Eight days into lockdown, Baba is home every night ,he shares meals and childhood adventures with us. The fire is his eyes is reignited; lighting up his face. There is no reek of alcohol in his breath, no anger in his voice; and there is no disgust or fear in Mama’s. The void of silence and thick tension that use to consume us, is now filled with laughter ,and proximity.
It’s in the way he looks at Mama, with that stuporless glare of adoration and remorse. Contemplating and regreting his past actions. It’s in the way he humours my little sister’s million questions ,and the energy with which he feeds her curiousity, as if he is just discovering Fatherhood for the first time in his sobriety.
Maybe there is good to come off this lockdown, just maybe this will mark the end of absence, and emotional deadbeats will understand the impact of mere presence. Mhlambe this —enforced time with family and all those that matter—will provide rehabilitation, and we won’t have to lose anymore siblings and role models to the abuse of substances.
Maybe Baba will again feel more at home in this one room slum with us, than at the tavern pits with moral-less scavengers .
Maybe beyond this ,the good will outweigh the bad. And time spent caressed by the energy of those that value us , will help us gain a little bit of humanity, and we’ll look at responsibilty as another way of cultivating empathy .
Just maybe…. ©