Those who commit suicide are just the sort of people who don’t think twice. But people who commit suicide – I mean some of them- have things deserving gratitude. If the person who commits suicide is delicate, you can see the remnants of his/her weep wetting the last words that are associating patience and release.
When I was a little child death meant to me being absent from school. Our teachers rarely get into classes without weaving with whips; I still remember that death had constant present in our school and according to our little minds, it was always feasible in its choices. When we were in the second class, death kidnapped our class’s supervisor. We were crazy happy because he was a sort of supervisors who lead you to glory on a road of pains.
A lot of my acquaintances died but one of them hasn’t left my memory as if I assisted him to kill himself. He was strong and his statue resembled a bow that hasn’t been stretched yet. I met him at midday in May.
Electricity used to absent in our quarter for days and weeks. Those who have trees in front their homes are considered people of high rank and we have a very big Neem tree in front of our house. When it is very hot, boys find refuge under our tree. They waste time by playing cards or chatting. Our tree was a good refuge because no one throws dirty water up on them and no one disturbs them with naughty whispers.
That afternoon boys scattered as usual as except one. He was absent-minded and I noticed that he seldom commented or laughed while playing cards.
– “You are a new comer?” I asked him.
– “How long it takes a person to be old here?” he said.
– “Then you have been here for long.” I said.
“It seems something like that.” he said.
Sitting under that tree we grew to recognize all the girls in that area. We competed to draw their attention and sometimes we thought proudly that they tried as hard as possible to reveal their smartness and their slimness.
One girl refused to respond to our flirts and she insulted us. That made us more insistent to flirt. Ambulance rarely came to our residential area. People here almost get out of control when there is an ambulance because they believe in destiny. We saw the ambulance leaving hastily but we didn’t know why it came or who was inside it. While we were arguing somebody silenced us by asking’ “Don’t you know what has happened?!”
“What has happened?” one of us replied him.
“Damn your mothers! Don’t know what is happening while sitting here like stones; don’t you know that Miss Kiji committed suicide and . . .
“Don’t complete. You mean that she died.” we interrupted him.
The man continued quietly: “Yes, she committed suicide; she didn’t die.”
We took a deep breath saying: “How is it?!”
“The rope lopped and she fell down!”
A funny atmosphere excluded the gloominess seized us when some one said, “The poor girl seems not to watch TV”
Another fixed the jerky picture saying, “The person who commits suicide needs diligence to reach his purpose.” Tom was the commentator.
One thing distinguishes me that my mother never interferes to direct me to whom I make friend with but this particularity has disappeared when she called in me to her room in a cold morning. She said in brief, “Tom is a nice gay but I don’t you to make friend with him.” I tried to answer but I failed. She added, “You must know that his grandfather was involved in your grandfather’s murder. I concealed my wonder “How does it come to an event took place before sixty years to control the future and draw its lines?” Each one of us thought it was over.
Few months later Miss Kiji walked past us but we were numb. She didn’t insult us but she was sad and pale, a paleness of a dead person and one of us squalled one day, “Oh my god! This girl is dead!”
Why she tried to commit suicide; we don’t know; no one knows.
One day I returned to the quarter to find a pavilion, from which music was warbling; I wished a happy soiree.
The earth wore a black vestment when people began to shout but I didn’t get why they were shouting. While I was standing in front of our house taken in amazement an old man shout at me, “Damn young people of this time! Try to take part in looking for Miss Kiji!” His yelling shocked me; I nailed where I was standing.
Towards the end of May boredom seized those who live in Khartoum; a sort of depression that can’t be interpreted. May be dust that awakens them at night is the cause but the most disgusting thing is that you can’t find a refuge but your very self to curl up like a hedgehog caught by a car’s lights.
I used to escape to the Blue Nile. I used to cross the Army Bridge on foot. I used to gaze at the Blue; never let anyone take part with me in that joy. It was the only thing that I spared for my self while my properties such as trousers, notebooks and shoes belonged to all people whom I know.
While I was walking one day I felt that some one was coming after me. I rounded to find Tom smiling at me.
– “You are plausible! You left us for dust. I see you many times while I am coming from Khartoum.” He addressed me jokingly.
There wasn’t anything deserving comment on Tom except his tremendous shoes.
– “Wind blows fiercely and we learnt in physics that the higher a body gets, the lighter it be, so it’s likely to fall from this height and with these shoes, no doubt you’ll sink because . .”
– He interrupted me mockingly, “Don’t you learn in physics that boys from Juba learn to swim before crocodiles do?”
We didn’t talk much, we arrived. I got my binoculars with some stones from my bag. I looked through it for a short time then I left it to begin throwing stones on water. Tom took the binocular and began to look at water. He was looking beneath the bridge directly. “You can’t see any thing like this.” I told him. “I have seen what I would like to see.” He replied. Flocks of birds began to throng while the sky was wearing a red cloak.” It’s time we left.” I said bowing on my bag. There was no answer. I repeated the statement and again; no answer. I stood up angrily to find people with opened mouths gazing at the river. I felt dizzy and I tried to jump but I was prevented by two strong hands.
A young officer was reciting the reasons of the arbitrary made by the court while people were silent. I didn’t pay much attention to his speech but an expression drew my attention that was the crime was revenge. “Have you anything to say?” The officer asked me rolling the paper. I didn’t respond. I set to stare at the attendants. The faces were gloomy and their colors were grey. After minutes of expressional silence one of the guards approached me and I uttered a great scream.
“It was a dreadful nightmare.” said mum who began to lull me as if I were a sucker.
“They won’t kill me! I have more time to live!” I uttered earnestly.
“Get rid off your assumptions. What a young man. He was carrying a suicide’s message with him all the time ..” I interrupted my mother with sneeze. She hurried to water cup continuing her speech: “He tried to commit suicide three times; failed twice; the first time the rope lopped; the second time a merciful robber who was visiting Tom’s house rescued him. Last time he was very skillful. He fell upon the pedestal of a pillar. I began to feel lethargic while my mother was talking about my friends’ attempts before his last success.
Six months passed since Tom died and I almost forgot him but my life wasn’t going as I had planned. No friends came to sit under our tree and I used to sit under it alone in an attempt to recollect reminiscences but passing of days keeps reminding me it’s absurd to do so. I was sitting under the Neem tree when a man carrying a baby stood opposite to me. I thought I knew the baby.
“How I can help you?” I asked him.
“A cup of water please.”
While he was devouring water I thought he had been lost in deserts for months before reaching here. After drinking he said, “I’m sorry to disturb you but I would like to know where Miss Kiji’s house is. She bequeathed me while she was dying to bring the baby . . . ”
The cup fell from my hand, I grabbed the chair, and I locked the door behind me.
Boi John is a poet, a short story writer and a novelist from South Sudan.
*Translated by Gamal Ghallap