The funeral (2/7)

By Drum Digital
14 July 2015

There’s bound to be trouble when you bury a man who has three wives.

Then she asked for forgiveness, saying, “Uxolo, Gogo. But you know what they say, a person laughs even when there is someone who’s dead.”

Gogo Thembi sucked her teeth, preparing to scold Thando, but remembered the task at hand and settled for a quick warning. “Thando, too much happiness can bring on calamity. And in our case, we can’t afford any more than what we’re dealing with now.”

Squashed into the back seat were three men who said nothing to the two women, but murmured from time to time.

Sandile’s grandfather and two uncles were holding the short leafy branch known as ihlahla, which had collected Sandile’s spirit and would carry it home to a final resting place in ancestral ground. The men holding this spirit-laden branch were forbidden to talk to anyone who was alive. So they kept on talking to the branch, telling Sandile how the journey was going, and which landmarks they could see on the trip back to his place of birth, the place of their fathers.

And the men kept murmuring, for they knew that if they failed to do so, the spirit could be left along the way and bring bad luck on Sandile’s family.

To be continued...

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