I am the innocuous onlooker on the bridge of his nose, a keen witness to his life and times. I was there when at 12 his father, Nkosi Mphakanyiswa breathed his last and King Jongintaba Dalindyebo wiped the tears streaming down beside me and said I was now his, and he, mine. I shuddered with the rest of his nose when our primary school teacher, without our consent, concluded Rolihlahla was too much of a mouthful and christened him Nelson. Till now the thought tickles me, did that make me a Christian mole?
Even when I was not clearly visible, I was always there for Nelson under the surface, an unspoken but vivacious part of his identity. I bobbed up and down on his face as we fought injustice at Fort Hare, spoke for the down trodden, and gave blood, tears and years whenever prejudice reared its unsightly head. We stayed up all night, eyes glued to lengthy legal letters, as he struggled through his articles at Witkin, Eidelman and Sidelsky.
I swear I lost a heartbeat when I saw Evelyn. She radiated a peace I had never experienced in her dazzling white nurse uniform. I too was drawn to her brilliant eyes and soft skin. I found myself subconsciously searching for a mole on her face… ok a small blackhead? Dimple? Any spot at all? My God! She was flawless!
It is 2016. The apartheid war has been fought and won (Or has it?). We have ruled our dear nation and left an eternal legacy behind. I have loved, lost and loved again. Now I rest silently on Rolihlahla’s skeletal face but we are not at peace. Our people have left the enemy at the gate and cut up our brothers at home… like amnesiac bloodletting butchers.
art by @iamloocas (Instagram)