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