My father and I drove to My Darling the day before Lazy’s funeral. My aunt Grace and my father remained really good friends after my parents divorced. She was the one who would keep him posted on what was going on with us in the USA on a daily basis. I am not sure how my mom felt about her sister keeping in touch with him but it doesn’t seem to have affected their relationship. This would be my first road trip with my father and it gave us time to get to know each other a bit better. It was nice.
When we arrived to My Darling we got lost and I couldn’t really direct my father because there weren’t any street names and it was all grovel road. When we pulled over to ask someone where the house was all we had to do was tell them my sir name and they directed us to my grandparents home. I was shocked that a sir name was enough to get you directions to your locations especially when I am used to getting directions through street names.
We couldn’t even pull into the yard because it was packed with cars and people. I then found out where people were going to sleep since there were no hotels near by. Many people slept in their cars (including my father) and neighbors allowed other guests to sleep in their homes. As you walked into the house people would start singing songs and you could smell the meat from the slaughtering. This time I was wearing a dress and when I went in I would greet everyone in Sipedi. I later joined my cousins with helping serve everyone food and drinks.
The singing continued through out the night and I started to wonder since we have to get water from outside how are all of these people going to wash in the morning?!?! Especially since the service is scheduled to start at 5am. 3am my aunt Grace wakes up my cousin Dineo and I to go and wash. I am just following the lead here because I still don’t know how this is going to work out. We go into the bathroom and there are three big buckets full of water. My aunt gets in the tub and Dineo and I each get in a bucket and wash. As uncomfortable as that experience was, I was so grateful we were the first because the thought of having to go behind other people and follow that process grossed me out.
Around 4:30 am the singing got louder and we started the preparations for the service. I made sure to wear a dress with a shawl to cover my shoulders and a wrap to cover my head. A large tent was setup outside on the street for the 5am service. Fortunately it was cool at time and we headed to the cemetery at 6am. I still couldn’t believe the amount of people that showed up to the funeral.
They buried Lazy next to my grandparents. For years I did not know that my sir name “ Matlhako” was spelled wrong. I noticed when I came back earlier that year that my cousin Dineo spelled her sir name “Mathlako”. When I looked at my grandparents tombstones “Mathlako” was spelled the same way as Dineo’s sir name. Only later was it explained to me that my mother switched the letters so that if my father and his family tried to find us it would be difficult if the spelling was different.
It’s now around 7am and the sun is rising!!!!! All I could think about is shedding the layers of clothes. I was sweating bullets but when I looked around everyone else was fine. No one else was bothered by the heat. I did manage to keep it together. After the burial we went back to my grandparents home and had lunch. I also got to catch up with some of the cousins and meet my mothers older brothers sons. My uncle passed away when I was very little but I did remember my two cousins. I don’t know why but the boys in my family were just easy… I found myself laughing a lot when I was with the male cousins.
Later on that day my father and I said our goodbyes and hit the road for Johannesburg. The following week I found out FIFA was drafting my agreements. Before I could celebrate my aunt Anna called me and my other cousins into her room and she delivered the news that my cousin Jojo has passed away. I found her delivery a bit cold because she didn’t even look at us but we all handle grief differently. Just like Lazy, Jojo was 36 and we were very close when I lived in Swaziland as a child. He was also very close to my father and was like a son to him. I also suspect he died of AIDS. I soon learned that when someone has AIDS no one talks about it. Even in your own family.
In the eighteen years that I have lived in the USA, I never attended a funeral and already after being in South Africa a few months I was heading to a second one and back to back. The expectations of me were very foreign and when I think about it today unfair. Jojo’s funeral would be in Swaziland the country where we ran away from my family and moved to the USA eighteen years earlier.