These are the things we lost in the fire

These are the things we lost in the fire

I woke up today at my normal time, 06:00, to pray, drink tea and set intentions for the day ahead. Everything was as normal as normal could be. Lehakoe woke up shortly after me, 07:00, and we continued with our morning routine.

I went into indumba/seromo/consulting room at 10:30, lit a candle, burnt impepho and prayed ndaphahla. A few minutes after I said ‘amen’, my child asked that I please make food for her. I stood up, to make something that would quell my child’s hunger. Prior to exiting the consulting room, Nana asked me in an unusually sullen tone if I was leaving the candle burning. My response to her was that yes, I would leave it burning because I would be back shortly. I left her in the ndumba and made my way into the house. She would follow shortly after me. While taking a moment to breathe, in the kitchen, I saw smoke billowing from outside. It was then that I was hit by a massive and debilitating wave of panic. My ndumba was on fire.

My first instinct was to connect the hosepipe to the tap and open it fully. The aim was to quell the roaring flame, that stood 2 meters above me. It was angrily swaying in the wind and I knew then that I was fighting a losing battle. My focus shifted from trying to salvage the diamonds and pearls encased in my consulting room, to trying to quell the roaring flame so that it didn’t consume the house, the car and the neighbouring houses.

Our neighborhood is quite small, so people can easily tell when there’s a fire. They all arrived with buckets in hand, ready to counter the force of nature that had given itself a place in my ndumba. The fire eventually died down and my mind came back to me.

This is it. My hard work, sweat and tears, my heart, burnt to cinders in a matter of minutes. There’s one object that I’ve lost forever in that fire. I will never get it back. Not a single rand could buy it back. My Paternal grandmother’s walking staff, beautifully and intricately carved to resemble a man-bird. I’ll never get it back because she exists in the land of the ancestors.

My emotions are mixed and they keep oscillating in bouts of tears, hysterical laughter and a somber silence. I’m fraught with guilt and shame because I should have known better than to leave a candle burning. No amount of “Thokozani bogogo” could have stopped a force of nature, meeting timber and polycotton.

My heart is broken in so many ways because it’s my ndumba, man. My office, my dispensary, my councelling room, my place of refuge and my nap area. Where am I going to take my naps now? So inconvenient, mxm.

Along with the guilt, shame and heartbreak is an overwhelming sense of gratitude that no one was injured, especially my small baby girl. She enjoyed playing in the ndumba and anything could have happened. Dear God, the imagery is so grotesque.

The task that lies ahead of me is that of accepting what has transpired, forgiving myself and allowing the emotions to wash over me. To take them as they come and to not think further than this, because intambo ingasuke ingafiki kwiparaffin (I would go crazy). Rebuilding will take a while because this isn’t only a physical thing. My spirit and my emotions are absolutely shattered.

As a result, I have had to cancel all scheduled consultations and ndumba services and refund all my clients. I’m sorry about that.

These are the things I’ve lost in this fire 💔

Gogo Malepena

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