[2010] Milan Sichinga - All For John (1)

                                                                     CHAPTER THREE – JAMES

JAMES SAWA couldn’t make sense of it all. In a space of a week both his mother and brother had committed suicide. In a bizarre way he didn’t blame either of them, and that’s what hurt most; the fact that their actions somehow could be justified.

It was morning and he was so exhausted, he hadn’t slept a wink.

“I’m sorry James but I did it for him”

These nine words, scribbled on her note to him, had kept him up. He had just been tossing and turning on the bed, replaying his brother’s behaviour, recalling his mother’s actions, and every time he did the sleep had eluded him.

“I’m sorry James but I did it for him”

Yes she had. But she didn’t have to. There were other ways. She didn’t have to do what she did. It was all her fault, yes it was because she could do anything for his brother.

James hadn’t showered for three days. He’d been eating less and hadn’t spoken much, and when people passed their condolences and blessing he just looked at the floor without saying a word. He spent the whole ordeal despondent to everything.

The day had come unfortunately, they were going to bury his brother and perhaps pass their last respects. Just two days ago it had been his mother they were burying.

At St Luke Catholic Church all his relatives, friends, and mourners gathered. Vera town was in a standstill with vehicles lined up from mass media to Fridays Corner. You could think it was a state funeral or something.

Inside, the church was packed only on one side because of its enormousness. The seats were arranged like benches and went around in a sort of 180 degree angle such that if viewed from above the arrangement seemed like the bottom of a flask. The walls had mosaic and paintings of Jesus’ timeline, from his birth to his death and also to his resurrection.

When the priest spoke, everyone’s attention was directed at him and most mourners cried silently.

James wished it was all over and done. He hated funerals, they always crushed his bravery. Just staring at the casket on the catafalque demoralised him. If the ritual of body viewing wasn’t important in that it would be the very last time he would get to see his brother’s face –mangled and disfigured as it was going to be, he wouldn’t even have been there at the church in the first place.

The priest was preaching but he couldn’t hear a word. His mind was clumped with diverse thoughts. Idle talk had passed around the funeral home about him and the things that had happened.

His silence and isolation had alerted everyone, not forgetting the whiff coming from his clothes. He looked half-starved and was as filthy as a city market call boy. But the gossip hadn’t affected him; he couldn’t help but wonder why death was so secretive and unexpected. He wished his brother hadn’t felt the need to kill himself. Things would have worked out eventually.

When all the announcements had been made, everybody stood up and they were moving out from the backseat rows of the church. He gazed in front of him and noticed that the casket was gone and then he heard loud mourning from women outside.

He then knew the time had come.

When he got there he felt weak. He put on a brave face nonetheless and stood before the open coffin. When he saw his brother, he didn’t seem dead but asleep.

(If only I could shake him to life)

Tears rolled aimlessly down his cheeks, the moment was so poignant. He couldn’t help but weep. He reached inside the coffin, touched his brother’s face and stared at him in pain. He couldn’t believe he was gone, all trauma and insanity returned to him. While he stood there graciously he thought he saw John wink, his tears dried up quick and he was somehow upset.

But before he could think more of it, a wind blew on his face and he just frowned.

His Aunt came and put arms around him before softly dragging him away.

“I’m sorry James but I did it for him”


                                         CHAPTER FOUR – JANE


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