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Makate Rapulana
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Colour Emancipation: The Struggle to end all struggles

29 May 2014, 15:35
...sitting on a rocking chair, a tattered shawl loosely draped across his lap, old and bent, hands shaking from Parkisons, loose teeth yielding to gravity, joints afflicted with arthritis - wrinkled, withered face, a mottle of black and white stubble  - a picture of misery - ample time to reminisce on wasted years gone by, on opportunities not exploited, on pathetic ideologies, futile wait on men trusted,  on 'promises' made but never kept, - like a firefly lighting a pitch black tomb, the realisation dawned - all those matches, all those rallies, all those colours donned, all those heated debates - all in vain.
Sleep descended, wrapped around him like a mist in a cold winter morning, inevitably he dreamt, the same dream he dreamt every night. Once again falling, same pitch black abyss, suddenly the falling stops yet he hit no ground - suspended in mid-air - heart pounding, threatening to rip out his chest cavity. The hand was coming he knew, the same hand that came for him every night, in the overpowering darkness, eyes as good as blind, he felt powerless. The hand - cold as a meat locker - closed around his throat. He tried to prise the hand off but he felt no hands of his own. A cacophony of accusatory voices, accusing him of a deed past rose all around him. He tried to mumble a protest but all he managed was a phlegm-laden croak as the hand tightened its grip, asphyxiating him. Suddenly all was quiet; he could feel an accusatory finger pointing point-blank at his forehead. A low voice, a fraction of a decibel above a whisper, soft as a ghost's fart: "I accuse you of a wasted life" - it said. The vice grip loosened around his neck and the free-fall down the abyss continued. The ground rushed up to meet him.
He jolted out of his unpleasant nap, to find his grandson staring up at him, a baffled look painted on his face. Grandpa why did you say: “I am guilty, I am guilty” when you were sleeping, his grandson asked. The old man stared morosely at his grandson, in whose eyes he saw his own reincarnation, his own atonement, his chance at a future frittered away. In his grandson he would redeem himself. 
In a weak voice the old man called to his grandson, scooped him up and sat him on his lap. For the next two hours the old man used his grandson as a confessional box. Relieving himself of the burden of guilt, of embarrassment, of failure he has been carrying around in his heart for many years. The grandson, who could hardly put two words together to form a sentence absentmindedly fiddled with his wooden toy car oblivious of the severity of the torrents of words hitting him. 
Suddenly the grandson stopped fiddling; looked up at the old man, and it was at the point when the old man was saying: “Never believe that any man out there cares about your wellbeing, never believe the flimsy promises they make to you. The only promise you have to believe in is the promise you make to yourself. All freedoms will remain unattainable until you attain the freedom of the mind. Once your mind is free from ideologies not your own, you will come to realise the indignity inherent in the reverence of man. Refuse to don his colours, pick your own colours and wear them with pride. The noose of poverty around your neck will turn into a necktie; the brick in your hand that you are about to throw at the police will turn into a pen.”
The old man, joints creaking, rose from the chair, legs heavy as an old coal stove, and trudged back into the house. He pulled from under his bed a battered rusty trunk that has for remained untouched. From the pocket of his quaint, moth-eaten jacket he fished out a lone key tied to a shoestring. It took a couple of minutes as the old man willed his unsteady hands to obey the instructions from his brain, the padlock disengaged as the key hit home.
He rummaged through and pulled out a drawstring bag that he took back outside. He loosened the strings and shook out its contents. A scowl on his face lent testimony to the disdain with which he held this baggage of his past. A faded t-shirt with a huge logo emblazoned on the front, a photographer’s jacket with a logo of some sort, a beret, and a motley assortment of red, yellow, blue, and green. He could not help his mind drifting back to the time when he was an agile young man, in the prime of his life. How he followed all those colours with unquestionable loyalty, blindly defending them from those with a different viewpoint. 
He took out his Benzine lighter and set ablaze the source of his misery. As he stood back watching the blaze reduce his past life to a smouldering heap of carbon, a sense of enlightenment settled on him like a biblical dove.
For the first time in his life he was able to turn his back on the colours that defined his ephemeral years of youth, colours that brought him nothing but anguish.
He sat back on his rocking chair watching his grandson; something akin to a smile parted his patched lips.

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