Another Saturday, another funeral. Lindiwe dusts breadcrumbs off her lap, takes a final sip of her sweet tea and places the mug in the sink. She’ll wash it later. She takes her coat off the hook and puts it on. She always wears her coat, even though it’s the height of summer. Putting on her beret, she leaves the house. Carefully, but conspicuously, Lindiwe locks the front door so that the scabengers who have moved in next door notice just how locked it is, and then she stands on the kerb waiting for her lift to arrive.
She and Sipho do funerals every weekend. Often they organise them; finding the cash to put caskets of different sizes in the ground and to arrange food and drink for the mourners. If they’re not organising, then they’re attending. Sometimes they are the only attendants. Last Saturday, they buried five-month-old Maria. She’d been dropped at the mission and had not lived long enough to draw a crowd. Lindiwe mourned her, though. She always mourns, every baby, child and adult who they bury. Every time is like the first time. Sipho knows to have tissues and he passes them to her at the appropriate moment. Such a nice young man. Lindiwe wonders when his time will be.
Sipho drives up in his aging yellow Golf and she climbs in. He drives them past the overflowing cemetery outside Lindiwe’s suburb, along the dusty road into town, down the main road and up the hill through the once-white only suburbs. They join the highway and climb another, steeper hill, Sipho’s car chug-chugging behind articulated lorries. Today Lindiwe has not had to arrange anything, but she has been asked to give a reading. She holds her Bible closely to her heart to muffle its thumping.
© Charlotte Otter, 2008
(Because if you do, there’s more where that came from …)