Short story | Limbo

Words by Carol Kagezi and photography by Niamh Walsh-Vorster

They say time heals all wounds.
What they neglect to tell you is what happens when you get lost in time.
They do not tell you that dawn on Monday will turn into dusk on Sunday;
get lost in the days, unable to dance to the rhythm that governs the world.

Just as my rhythm syncs with that of Mr Time, I am roused from a mid-afternoon nap by an influx of phone calls and messages from friends far away from Grahamstown. They are informing me that one friend, Noma* has been shot in the face, the other, Grace* has been arrested during a collision between student body and police in the heat of the Fees Must Fall student protest.

I quickly find out that Noma has been taken to the referral hospital, Settler’s. With another friend, we rush to her aid and there we are met with the distasteful service the hospital has been so notorious of offering. I wait with Noma who has a bandage over her one eye. She is sobbing and persistently questions me about Grace’s whereabouts. I have no answers to her questions. I have questions that I cannot ask either -she is in no state to answer them.

The phones start again. The persistent buzzing as the concerned call and send messages. They had heard.

I am stuck. Stuck in this present and a history I have tried to bury for awhile. Her blood-stained phone morphs into my own blood-stained phone the night Mama so suddenly met her creator. Her light blue ripped jeans, stained with her own blood conjure up the smell of Mama’s that stained my dark blue jeans, hands and black sheer shirt. Darkness rapidly chases daylight and it is nighttime now. Still, Noma has not yet received anything for the pain. The nurses promised to bring something two hours ago when they had stitched the cut just under her right eye that was a result of the impact of the rubber bullet on her smooth brown skin.

I wash my hands in the sink, just as I had seen the nurses do after she was stitched up. I wash them six more times — remembering the blood-stained phone which I wipe seven times more.

*Names have been changed

This piece was first published in Edition 14 of Ja. magazine.

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