Light and Dark

I used to scan through your hints like one scans through a book with pretty pictures, without diving in first ... I did not understand. It sank in all of a sudden as I was staring blankly at the clouds beneath, flying back from the place in between the mountains where you were born and lived for one day. I had just closed the last page of Mandela’s biography, which took boredom out of the forever I spent in the airports. I was done hiding my tears from strangers, wiping them off the pages that struck me so deep. I looked into the thin stripe of blue light, the place of safety above the storm. My mind was wondering. I haven’t been thinking of you for weeks now, but somehow you have ways of intruding my head when I least expect it. "I am crazy," you whispered once, and "I am light and dark," you wrote another time using those little magnets on my fridge. Of course you didn’t mean the surface, the mere pictures in your book, the outside that sometimes fools us into walking in circles around the meaning that is so obvious. How blind was I to never dig deeper?

I dropped my bags in the doorway and rushed to my desk, frantically reading words and faces you put on the screen. There it was, sitting in the open, yelling at me for taking so long to hear. Forgive me my blindness. I would have strangled my pride in its cradle if I only knew how much of you I misunderstood.

One half.

I wish I could go back and touch your life, my dear friend, the way you touched mine. You woke me up like the rain wakes a leaf in a desert, helping it fight the draught for the right to grow again, washing its memory clean of the dry comfort of the sun, bringing back the time long forgotten, when it first tasted the storm and danced with the wind and bloomed so carelessly, when it wanted to live for the sake of the landscape around it, not the survival itself.

So does my mind.

Currently listening: Vuli Ndlela (Accept the Situation) by Brenda Fassie

The book mentioned in the post: Nelson Mandela: No Easy Walk to Freedom by Barry Denenberg


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