Wait 13

A woman shambled past, smiling and singing to her god and looking bemused at the washing line looped loosely around her wrists by the family members with her.

Nkosi yam… (my god)

I was sitting on a bench with some people waiting for a blood test and as the woman’s family ushered her gently past, a woman next to me joined in.

Nkosi yam, baba siyakuthanda… (my god, father we love you)

There is (obviously) singing in all cultures, I just happen to live where the singing doesn’t necessarily require any particular environment or reason. The woman having blood drawn was singing at just above usual speech level, the woman next to me sang just below it.

Wasifela thina (you died for us)
Ngokuba usithanda (because you love us)
Wanqamlezwa wena (you were crucified)
Wab’ ungenatyala (though you were innocent)

(Do you mind needles? The tats all down my left arm are a nice little icebreaker when I’m getting blood tests, because it’s so obvious that I’m not about to faint at the sight of a needle. Maybe it’s a pleasant change being able to stick one into a picture too; they usually go into a tree root, or just above the blue moon. Not even once in the blue moon though.)

Judging by the sound, but not content, of the singing, the woman wasn’t a big fan of needles. Spot the pinprick…

Nkosi yam
Nkosi YAM!
Nkooooooosi yam

A tall rasta guided her gently out of the room afterwards and the rest of the family followed.

Usually when I see restraints and hear wailing in that place, the distress is almost tangible. It wasn’t in this instance, it was all rather matter of fact. “She’s singing off key,” said my shrink, “and my ward is full.”

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” There are too many stories in this room, ” said my friend.

19 responses to “Wait 13

  1. Muy bien amoeba mia. What lovely distractions-the singing and your tats. I loathe waiting rooms and waiting. You’re fortunate to have the support of your shrink and friend . Be well. Xx

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Yeah! WOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOO! FUGAZI!!! You just made my morning…my bro and I do a cover of this and it’s uber cool to hear the original again. ;)

    Liked by 1 person

      • Da link do not exist, baby…don’t have the rights to it. :( We did a mad spree of covers for a month – a song a day. Hope we can get the rights to do a release someday.

        And yeah…VINYL. I be jelly!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I obviously loved the post, because duh…what’s not to love. Your writing is as spellbinding as usual. But there was something particularly beautiful and captivating reading the lyrics (well, the translation) and the black and white photos.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I can’t begin to tell you how different the environment is over there, and where I go for a blood test. (I fast, so I’m there at 8:00 a.m. – it’s like Dawn of the Dead)

    Sending you and S. my love, sorry this comment is so blah; I know you accept me, my blah-ness and all. Well, as long as I don’t become a $You-$Know-$What! ;)

    p.s. have you noticed how Leah Remini’s “controversial” I-Left- Scientology-themed book is selling like hotcakes; I’m pretty sure it’s the #1 New York Times bestseller!!!!????

    Take that, L.Ron Hubbard & Cruisevolta!


  5. I love the spare haunting mood of this piece. If you could get permission to photograph (w/o identifying anyone – no faces, odd angles) this could make a great photo essay. With empathy for the patients and respect for the professionals who deserve it. I bet many South Africans cannot imagine crossing the threshold of a state hospital. It could be eye opening.

    We don’t have private hospitals and some of the public ones are getting on. The part of the hospital I go to has that crumbling institutional feel (where else would they put the psych ward?) but it is, of course still light years away – unless you are homeless and aboriginal, then you too can die waiting in Emerg.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Maybe that’s not the right word. I was thinking of a longer piece – a collection of reflections on your experiences and the people you see alongside collages of the grainy images – essentially working these installments into one extended project. Blog posts, fragments, some of the perspectives of others (with identities changed) to create an image of mental health care in South Africa. Of course, your not supposed to take those pictures but they are great… and you feelings about going there are honest, raw and yet you feel fortunate for the care you get.

        I’m probably not practical, but I think your writing and images are very powerful. I am writing a lot these days, maybe I’m just getting carried away. :)

        Liked by 1 person

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