The death of a parent can be life altering.
Where does one even get the strength to move on and pick up the pieces of their broken heart after losing someone so dear?
These were some of the questions comedian Ndumiso Lindi had to contend with following the passing of his father, Lungile Lindi, in July 2018.
While many people have pet names or affectionate ways of calling their parents, Ndumiso says he had so much reverence for his father that names like timer or pops would never do. He just called him Tata.
His father’s passing knocked him in the gut, Ndumiso tells Drum, and he even had to go to therapy to try come to terms with his loss.
“I looked up to him a lot, he taught me everything about being a man and I can confidently say I am the man that I am today because of how he raised us.”
One day, in a session with his therapist, she suggested that he write a comedy show, to put into words what he was feeling inside.
He then started writing his one man show, Boys Don’t Cry.
“That is how this show was born.
“The title is a play on words. When we were kids, if you fall and cry you would get told that boys don’t cry. And so you go through life bottling things or feelings inside and you kind of want to persevere and not release.
“Then something as permanent as death forces you to demolish all those walls you had put up all your life.”
He says years ago during a heated family meeting he started to cry and his brother said he could not cry but his father interjected and said he should be allowed to cry it out.
“And so for a little while, everyone was just silent, waiting for me to finish crying.”
That was just one of the many times that Ndumiso says his father validated his feelings.
The one man show is a tribute to his father, where he shares stories, jokes and lessons from his father.
“It is a very personal show. It is about dealing with loss and grief, but at the end of the day people have to laugh. I did not want his passing to just go by as if nothing had happened. I wanted to honour in the best way I know how.
“My father played a huge role in my life and he always led by example. Growing up, if he told us to wash dishes and we delayed because we were watching TV, we would simply hear him washing the dishes in the kitchen and we would race there to take over because we were embarrassed that he had decided to wash them himself.”
He describes his father as someone who seemed to have all the answers in life and now he feels the responsibility to move on with his life, continuing his legacy and carrying on with that wisdom.
While most parents discourage their children for following careers in the arts, his father never did.
“He was always supportive of my decision to do comedy. To the point that whenever I performed in the Eastern Cape, he would travel from Zwelitsha to wherever I was performing. And if I had big show in a different province, he and Mama would always make sure they were in the audience to support me.”
One of the things he talks about in the show is how the Eastern Cape sports department has missed an opportunity to tell the stories of sports legends in that province. His father was a former social development director-general and rugby administrator in the Eastern Cape.
“It saddens me that those stories are not told nearly enough. Now it’s as if black people were only introduced to sports like rugby in 1994.”
Talking about grief, he says it can catch at the most unexpected times like when you’re driving alone in your car or randomly as you come out of the shower.
“I lost all my composure when he died and I did not want to be strong. And through my father’s teachings, I have learnt that I can be vulnerable and my masculinity or manhood is not changed.
“The show has light bits that make you laugh and some parts that make you sad because you resonate.”
He cannot wait to perform at the Guild Theatre in East London on 25 February.
“Performing in different parts of the world is great and the traveling is fun too, but nothing beats performing to your own people. And to be able to talk about my dad to people who knew him is an honour. Performing this one man show in places like Joburg, Cape Town and Durban has been great and I cannot wait to take it back home.”
Ndumiso is known for always wearing a hat, but for Boys Don't Cry he keeps it off, out of respect for his father.
"I initially felt naked without my hat, but I have since become more comfortable."