Sat outside under a starry blue-green sky last evening and was eaten alive by mosquitos. Came in and began to doze off in front of the television after supper, went to bed. Somnolent, unaware.
Tremendous heat, stifling and close. Woke up at about 3am and looked out of the uncurtained windows at the grey wide skies and remembered advice Colette once gave to a would-be writer friend: ‘Look hard at what gives you pleasure, and even harder at what causes you pain.’
I have been trying to think about the things that leave me indifferent and that is not helpful. What I need to do is to probe the wounds and to do that with others, not alone. Dreamt that a group of seriously wounded people dug up my mother’s body in a neglected graveyard way out in the dusty scorched veld and found she was still alive, moaning and with bleeding cracked lips, her eyes imploring. Wanting to be killed all over again and not to have to do it herself.
I got up and went to the bathroom, looking out at the shining dark leaves of the avocado tree in the dawn light, hearing the dogs snoring. Haunted and pursued by the past, by the memory of her suicide, by all that is left undone and unfaced in my past.
My story is that of a runaway. I fled from catastrophe and carried the burning house somewhere deep within me, a conflagration consuming me from the inside, blackened walls and smouldering ruins. My family, those still alive, are sitting waiting for me to come back and tell them why I ran away and that I am still a daughter and sister. But I do not know who I am.
There is a conflagration and a terrible darkness within — what is the next right thing to do? So much is not my fault, not the responsibility of the child I was then, abused and lied to and ill-treated and silenced, driven away. But when I reached adulthood I took revenge in another kind of silence and staying away in the geographic sense while sending messages like judgments or indictments from the tribunal. How is all this to change? I forgive, I say, and still there is a grave between myself and those still alive. My mother’s suicide, the incompleteness of that death, that choice that was not a choice.
Conscience is not wisdom. It is not even the beginning of wisdom. But there is all the same the desire to find a quietus of sorts, to make peace with one’s own conscience. Taking a deep breath and trusting to the hard looking inward. The ‘how’ of it will emerge in time.