I am standing in my kitchen, puncturing a white marshmallow that I’ve just popped into my mouth with my tongue. My cell phone rings. I pat myself down for it. It’s you. I haven’t been expecting your call. Not after the way you treated me in Mombasa and left me to find my way back to the hotel because you got jealous of my Swahili conversation with the taxi driver.
I cannot stress enough that this time I’m done. I try to mouth the words, “Don’t call me…” but the barbed wire of emotions chokes me. Tears ooze from my burning eyes like blood from a spear stab wound. I can’t say it. It feels as though you’re standing in the room watching me. I can almost smell your cigarette-smoked clothes in the room. How the f_ _k did we get here… to this point where it feels like you’re a keloid in my heart.
I wanted to try this. But your temper. It will kill me. It will take over us like a ghost on an unfortunate night and steal our breaths and leave one of us with the ifs, hows, wheres, and whens of things we could have avoided. Even worse, dead. I want you to stay in our past. You’re perfect there. You’re kind, considerate, and unselfish in our past. Pity your past self never made beyond the threshold of the present.
I don’t know who you are. Perhaps one of these days, you’ll leave technology behind and ask to meet me at the railway track in Tshabalala. Face to face. Unaided by the use of meaningless emojis and sms language. There you will approach me with a gentle gaze that will remind me of what we’ve lost. Your grip on my wrist will not leave a mauve bruise but will imprint a sense of belonging in my soul. There, I pray I see the nakedness and vulnerability of your soul.
I’ll put my phone on loudspeaker and hear you lie again about how you’ve stopped drinking and how good you will be to me. This will all happen as I fill my glass with cheap wine to gulp and wash down the bad taste your voice leaves in my mouth. I remember a time I caught every word uttered with a French kiss that gave your words worth more than any gemstone the world has ever known. The thought of those days almost induces emotional bulimia.
You soon realize you are talking to an empty, hollow, sterile kitchen and hang up. I raise a glass to the new me, who is trying so hard to overcome the fear and the pain of being the object of your unsolved anger and lack of self-worth. Asisekho lapho.
I can’t take the beatings of my spirit anymore. So I walk back into my own skin and build myself from the soles of my feet to the top of my head.
I pick up my cell phone and type a message to you in case you missed my point while you were yakking on the line. “Do Not Call Me.”
Frank Malaba © 2017
Frank Malaba is an actor, playwright, and published poet. He was born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, and resides in Cape Town, South Africa. He has performed on stage and television in both countries. He has a passion for using poetry, storytelling, and theatre as a healing method for himself and others. His poetry has been presented both at home and abroad. Frank is currently developing a two-man play entitled “Broken Pathways,” which toured internationally. In 2014 Frank was recognized by Mail & Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans as an Achiever in the category of Arts & Culture. View all posts by Frank Malaba