fragments

“We have our shoes on. We’re not dead”
*
“Ni Ngai”
I nod.

“Ni Ngai”
I nod.

“Ni Ngai”
I nod.
*
“say something”

“if you’re alive, say something”

“say something”
*
“My friend, she’s telepathic. She felt . . . something . She called right after the accident. She felt . . . something.”

Books and films describe attachment as a filament—when something happens to those you’re attached to, you’re supposed to feel . . . something.

What if you don’t?

What if you can’t?
*
“Ni Ngai.”
I nod.

“Nituhoye.”
I walk away.

I will not question belief.
I will not sit through its rituals.
*
“we are dying”

“we are dying”

“we have died”

“we have died”
*
“Ni Ngai”
*
“I’m scratching. That’s a good sign. It means blood is flowing. I’m scratching”

Fuzzy about what to do, I develop sympathy symptoms, random symptoms: rashes, hiccups, night fevers, random stomach ailments. Little things that will not stop the work of care.

My body has always processed emotion through sickness. Doctors tell me there’s nothing physically wrong. Reading Freud was necessary.

This is not about me.
*
“Show them the pictures.”

I lift the phone, find the gallery, show yet another visitor the pictures.

“You see? This is where they had to cut me out.”
*
“we are dying”

“we are dying”

“we are dying”

“we have deaded”

Most accurately, the Kikuyu translates as, “we have deaded,” not “we have died.”
*
“We have our shoes on. We are not yet dead.”
*
An anecdote:

The police officer handling the file pulled it out and pushed it to the side. He wandered in and out of the office, pretended it was anywhere but next to him. I said, “officer, you see I am an old woman. Won’t you complete the report for me?”

He continued to putter.

I said, “officer, now it’s getting to lunch time, and we’re getting hungry.”

He continued to putter.

I pulled three tropical sweets from my bag. I took one, offered him one, and then said the other would be for someone else.

“After this, we can have lunch together.”

He completed the report.
*
“the lorry was coming—I drove for a gap—it slid off the car—I was pinned to the side of the car”

“these drugs, they have morphine—I don’t want to get addicted”
*
“Ni Ngai”
*
Saran Wrap: to keep bandages from getting wet. I wrap it round my mother’s arm. The work of repair.
*
“I hadn’t told other people. They will be told. They will come to visit.”

We stock up on milk, baking happens, much tea is made.
*
A story for the holidays: “Ni Ngai.”

A story with illustrations. A story with a present-here narrator. A story that is not the story it could have been.
*
“Ni Ngai”
*

story as repair
writing as repair
busywork as repair
serving tea as repair
story as repair

*
“You just keep baking,” my mother tells me

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