/ 21 May 2021

what life; i insist on dying here

Uthuli Othulini 2
Uthuli Othulini, a series of images from the work of Nkazimulo Moyeni

i insist on dying here. tongue hanging from the side of my mouth –

drool and blood, together watering the abandoned lands of never been here.

the sun shines inwards in this place, rain erupts from the bottom like springs or like the cry of widows who will never again experience the taste of lips, deprived – the passionate kiss.

but that does not matter, what does passion have to do with death?

no love in this place but i insist on dying here before i die i want to see through Marechera’s fucking window: ash smeared, two cracks and bird crap in the middle. impenetrable but i stare, hopeful that my gaze might pierce through it. & see what’s behind the frill lace curtain. see my mother’s face beneath the blanket, tears digging furrows in her cheeks. i want to study the movements of the mouths from which the slow hymns of mourning come from. it is not enough that i hear the humming. i want to see the mattress, the saucer with incense and eight women wearing the silence of years of yearning.i recognise the song they are singing. it is the same song we sing when we are drunk, searching for more and staggering down the streets of yeoville. We also sing it when the clocks strike 13 in hilbrow, xa ndiyekelelwa nguwe ndo phalala njengamanzi, the ezra ngcukana or mongezi feza arrangement. tonight these women are singing it next to my father’s dead body. i want to see if he is snug inside that coffin, is he staring up or his face is already turning grey from all the days he spent in the cold. in the cold of joburg factories, in the morning cold waiting for a taxi to be full. has his face turned grey because his blood no longer moves or is it because for years everything has always been still? i would ask him but i can no longer see him, i cannot see through that fucking window.

Uthuli Othulini 3 (Nkazimulo Moyeni)

how can i not be sorry that my father is dead? what difference does it make that i am sorry? when things die others replace them. other black colours, other numbers, things have to keep moving. where is he going from here? will he toil or be spoiled in that place? is there blood or streams of tears? if i follow him, will he shun or be proud of me?  

there is something about the way the cow bellows tonight, there is an air of loneliness in its cry almost as if it is aware that it will be sacrificed. it stares up in the sky, the blackest sky i have ever seen. the stars are there but i refuse to see them or even acknowledge their light. tonight they bleed darkness. the cow bellows again, shakes the tree that it is tied to and a couple of dead leaves fall on the soil slowly. iwile lembewu the women sing. i wonder, does my father hear and see all of this, all of this thing that i cannot explain?

they do not sleep, umlindelo. It is a night of song, prayer and a chance for old relatives to again experience the thrill of incense. the song and prayer inside the house becomes the soundtrack to heavy-breathing-cousins-kissing-behind-cars-toilets-shacks-bushes or whatever private space they can find. desire and pleasure do no dissipate at the presence of a corpse, funerals are not only for those grieving but also for those starving, bored, pretending and want to engage in drinking. umlindelo tonight. i imagine, my father there thinking, ‘what are they doing? do they not see that i am sleeping?’ but why should people care? ritual is not for those who are dead but it is there to satisfy the skewed beliefs of those still alive, those unable to understand things and choose to hide behind rituals. but wait, what do i know for i cannot see behind that fucken window?

Uthuli Othulini 1. (Nkazimulo Moyeni)

morning jumps at us, the sun not bright, dark as the night in our hearts. the chickens already up, fighting over crumbs of cake dumped outside the kitchen door. the windows sweaty, threatening to remove the smeared ash. water boils in big pots at the fireplace next to the rondavel.

laughter only once, a bout.

we bath, we clothe.


today is the day of the funeral.

The poem is extracted from an upcoming anthology titled these are not poems. these are not poems is a project uncertain. not quite sure what it wants and what it needs. it is a project in search of truth. all kinds of truth, timeless truths, fleeing truth or any truth(s) that promise to bear some fruit. the projects searches in the crevices, in terrains untraversed, ignored, spit on and distraught.