Learning From Genocide

Her soap, undergarments, silk stockings, strands of hair lay everywhere for-the-world-to-see.

Her perfume, cooking-skills and incense fills my head. She is preparing a roast, 7mgg mapping it out with delightfully-nutritious-perfection-in-the-kitchen. We will all sit down to eat. With-the-family-life we’ve-been-storing-it-up. We’re all starving with hunger. Pouring-the-stealing beauty-of-the-kitchen-table-and-the-lust-for-the-feast-in-front-of-us-into-all. Her eye is a map, her hands smell like jasmine, her hair like gossamer and she is his dream come true. Her laughter is a custard apple, a cabbage rose, never-ending. We drink tea for hours confiding in each other insanely hypomanic as we discuss men and the objects of her affection, her children, and her lover.

Bellies full of a pretty food chain, a location for a nurturing position, prep, manguerose even grief we tell each other comes with gifts (endurance and forgiveness, a reason to validate, to forget, have an opinion whether it be relevant or irrelevant), future leaders leaning towards being proactive. Even in a war, in Nazi Germany there are whores of Babylon, stockings, a Hitler with a moustache, a world where Mussolini an ally and propaganda, where all the dead can’t be remembered, names forgotten everyone but once there was a pianist according to Polanski.

My head is lost in films, the opposite of the dark, a woman reading in a library, our South Africa, the Group Areas Act, my violent home, the brutality of man against man in my country. Yellow stars once upon a time marked a Jew’s coat, their lovers and their spirits, scorched them, and burned their intellect, their talent, roomidea mocking seduction and betrayal, mocking a syndrome. Listen. Listen as it settles like violence, the sea. The mocking sea. One day it will either say remember me like Ingrid Jonker’s (my superior older sister) black butterflies inside her head or wash away your sins. I wonder about her contemporaries, her lovers, her Brink, her Andre. The sea is mocking me. This great event that lies before me dying and living, giving away and receiving, nurturing schools and shark teeth and a feast of eyes. In front of the poet lies the landscape, the hill, the valley, the mountain, and the playing fields. The intelligent mind is appalled by the needle and the knife.

There’s a heavy sensation at play, a freeze and an arrangement of sorts that pales in comparison to anything else that life seems to offer, an appealing curation. It chills me to the bone that I am not wearing that white wedding lace, that ring and there’s gossamer fairy thread in the clouds above and a silver lining in every one. I’m a shell. Shadows lurk under the bed, in the closet. He doesn’t turn back. I’m falling (an antique). I’m an old soul that no one can understand, fathom, explain love, passion, having a spouse and companion too. She is old before her time. They all say that whoever they, they might be.

The community, estranged and immediate family, the stigma, the neighbours. It is not normal not to have a child, children, drive a car (my mother is superior to me in every way but I know that a long time ago over a decade this was not the case). It is not normal to live in the reality that I live in with recovery after recovery after suicidal illness and how disability has become familiar to me. First in my father’s life and now in mine. I am left to dream. I am left to dream of a Saviour who will rescue me on this ghost planet. Elizabeth Wurtzel’s Prozac Nation. I find sanctuary, peace of mind reading in a sofa. I find myself amongst my books and writing grants. South Africa can learn from Germany.

South Africa can learn from Sarajevo. South Africa can learn from genocide and the holocaust and the rest of the African continent. Her beautiful people, their diamond smiles, creamy-velvet skin and their bravery, their bold survival, their sensuality, how they have managed being silenced about slavery, spaice their footsteps in the dark, the beating of the drums, watermelons and mangoes, donkeys and carts. The enemy is the thief, the man and the woman, the German who causes heartache, what was really behind the Nazi vision? Hitler and his moustache? Was it an altered state of mind and separation anxiety? The rat’s spine is broken. It is a bleeding mass on the concrete. The dog has got to it first before the glued mousetrap. People who are hungry enough eat rats, squirrels too. Rats can be people too. If children are lucky enough they only learn that later in life after layers and layers of experience.

Germany was like South Africa a time out of place for some time, walls were built brick by brick literally and figuratively amongst the different race groups. It is still not forgotten. The people here have a long memory. The haves and the have-nots in a time not of their own making, an identity theory that is misplaced yet idolised at the same time, represented as the highest ideal and idea to live for and we believe that there is no revolution, no personal space for it, it’s evaporated like smoke. Where do the moths go when daylight comes if they are so attracted to the light? Do they come and go like an angel comes and goes.


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