It is as if a lie

When they say

You are gone.

Just yesterday

You said that you

Loved me,

Today,

The warmth seeps out

Of my world

Like the soul, the life

Leaving,

The sanctity of

Your body.

It is cold, much colder

Out here without

You.

I never knew

In the wanderings

Of my mind

That a day like this

Might meet me

One day.

Just like I

Never wanted it

For you too.

Yet, here we are,

Sweet, dear, Love.

I heard a song on the radio the other day.

A part of me regrets

Never telling…


Like onions, people reveal themselves in layers through time. The more peels fall away, the closer one gets to the truth. But one never truly gets there, no. You work like a man looking for a needle fallen onto the floor in dark room, taking only from what you see and hear and are told, and you make up your own figure of the actual person. This is where the trouble starts. This building of the ideal version unleashes the imagination to tread wantonly, crazy-busy with colourful invention, teetering on the edge of fantasy and you’re whisked off into the…


Chapter 6: Tagore’s

The night was dark and young. No stars, no moon. The only light came from the line of streetlights, standing tall like deliberately equidistantly-placed ghosts, spitting out photons in the dark of night, an invention of man against the course of nature, of time. The three of them crossed the main road immediately before the Obz Square residence and got over to the other side. To their right, a car dealership that had had the same cars on display for two years now — Mandla once noted to Yonga. Past that was an unlit street that ran…


Chapter 5: The Norwood Bridge

Yonga’s parents were unbearable unwelcoming to the idea of intimacy between two men. Their comments when After Nine played on SABC 1 unambiguously told Yonga that. Which was why he had to lie whenever Luntu visited him at his house and called him his “friend from school” — if only to be with his guy. Luntu’s mother, however, flipped that coin. She welcomed Yonga affectionately. She didn’t seem to mind whatever was going on between the boys. Although, one day, all stern and staring him right in the eye, she said, ‘If you ever break…


Chapter 4: Remembrance

The decision to go or miss the house party altogether takes a turn and folds in on itself. What is the worst that could happen if he goes? There is absolutely nothing to lose. But first he would have to speak to Karabo. Tell him everything. It is either now or never — and never is not an option. At all. Before Yonga leaves this room this evening Karabo will have known that he loves him. Finally he will tell him. Finally.


Chapter 3: Have you ever done this before?

After signing Karabo in at reception, to curious glances from the security assistant behind the thick glass, conversation — if it is to be called conversation — in the elevator was somewhat awkward. ‘So, you’re good?’ Yonga, a little tipsy, kept on asking. ‘I’m good,’ Karabo kept on responding with a nod and a smirk like a parent detecting prior naughty behaviour from their child. The sixth floor seemed a long way up. Finally, the elevator beeped, the doors pulled apart. As they walked, Yonga in front, a slapping sound came from…


Chapter 2 : Meeting

Given the nature of their meeting, Yonga had dampened his expectations of Karabo. The logic was that there must have been something wrong with these people who go online to meet men, otherwise they wouldn’t be there. He was sitting at his grey, fitted desk that April Saturday mid-morning, browsing through profiles on a dating app. The robust orange-yellow branding of the app amused him somehow. The photos of naked torsos and loins of men of varied shades and shapes and sizes thrown randomly among actual (if they were) faces of these people as profile pictures…


Chapter 1: Invitation

The door clicks behind Karabo as he leaves the room for the toilet down the corridor. In bed still, and somewhat sweaty, Yonga watches him as he exits. He smiles to himself, shake his head with a chuckle. His body bent over the edge of the bed, he fumbles in the brown leather, vintage bag next to the leg of the bed and retrieves a box of cigarettes. He extracts one and ignites the stick with a match. He pulls indulgently, exhales; the smoke floats with something of a sigh. There is something that borders on satisfaction…


1.

There once appeared a man in the town during that time of sweet delusions and new beginnings. People named him after the subject of the one and only song that ever left his mouth. Xaluva. Nobody knew his real name, nor does anybody now. Nobody knew, as still nobody does, from where he had come. And nobody knew how old he was, they could only estimate — early twenties, they said. Song wasn’t the only thing he appeared with. His coming was twinned, the Oldies say, and so does history, by the change that they had long been yearning…


Weary and weak,
But happy somehow.
Lonely and depressed,
But like a ghost
Of these indescribable feelings,
Happiness looms somewhere.

Lonely, depressed,
I know it’s there – somewhere.
Tired, confused,
Happiness peppers my days,
Clings to the walls that keep me in this abyss,
Like a ghost of these indescribable feelings.
Helping me forget.

But a smile, a laugh, a dance,
Are not exactly things I know
To pepper the days of one
In a situation like mine.
So I try to find the reason for this happiness.
And I find that I don't need one.

But my cynical self
Refuses…

Anathi Jongilanga

young, black, wild (and free?). queer. writes. editor and curator of ‘Go the Way Your Blood Beats: New Fiction from Africa’ published by Brittle Paper.

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