Sunday, September 12, 2010

How they would wish to be remembered

Just before I could unpack my bags after the Sadc poetry festival 2010 in Gaborone, two dear souls departed. An uncle and two days later, a great friend's mother.So I hit the road and could not post anything here (and I could not say anything about the great people I met for the first time at the festival; the likes of Mozambican poet, Tania Tome and Botswana's Kaone Koka (oh, what a voice and emotion!) Instead, i will post below David Mungoshi's poem about death. As you put the dead to rest, you reflect on how they would wish to be remembered.

How They Would Wish To Te Remembered
The old woman - wrinkled and wry
Spoke in a tremulous voice
And made her wish:
Lay me down
At the passing of my days
Against the polished earthen bench
Where once rivers of my blood
Signalled new lives.
Let my eyes caress
One last time
That old fading sun
And when my eyes
Smart from the smoke
Feed the fire with munhondo faggots
Then fan it and let it blaze
Like the passion that once filled my breast.
Let no one stand by the door –
I must bid a last farewell
To the blades on the grass
The leaves on the trees
And that stony path
I have walked so often.
Sit by me quietly if you can
As the strains of the song
Of the laughing dove
Nod me gently
Into the unseen world of my fathers
Till at last you put me to rest
Under the ancient wild fig tree
Where the spring bubbles.

The vivacious woman – vibrantly alive-
Glowing with life’s red embers
Spoke with feminine exuberance:
If ever I should be remembered
Let it be as one
Who lived and loved
When she would –
One whose laughter and sighs
Have blended with the wind
And the breeze
In a felicitous song of life.
All my life
I’ve done what I know best –
I’ve been a woman!

The lonely leper full of disfigured zest:
Freedom and flight
Sustain his pavement and bus stop existence.
The words he spoke montage of harsh experience:
Let me be remembered
As one who threw off the shackles
Of social indifference.
No one would shake my hand
Or share a meal with me.
I became a stranger in the land
So I left, to struggle and be free
In the hot sun
And the biting cold.
I am one from a rare breed –
A professional survivor
Quite at odds with greed
But comfortable with the laws of survival
My epitaph?
He too loved to cuddle
And drown in woman’s blissful embrace.
He too would have driven a Bluebird
If he could –
And reclined in the effeminate softness
Of those cushioned seats
But life threw him to the pavements
Where he found a paradoxical kind of freedom.

The old man – battered and bald
Shaking finger pointing at me
Blessed me with the wisdom of the ages:
Young one, walk with care
For your road leads to where I am.
One day you too will be willing
But your flesh will be weak
They look more beautiful each day
But you cannot retrace time though you would
When it’s all over for me
Remember me as one
Who could have done great things
Had time been on his side?
*** By David Mungoshi

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