his dreams, mirrored in the shared bucket of water drawn from the informal settlement well, the mother whose son got klapped because he chose to stand with grace and poise in her heels, chose revolutionary love, labeled a “moffie”, brutalised by the army general and disowned. The mother who lives to mother another child after one has been lost.
And thinking about how one would write about this grief entangled with pride at their daughter’s courage, their son’s tenacity colliding with layers and layers of religious moralities and dogma, intersecting with her anger at the profound loss. The loss of dreaming, the loss of a means to live a better life, the loss of ______ – words to speak a mother’s layer upon layer of sadness into a world where judgement reverberates/echoes back into her narrative of how her daughter, her son sought wholeness and self – fulfillment and for whom the toxic blend of chemicals came far too late. The loss of a child for a mother for whom the diagnosis came too late.
And I try to remember each and every story told me during our ‘healing through memory and objects’ process, attempting to recall the nuances the details in descriptions of those who remain behind of those they have lost…and somehow, all I can recall is Silence.
In spite of the body wrenching tears in the washroom after a mother has shared her story.
Even as a photograph is lovingly, longingly caressed.
As a tissue box is carefully reconstructed, decorated and embellished with beads and shweshwe cloth.
As a frame is made from discarded card, buoyant fabric and rainbow color beads.
And it is the word gift from a friend that echoes in the space between words;
“remember what it is that you had” Virginia Woolf
 Afrikaans for smacked, often against the head