Sifuna izindaba (private entry)

I'm keeping busy. It's only been a handful of days here and the woods feel months away. Puts me in mind of the war, of waking up in a field hospital and remembering that last fight like it was months ago, or even a bad dream. Just like then, I always have the scars to remind me just how recent it all was. But I'm getting by.

The church needs work, the cemetary needs a good weeding. Headstones are all in that other language, cyrillic I think it's called. I wonder if they're real, or if they're slabs of stone over solid, undisturbed dirt that can't ever fully unthaw out here. You always hear about those Russian winters, after all.

I'm drinking too much, I know that. But it helps. It weeds out my thoughts, narrows the field to mantras, repeating echoes that are better than the chaos of a crowded head. I need to get it together, I could tell that Kales saw the damage. It's been a long time since I had some of my own, some that was fresh. I suppose I've forgotten how to hide it. Add it to the To Do list. 'Learn to act normal'.

And when I'm not cleaning or drinking, walking around the mostly empty streets or just watching Stockard's house? I'm reading. Two stories a day from the book Diata gave me. I'm not sure I'm getting what she thought I would from it. It's got perspective though, so there's that. A lot of it reads pretty simple, almost on a level of a child's story. And when I read a story that's not even a full page or doesn't make much sense on the first pass, I think of my old man.

Dead thirty years now, I still remember him. He hated me, hated himself, and I don't think it's much of a guess that he'd hate Diata. She's too proud, too sure of herself and her words. He was never sure of anything except the fact that we got everything we deserved from the white folks, and that uppity niggers like us, Dr. King, brother Malcolm, we'd get what was coming to us too. We'd learn to be grateful that we weren't in chains and call that enough. For the first time in a long time, I wish I'd been the one to kill him instead of the bottle.

Getting off-topic. I know what's in my head, I don't need to read it back to know it's there. Stories. Diata's, mine, our peoples'... there's more than the non-endings, more than the simple characterizations. This morning it was 'Why the Cheetah's Cheeks are Stained' with my coffee and toast. I forced myself to skip the morning scotch, figured the smallest investment I could give her book was a brain that wasn't soaked in booze. But this story, it stuck with me. I don't know if I can tell her that without explaining why, and I don't want to explain that.

I'm the cheetah's cub, me and Stockard, Kales, whoever the other broken bastards doing all the tormenting before were; we're stolen by the lazy hunter who can't be bothered to kill on his own. He wants his meat, but he wants someone else to bleed it for him. But here, there's no village to banish him. There's no mother out there crying for her lost children. And there's definitely no wise man to hear those cries, to set things right.