My friend happened to be telling me a story about Lucky Dube which then reminded me of a rare story involving my father. It’s funny how stories make one feel connected to others, to things, even to ideas. The topic of Lucky Dube will forever remind me of my mother’s love for my dad, allow me to recall.
I remember my mum stalling to speak as Lucky Dube’s ‘Crazy World’ played softly in the background, possibly trying to recall her interactions with the man she had loved. She smiled to herself as I waited for her tale in anticipation.
Remembering that I was in the room with her, she looked at me saying, “your father was a special kind of man, sonny. He had traveled to South Africa before you were born, just after we got married. When he had come back, he walked through the kitchen door like he had just popped out to the local Ntemba to buy some milk.” She paused enough to see if I was paying attention to her story. How could I not, she hardly ever spoke of the man and such a rare opportunity could not be allowed to go begging.
“He had no luggage?” I asked as a way to keep her speaking. “I don’t remember, I just know he walked through that door and it was like he never left.” She spoke with a fondness of a broken hearted woman who never quite stopped being in love with her man. “In his hand was a picture. If not for that picture I would not have remembered that he was in another country altogether.” She said as she scruffed up my hair. “You look just like him, mwana wa Joe” she said as she eyed me like it was her first time.
I still suspect she was comparing me to the man she had married, probably making sure I really was her son. I had no interest for the silence though so I pressed on. “What happened next mum?” She smiled, and kissed my forehead as if to tell me to relax and take the atmosphere in. “Well I grabbed the picture, from his hands not too sure why he had a picture with him anyway. As soon as I grabbed the picture, he smiled and asked me if I knew who was in the picture besides him? I told him no, and asked who he was anyway?”
She laughed a lost sort of laugh I didn’t have the heart to ask her to continue. It felt like she part of the tale in that moment. I could see her heart, and it felt like I was with her time traveling into the past, so we stayed silent until she was ready to speak again. “Your father looked at me and said he just met this guy called Lucky Dube and he was a crazy chap. Busy telling him, how he was going to be a celebrity. So your father decided to take a picture with him. The whole time laughing at how it took ordinary people with a certain level of craziness and courage to be open and convince others around them that they were destined for greatness.”
She giggled this time, more out of a cherished memory of a hopeful and slightly naïve man that she clearly still loved.
“Your dad would have been happy to see him become a success” she said as an after thought to the silence from her last words. “Why don’t you tell me more stories about dad?” I asked as she finally rejoined me in the present moment. She smiled, kissing me on my forehead and then gave me a strange hug that felt like love. Like the hug you give when you don’t want someone to go. When you still want to feel the love.
“I love you to the moon and back” were her final words as she smiled turning away from me and walking to her room. I have never found the courage to ask her about my father again. Her eyes showed a love for another being like I’ve never seen in them. There was too much pain in her eyes, of lost love, of forgotten memories, of times past, laced with memories she probably would rather bury with all the Lucky Dube tapes she still kept in her black box.
More than anything else, I saw so much love it probably hurt to remember the things my perplexed mind required of her. Now every time a Lucky Dube song comes up, I remember the story of a man’s love, hope and understanding all reflected through the eyes of the woman he once loved.
What I remember most though, is the love this woman had for her man, even through her glazed, teary eyes she loved too much, she would rather forget.