Kinfolk. Were they a way in the woods..(Collina Mvududu)6 min read

Kinfolk. Were they a way in the woods the sign would say, “LEADS YOU SOMEWHERE BUT SOMETIMES , YOU GET NO WHERE”
First, I’m appallingly equiped for anything that requires strict protocol, but – like kindler before the log – family ranks are pragmatic. Oh but the smoke that billows – stinging the eyes – when someone fails to observe them. Appeasing the offended is… as manual as blowing the base of a stubborn stack – with bare knees on gritty ground – yet when the flame flares, what joy pulls you up from your humble posture, to enjoy it’s familiar warmth!


I stooped to console a grieving cousin, one funeral dusk. I still see her face, slow rise like the moon from underneath a black hood, yet, her eyes quick amber as she went rogue sniper ballistic! I was stunned!! Ok. I’d gone eight years without contact, but now, grief had her jaw locked on my trachea no amount of truth could pry it open, yet I told her – you would have seen me more if your perving husband hadn’t seen me enough – and nearly caught a live one right across the face! Clearly, such confessions had a systematic time and place. Time being: when offender yet lived, for the grave cleaned slates honorarily, meaning, I was subordinate now to his absence. I’d skinned myself to come see him off but, what did it matter – now that he was gone? Should I’ve warned her whom she’d married then? He’d only have been dead to her sooner, or I would have burnt for it anyway! Nevermind. Camp code: forgiveness.


Still, the whole blubbering incident embarrassed me. I arose intending to slink into the kitchen but – the ‘fire biulding manual’ said – I had to follow the stage by stage process of pressing palms with familial strangers. I swear by thier icy finger pads they now thought I was the reason thier son was dead! I finally backed into ‘culinary dispatch’ where catering orders were issued immediately! The aunt in charge addressed me as father, and so, politely asked that I give a bowl of Cerelac to *Sekuru Lloyd, whom – after five minutes of searching for a toothless old man – I found was my three year old nephew! Ranks. Sekuru Lloyd, was perched on his great grand uncle’s lap – son to me, apparently – so, I instructed him to do the feeding. Mistake.


How was everyone else in tune with thier offices; dancing, like different coloured flames in one blaze? I was like that little ember that leaps out to freedom and glows happily on the side – till someone chucks it back in the heat. Hermit of the family; Private among generals, weary of my ignorance being poked fun at by my fathers in the frontline, I MIAed to the rear of the house and there, found the retiring spot for the kitchen crew. They relieved me with lighter conversation and disconnected activity; hair braiding and stretch marks. Stretch marks, led to child bearing (point at which I prepared to leave) but childbearing, led to notice of an upcoming wedding. Ah nuptial alliance; the family tree branches further. Your tent is pitched right under so it stands over you as guardian against the elements, but then, your foot gets tangled in it’s roots; tradition. Took me back to a rainy wedding…
Having failed to camouflage myself amid the groom’s family – thus, by my mother’s prodding – I enlisted among the bachelorettes who’d been bursting into petly sparks on the dance floor, but, I’d mastered the art of dodging the bridal bouquet (imagine it’s an M67). Still, before the coleslaw had chilled, my age had been pitied three times; once, with a preacher on call. When my camp occupies the matrimonial zone, there’s always a member of the Spinster Scouts ready to drill someone on the duties of womanhood. Since they keep pressing me, this wedding, I planned to bring them a decoy future son-in-law from a whole different kind of camp! The type who’d detain them for wearing. the. same. colour. head. to. toe and train them to match more creati-veh-leigh. As I strategized, an SS disguised as funeral braider tried to ambush me, so, forward I marched!
Back in the house, having peeked into a few… restrictively decked rooms , I found one where a couple of infants lay sleeping. In here, there was less mourning. Everyone who entered, was easily ranked mother to so and so and, they were too busy changing diapers to inquire after my elusive boyfriend, or pacifying toddlers to judge my eccentric career. My trenchant cousin came trolling, but was repelled by the smell of new life (having just experienced death). Family politics couldn’t coax combat for we called truce to tend to our tiny troops. In here, innocence was decorated. So I was completely at ease, till one of the children stirred. Without hesitation I gathered him in my arms. As he rested again, the thought occurred to me… countless times have there been, that the person who responded to my cry and gathered me… was not my mother… Gratitude, won me over.
I lay the boy down then took a moment to listen to the fire crackling outside. No distinct words but – for every conflict raging like a forest inferno – there was more communion contained for warmth. Preparing to go AWOL, nonetheless, I picked up some utensils to feign purpose and evade reprimand as I headed out the door. Sure, our interactions were… oxygen and poker, but – our advance – no ill wind could extinguish. Each generation willed to die down acknowledged respectfully by the dawn, it’s coals, giving the next one an experienced start. When I closed down my bunker that day, the smoke on my clothes didn’t bother me, for it meant we still liked each other enough to hold out for light around that patiently fanned fire.
*grandfather


Back in the house, having peeked into a few… restrictively decked rooms , I found one where a couple of infants lay sleeping. In here, there was less mourning. Everyone who entered, was easily ranked mother to so and so and, they were too busy changing diapers to inquire after my elusive boyfriend, or pacifying toddlers to judge my eccentric career. My trenchant cousin came trolling, but was repelled by the smell of new life (having just experienced death). Family politics couldn’t coax combat for we called truce to tend to our tiny troops. In here, innocence was decorated. So I was completely at ease, till one of the children stirred. Without hesitation I gathered him in my arms. As he rested again, the thought occurred to me… countless times have there been, that the person who responded to my cry and gathered me… was not my mother… Gratitude, won me over.
I lay the boy down then took a moment to listen to the fire crackling outside. No distinct words but – for every conflict raging like a forest inferno – there was more communion contained for warmth. Preparing to go AWOL, nonetheless, I picked up some utensils to feign purpose and evade reprimand as I headed out the door. Sure, our interactions were… oxygen and poker, but – our advance – no ill wind could extinguish. Each generation willed to die down acknowledged respectfully by the dawn, it’s coals, giving the next one an experienced start. When I closed down my bunker that day, the smoke on my clothes didn’t bother me, for it meant we still liked each other enough to hold out for light around that patiently fanned fire.
*grandfather