Kindness

by Abigail George

 

The red seed of an abortion flowing out of the woman’s body. Nobody talks about backstreet abortions anymore in Johannesburg. You can go to any clinic. The red seed growing and growing of cancer cells. How can I be delivered from those things? How can I escape, forget? I ran away before to another city but I don’t think I can do that again. I’m too grown up. I am too set in my ways.

I’m safe here. Amongst these houses. In this house. In this suburb. The elite. Those are two words that mean absolutely nothing to me. What does being wealthy mean for humanity at large? It is a meagre one percent. I do not count myself amongst them. It is not my money. It doesn’t belong to me. I didn’t work for it. I’ve wasted years, energy on a variety of things. I tried to educate myself but the real world is a machine and it spits you out if you do not fit. If you’re unconventional. If you’re ugly and emotional. Sylvia Plath is so beautiful, all her doll parts. I’m obsessed with her. I eat to live. I eat to live, to survive another day in modern society although it stinks to high heaven with shadows and insecurity.

The house belongs to my parents. My brother is fixing it up. His son’s name is Ethan. His girlfriend’s name is Rose. He does some painting. He has a patch of garden where he is growing vegetables. He says we are going all out organic in a big way. We have to eat healthy. He is so handsome but now he is taken. All the girls wanted him. They danced around him. All he had to do was to click his fingers. He could have anyone. I had all these dreams of living in a world-drama like that.

I am rich in other ways. I see now that spiritually I am richer. I mean to say that perhaps in the beginning stages of my life, in the formative years my mental faculty was not as rich as it is now.

Johannesburg smells. It smells of poo, dirt, urine, pavement meeting rain, thunderstorms, white snow spreading out like a blanket, smoke, people, blood, cars, trains, pollution, mines, funerals, and films. I love films. Faster, faster, faster is how everything goes there.

I know you. I’ve always known you. You knew that then and you know that now. I am not coming for you anymore. You’re history remember. Funny how we never said that word goodbye as if we were both reaching for something. Are you lost heathen?

I want to write to her, my sister who wants to travel the world but I do not want to write to her not of suffering, loss, sadness, the mourning period, a stolen kiss in the cemetery and not the peck on the cheek kind. I want to be overwhelmed by the brethren’s kindness. I know she won’t reply though. She’s the pretty one. She’s the one I make most nervous. How I work on her acute dopamine and serotonin levels. Shame on me. Shame on her.

During the cocktail hour in my house the world becomes a new place. Mummy and Sissy. And then there’s a calm breeze that floats through the house. Sissy is short for sister. The awfully good middle child. The achiever. Invincible Superwoman. I have a rush of love for her. For mummy too even when she’s at her terrifying worst. The vodka loosens the tongue. I can hear laughter, cackling even. They’ve finished the orange juice and that makes me mad. They know I can’t drink the strong stuff, the heavy stuff.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt brave enough to feel that vulnerable in front of someone else. Man, woman, child did it matter.

You who do not know me, of me, what I have carried for years, the internal struggle I have been in, had to spirit away while nations have been at war I think of your kindness. You came like a thief in the night.

Focus on what I am trying to tell you. The January heat of the sun is pinned to my cheek, there are tears building up inside of me like sap when I remember you. Golden-gorgeous-genius you as much of a lover of words as I am. And when I think of magnificent you, that incredible phase in my life (past is past but still you are not dead to me and still further along you are not a ghost) I think of you as a cure, an anchor, a door that is left ajar for a visitor, and when I think of you I drown but not in despair or shame (blush of red on my cheeks). I drown in hope. I forget that you killed me once, perhaps on more than one occasion.

Write. Write words. Anything that takes your fancy, pleases you, makes you glad and see the loveliness in the world. Now that’s a mantra.

Smile. Pick up the fragments, the small bits and littler pieces.

Sylvia Plath wrote about kindness and words, their purity, clarity, poetry, dryness. It came like a flood out of her, pouring out like machinations, sunshine, liquid, the blue jewel of the sky. I think it became necessary for her in a way like writing has become necessary for me.

I need you Sissy but you’re not there. You’re not connected to me in the substantial way we were once as children. Sometimes I call her Jean in my stories or Eve.

I’m scared. I do not want to go back there again, held hostage by deep pain and regret. Where are these words coming from? I do not know. To question it means the death of me.

You don’t know anything about me. I prefer it that way because if you knew anything about me it would mean the death of you. I’m awfully mean. I’m a miserable person. I’m miserable company to be around with. I am not an idol or a celebrity. I am not a god or a leader of a secret cult. So do not worship me. Food for thought. I will let you down. I cannot nurture anything. I will let you down badly. Keep your expectations to yourself. You in all your loveliness, splendour and wonder I surmise will need it more than I do.

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