bloodletting.

i.
Post-its on the wall.
I belong deeply to myself. ~ Warsan Shire
The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself. ~ Michel de Montaigne
My alone feels so good, I’ll only have you if you’re sweeter than my solitude. ~ Warsan Shire

ii.
Cape Town.
You flew in and out so that you could catch Laura Mvula and bask in her sweet melancholy. Something about her makes you want to hold up a board that reads, “It’s going to be okay, you’re going to be okay”; so she can see it and know that she will, indeed, make it through. But you realise how superficial fan girl love is and maybe that message is for you, a note to self? So you don’t do it, but you do bask in her sad glow, and phew, she takes you to church. How glorious, she sings, this light in us – (the crowd raises their firsts in the power salute) – we are a wonder. And the congregation of natural haired girls with pretty eyes and bold lip colours said, Amen!

iii.
Solo.
You cut your hair. You’ve done it before, but all your friends say it’s because you’ve just had your heart broken. But I’ve been wanting this for a while, you reply. Yes, they say in response, but grief makes us do stupid things, makes things urgent.
You hate that they make sense. Damn them and their righteous attitudes.

iv.
Melancholy.
You swirl it around in your mouth and spit it out like a wine you didn’t like the taste of.

v.
Grief.
Days and days of agony. And opinions on how you should grieve. What is the right way to mourn? This bit is the worst.

vi.
Lemonade.
You were served lemons, and you cut your hair and danced in your underwear, wore a colourful shirt with clashing hues, felt the prettiest you have in a while, and beat your face. Your face. You’d forgotten about this beautiful chubby fat gorgeous FACE. And it’s yours. And you see now, again, because being bald (something about not having the distraction of hair and society’s beauty standards on your head leads you to confront your visage, I mean really look at it and examine every perfecter flaw and surface of flesh) always makes you remember that you are beautiful. My God you’re beautiful! Do you believe it? Believe it.

vii.

Intimacy.
There’s just me.
And all the thoughts screaming into the silence.
But there’s me. I found me, again. Or am trying.
And the taste of it is like smooth sweetness sultry silky
on my mouth.

-ends-

yours,

Dusty

“We’re writers – we bleed on the page.” – a character from BET’s “Rebel”

bloodletting
/ˈblʌdlɛtɪŋ/
noun
1
historical
the surgical removal of some of a patient’s blood for therapeutic purposes.
2
the violent killing and wounding of people during a war or conflict.
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The Quiet Violence of Words

I recently went through one of the most traumatic experiences of my life at the hands of a book. Yes, a book. I read it cover to cover reluctantly, only persisting because I was compelled to write an essay on it as a course requirement at the end of term. Before that words had always been wonderful things; always associated with catharsis, creativity, spirituality, relaxation and at the very least escape. Never did it occur to me that words could be vile things.

Duiker (1974-2005) is also the author of The Quiet Violence of Dreams. Source: http://www.randomstruik.co.za/

Enter the accused, that little book by K Sello Duiker, Thirteen Cents. The book is about a homeless boy, Azure, trying to survive on the streets of Cape Town. Each time I discussed the book with friends and peers, I would stress how depressing the book was: “EVERY moment is depressing,” I’d say, “and the moments that aren’t depressing are not less depressing because they are in and of themselves not depressing, but because they are less depressing than all the other depressing moments within the book.” Yes, you get it, the book was depressing.

When I read, I am at that moment held hostage by the words on that page, restricted to what the book describes, the world the book invites me into. As I read I must involve myself in the world of the book, partake of its experiences as though they were my own. It had never occurred to me that reading is, by that description, a violent experience only because my emotions are captive and at the mercy of the author’s pen. It’s a quiet violence because it’s a hostage experience I’ve entered into willingly.

Azure is a young, black male, and Duiker’s description of his experiences raises some compelling questions about identity, history, trauma and its effects on individuals and groups, the representation of violence and reality, and so on. My contention with the book was its graphic nature: Azure is molested, raped and abused physically and emotionally, and far from glossing over these facts, the reader is forced to experience his molestation step-by-step as Duiker takes us through each act in detail. It was difficult to read, to say the least. Because of this, the book alienated me, I recoiled from putting myself in the focaliser’s shoes, and so for the first time, I was repelled by words.

Thirteen Cents is not for the sensitive reader. Source: http://www.sashaarms.com/2010/11/thirteen-cents/

I am not sure if I was more disturbed by having to engage with such violent imagery or with the fact that there are young boys in Cape Town for whom such violence is part of their every day lived experience. I felt at once ashamed to be human in a world where other human beings perform such atrocities on other human beings, and at the same time I felt angered by my helplessness. At the least Duiker managed to get me thinking about the human condition from a new perspective.

On this, the first ‘birthday’ of theDustySoulDiary, I am able to look back on my growth as a writer, how blogging has helped me gain confidence in my craft, and how it has improved my skill. There’s still a lot of growth I need to experience as a writer, but I’ll get there. I am grateful, at the least, for the freedom to write without restriction, and for that I thank the great freedom writers whose words were penned by blood and pain for me and my country. My experience with Thirteen Cents has shown me anew the power of words, of literature… Viewed as a violent act, the power words have take on new meaning in that old adage: the pen is mightier than the sword, for although the wounds of a ‘sword’ may heal, words stay with you forever.

**To mark a year of blogging, DustySoul adds a category to the four theDiary already has: “Look”. As times goes by, the idea behind this new category will be more apparent. For now, happy Youth Day.

Yours,

DustySoul

“When writers die they become books.” – Jorge Luis Borges