A blow catches him squarely on the cheek. A voice inside, the one bathed by reason tells him to run. Running is his habit. He’s always running. The sad thing is that he runs in circles. Consequently, he always ends up where he started. His mother is in the middle, trying to stop the fight. She isn’t succeeding. The atmosphere feels dark, very dark. How could the situation have deteriorated to this stage? Another blow strikes his face again. The next one, he dodges. There is loud grunting and cursing. It’s a situation so grim and yet comic.

It’s tiring, doing something knowing full well that it’s unlikely to bear any positive result. But then again what’s one to do when one finds oneself confined to this absurd situation? Having to do that which is tiring and hopeless because it’s the only thing that’s available. Hell? That’s what’s inside. A cocktail of humiliation, anger, anxiety and hopelessness. All bottled up in a wasting vessel that is the self.

Hostility is like an inflamed and itchy sore. With time it festers and bursts, expelling pus. It’s an unpleasant process, but one necessary, for how else can the sore heal?

Is he surprised? Deep inside he knows it was inevitable. This has been long coming. But exchanging blows with a parent? This time he has gone too far. Such behaviour is forbidden, there can be no future after this. The voice of reason within him keeps telling him to run but he stands his ground. It’s as if something inside him has snapped. He’s fully aware of what’s to come but he stands his ground and keeps on fighting. How will the elders judge him? A serial breaker of the fifth commandment. Fear grips him as he parries off the blows. It’s now certain, he’s going to be a nonperson within the whole clan.

He has always struggled to breathe when he is in the realm of his mortal enemy, fear. It’s something he noticed in his juvenile years, before his asthma went into remission. The peculiar thing about fear is that bullies smell it from a mile away. Mhanya chikomana, mhanya (run little boy, run) big Joe would say with a croaked smile, holding a flexible rod in his hand. He would run as fast as his little legs permitted, with big Joe right on his heels, swinging wildly and sometimes managing to land a stinging lash across his back.

His old man finally leaves with mother, leaving him sitting at the edge of the yard, heavily pregnant with apprehension. A few hours later, as he expected, mother returns alone. Consequences. This whole fiasco is a result of his failure to find something meaningful to do. Already in his thirties and yet he is still living under his parents’ roof. The neighbours ask about him now and again, with amused grins. When asked, his mother always cowers with shame. An educated son in his thirties who hasn’t yet figured out what to do with himself? Multitudes of unlearned souls and school dropouts have figured out that already. Even a patient parent gets fed up eventually.

He used to think he had everything figured out. It’s only when he started sending out his CVs, that’s when reality slapped him right across the face. Persist, every dog has his day, his parents kept saying. But it becomes tiring, doing the same thing over and over again without any meaningful result.

The calls start coming the very next day. How stupid of him, he should have run. When one is under someone’s roof sometimes it’s wise to assume the meekness of a lamb. Now that he has bitten the hand that feeds him, what’s to become of him? His young brother is the one who brings him the news. He has been given a day to pack up his things and leave. The family elders are not entertaining any form of apology. His old man is threatening to go to the police. Leave? Where will he go? He ponders desperately. It’s becoming hard to breathe, he’s in the realm of his mortal enemy once again.

It doesn’t even take him ten minutes to pack his things. After all, how much does he even have? The sun is about to go down when he leaves, walking like a dog that has stolen something from its master. The neighbours stare at him anxiously, uncertainty glares at him right in the face. He pauses for a moment and stares ahead. So, it has come to this? He sighs heavily. Come to think of it, he has been here before. If ever there is reconciliation, he’s going to be standing here again. Running in circles, and so it begins again.











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