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  • I have lived through it all these past weeks: political and social upheaval, personal crisis, the death of my daughter – in – law, taking her body body to its cremation and returning with a box of ashes, the pain of life irresolvable, he silence of Death and the Unknown, the continual transformation from life to dust and dust into minds....

    The man, who wheeled her coffin to the fire was whistling and flirting with one of the undertakers, two women, a mother and a daughter. Both were giggling about the new boots the daughter had just bought, both were dressed in black, but sexy and cheerful. The mother asked me if the dead young woman was my daughter, not unfriendly, but lighthearted, chewing her chewing gum. I was relieved that I could say, no, she was my daughter – in – law. Had she been my daughter I would probably not been able to answer, I would have crashed right there in front of the undertaker.

    I slept for 12 hours, but I am still tired. I want peace.

    Instead they called me from my gallery: a madman stormed in with a huge hammer in one and a screwdriver in his other hand wanting to kill Esther, one of my long – time employees. She ran for her life into the kitchen of our restaurant, which is connected to the gallery. The cashier, waiters and cooks protected her. Nobody called the police and when the man gone wild could not find her he left.

    Crying she told me later that that man is her brother – in – law. A few days ago she told me she lives in a relationship since 7 years, a very good marriage. Now the other girls tell me, no, it is a bad relationship.

    It is just too much for me to deal with right now. I am grateful no tragedy happened. I sent her to a group that works with violence in families.

    I need to remember Life, Celebration, Goodness, Peace, Integrity and remember the Christmas we celebrated 2007 in Namibia:

    “For Christmas we want to take out 60 children from the Mondesa Township to play in the dunes, eat fruits and cake and give them the toys we have bought for them. During the past week Tia and Anna have helped us organize this event. We make an appointment for Christmas Day, three o’clock in the afternoon at the edge of the dunes towards the Swakop Riverbed, where the villas of well – off white people meet with the sacred Cemetery of the Herero.

    We arrive first. Our car is filled with cookies, juice, toys and cakes. At Three twenty still nobody has shown up. The streets lie deserted. “What do we do if they do not come?” asks my husband when we spot three old and barely moving taxis approach us. These are packed with children. They even hang half out the windows. When they come close we let them pass and follow them so that they can guide us to the best place for our celebration. Soon we arrive there; more than fifty pairs of huge dark black eyes study us. “I cannot believe that these kids are so quiet!” I say to Tia.

    “They are in absolute awe, because they were allowed to drive in a car!” she explains to me. Leaving the cars the kids soon become noisy and lively as kids do anywhere in the world. Her sister Anna has come and brought her two toddlers and their neighbor Mora is introduced to us also, a young smart – looking woman of just eighteen. The three taxi drivers also decide to accompany our fiesta.

    Tia organizes games with the children. Everybody runs up the highest dune as fast as possible. Tia is quite chubby, but that does not stop her from happily following the crowd. Anna, with her belly stays behind, she just reaches the first small dune on the way. Her two –year-old daughter is sick with a flu. She cries. She wants to be carried. She has fallen a little down the small dune Anna and I are standing on. I push my feet into the deep sand and move towards her. I pick her up and want to turn back and bring her to her Mom, but that was easily thought and is quite another thing to achieve: I walk and walk with the crying little thing in my arms, but I just slowly get up inches. The little girl notices that we hardly come closer to her Mom and starts crying harder. When I finally reach the top again and hand her over I am bathed in sweat.

    Then we eat. Tia has brought huge plastic bags for all the garbage. She gives the kids a little speech about how to deal responsibly with garbage. Then they all sing. We love our dunes, we love our dunes and we don’t leave garbage…they sing and clap and a few even start dancing with the rhythm. Then we give them the fruits, cakes and sweets. I am impressed: the kids each take their bag, search for a space where they can sit alone and quietly eat their little snack. They do not play around or joke much; it is as if each really concentrates on enjoying this treat consciously. I see that many carefully leave something in the bag to take home.

    My husband has brought his iPod with loudspeakers and now puts that out and plays Paloma Negra. Everybody is touched. The women, the taxi drivers and all the children come close and form a circle around us and the iPod. It gets quiet as if we were in a church. No quarrels, no speaking, they listen to the song as if it was the most sacred one in the world, not a romantic Mexican love – song. After it finishes there is one scream: Play it again! And again and again… We do.

    Then we give them their toys. Little girls lovingly cuddle their dolls (not one black doll was to be found in all of Swakopmund, all the dolls are white!!!), boys start playing with cars and trucks or Legos.

    As one taxi driver had to leave earlier we bring a load full of children back to their houses in the township. Tia and Anna come with us also. “Play Paloma Negra one more time!” they beg. We do. We sing with the music. The others join in, even though they do not know the words. We laugh, we repeat the song, we all are suddenly very happy. It feels like in Mexico, I think.”

    From my African Diary

    What a good day that was. Tia has died. Her laugh and energy gone. I always thought she would one day be a minister in Namibia. My daughter - in - law wanted to become a famous poet and she could have, hadn´t schizophrenia and too much LSD destroyed her sanity.

    I plan to just sit and watch for a few days. I hope life calms down and lets me do that. I plan to not write, because I remembered a saying of some Bushmen that I read while in Namibia. It said something like:" When you write something down you think that you know what you are writing down, but that is not so. Writing about something and knowing it are two completely different issues."

    Be happy, forgive, love.....NOW, if you are Christian or religious or not is not of any importance, be happy, forgive, love NOW!

    ______________________________________________________________________________________

    Photography by Kiki

    Cowbird here

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