After Tears

One of our neighbours had an after-tears function at their home today.
It’s when people get together after the funeral of a loved one in vibrant (and often raucous) acknowledgement of life and the person who has passed on.
I’ve only known the sombre solemnity of the aftermath of Muslim funerals, so to hear vibey gospel music and the chatter of relatives on lawn chairs filter through our bedroom curtains was something of a novelty.
Our neighbour was considerate enough to ask us beforehand if her guests could park on the area just outside our house.
Of course, it’s the neighbourly thing to do. We pardon the inconveniences.
Quid pro quo.
I also live across the road from a recently-built mosque in a neighbourhood that, during Apartheid, was classified as a whites-only suburb.
With the growing number of Muslims in the area, every Friday, cars choke both sides of our street for the Jumuah prayer.
One of the other neighbours has short driveway pillars placed along the grassy embankment outside his fence.
Whether his decision was motivated by a Stonehenge design aesthetic or a desire to not have people park outside of his house, we can’t say for sure.
If he ever required the use of our space for extra parking, that would be ok too.
While we aren’t the type of neighbours who gossip and philosophise with each other over the boundary wall, it’s a convivial non-complicated relationship. Like nice, friendly Muslims, we send over small gifts at Eid, wave and nod at each other, are polite to their dogs and go about living as quietly and non-disruptively as possible.
Our neighbourhood is mild, middle-class and multi-racial.
An impossible scenario 30 years ago, when the house we now live in was built (complete with an outside Bantu toilet in its blueprints).

And while I can’t speak for those less fortunate or the well-monied, where the balances are still so severely skewed, the middle is where it’s at.
It’s where me and my Black and White neighbours are at.
In the middle, all together.

(cross-posted on Voices of Africa)

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I am a writer and photographer (look up my work on based in Johannesburg, South Africa. I have an MA in Creative Writing from the university currently known as Rhodes. My writing accolades include winning the 2014 Writivism Short Story Prize and the 2020 Ingrid Jonker Poetry Prize for my debut collection, Zikr.

4 thoughts on “After Tears”

  1. Ah, yes, its a nice enough existence. Parking is not something I worry about. Its the parties man. but as a community matures I guess what is acceptable changes with that.

    Aluta Continua

    1. Because of the topography of where we are, the sound settles around us, almost as if it were gathering in a bowl. So while there have been a few noisy parties around Christmas/New Years, the merrymakers are not the immediate neighbours but houses and houses and blocks away. At least we do not suffer alone.

  2. Lovely post. But I wonder what the picture will look like 30 years from now. Whether the corruption and inequality that plagues us now will become so bad that the picture returns to a bleak one, in need of new Mandelas fighting for the restoration of sanity…

    1. I am always optimistic, perhaps foolishly so sometimes. I do hope that things don’t become too dire, that we can still come together united in our similarities more than our differences.

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