The family walked slowly through the door, one behind the other, leaving the semi-darkness of the closed house for the bright sunshine which bathed the small town . They would not wait on me anymore. Of course, it was not important that they had left. It wouldn’t have been important either if they had stayed. I was satisfied, however, that they had left for I wanted to ne alone for a short time before leaving the dark house. At least, I thought I did.
I combed my hair looking intently at the reflection in the bathroom mirror. I was growing old. The lights beside the mirror highlighted the shadows on my face and accentuated the grey hair, rapidly replacing the black. First, there had been lines. Those were also being rapidly being replaced by furrows and pain had replaced the former bold lustre in my eyes.
I straightened my collar, passing my finger easily between it and my neck. I opened a button. I was not going to wear a tie. I adjusted my shirt in my pants and pulled the belt in another notch. I wondered momentarily if my clothes were appropriate but shrugged my shoulders admitting that I really didn’t give a damn. I walked into the adjoining bedroom, and sat on the edge of the bed. My only pair of shoes was unpolished and dusty. I dusted them lethargically with my socks. They still unpolished and dusty. I knew I should polish them , but again, I just didn’t give a damn. I returned to the bathroom and slowly polished them with a rag. Now, they looked shiny and old.
The church bell sounded muffled. I knew I should not be late, but lately, I was always late. Being late or early would certainly not make a difference today. In that respect, I knew I was right. It could be put down to my eccentricity. I smiled but it was a smile that remained deep inside of me so it did not light up face nor did it brighten my eyes.
I wondered if I should have a cup of tea. I always liked a cup of tea in the early evening. I walked over to the kitchen and looked through one of the half closed louvered windows and saw the church steeple. I hesitated. Years of discipline in the Colonial Public Service still fought a weakening battle with me. Perhaps, I should go. I lit the stove and stood beside it until the kettle whistled . I turned it off and walked towards the door.
I put the bug padlock on the door and locked out the bright sunshine from filling what had become a gloomy closed box. I placed my shiny old shoe against the bottom of the door which was now beginning to rot. I knew that soon, the rot would spread upward and the door would have to be replaced. At least, the door could be replaced. I had scuffed my shoe, dimming its lustre.
“Fuck.” I said it not particularly loudly but not softly either. No one was gonna hear me anyway. They had all left and were already at the event. And anyway, if anyone had heard, I just couldn’t, wouldn’t give a damn.
I walked down the stairs. The rails and treads were beginning to rot too. Rot seem to be only definite thing in life. Adjacent to the last tread was a hibiscus plant. Each peach colored flower is as big as a dinner plate. Each one is alive, beautiful and soft. I was tempted to pick and take it with me but I knew that immediately after removing it , the flower is dead , rotting, dismal decay setting in. I hated the dead, the rotten. I especially hated the young dead , premature rotting. I hated the whole process of decay.
I passed more flowers, alive and beautiful, all of them. I entered the street. I averted my gaze from the open garbage box with its dead things and more rotting rot. I walked slowly, feeling the rocks through the worn out, thin soles of my only pair of shoes. Friends and relatives pass me in their cars, They toot their horns. Rolled up windows act as claustrophobic enclaves enabling them to keep in the cool air and keep out the heat, the dust and passers-by. I nod my head or smiled at their closed up windows. I gesticulate dismissively and send them on their way. They did not want to be late and I didn’t want to be with them.
As I tentatively approach the church, I hear the singing, the piano and the guitars. The bells no longer rung. The mass had begun. A few people were standing outside as usual. I never could understand that. Why go to church just to stay outside? On a special occasion like today, it was what was happening on the inside that was important. I shrugged my shoulders. I didn’t give a damn anyway.
I dipped my right hand into the holy water cistern and made the sign of the cross and walked towards the pew where my family sat. They had saved a small space for me in the packed church. The mixed smell of cheap perfume, expensive perfume, colognes, moth balls and humans made me nauseous I looked up to the high ceiling. As the many voices rose, I was given a hymnal and I started to sing. I lost myself in the ceremony. Then quite suddenly, I was jerked back to reality of the occasion. Church bells pealed their mournful song. The mass was over. Six young men carrying a young man in a coffin passe me.
I said solemnly, “Fuck boy…this should have been your wedding.”