Plastic anoraks were drums as raindrops thudded down on us. Each child separated by three feet of muddy earth as we dibbled a hole, placed the seed and covered.
Tynwald: a three-acre plot. The clouds had been threatening for days. A heavy, pregnant wind struggled over the field as we laboured days before. Its thick breath smelling of asphalt, wet bricks or dry tea leaves in a cup.
When the rain came, it slanted in shards shooting from the heavens; clear bolting comets pummelling our coloured anoraks. I looked to my brother doing the paces: one, two, three: hoe, plant, cover – and though the light was sombre, the raindrops took on the colours of his anorak, forming a rainbow on the arch of his back.
Father, a child’s mile ahead, by the boundary of the field, turned to us, angered at our slow pace. With water streaming down his face into his bearded chin, he shouted, droplets spurting from his lips, ‘The last row! Then we’ll all go into the house!’
All four sons; we hoed, planted and covered till the end of the field where the road, beyond the boundary, curved to an out-of-sight solitude. And even though he had done another row and told us to go indoors, he kept going with the fuel of the future.
Out in the field where maize would sprout and the sun suck the shoots into the sky – there he laboured in solitude: one, two, three – hoe, plant, cover.
Death led us along its path behind the hearse. The black chariot with curtained glass. Its tail-lights blinking – two scintillating stars: two stars in the constant mirage to my father’s village.
His death lead us through the dust, past barbed-wire fences – to the pencil bushes of rural reservations, through groups of donkeys, cattle and herdsmen, through villages shaded beneath the deep blood-foliage of the mupfuti.
Two stars and I follow. A slow convoy trailing. A strange heavy taste in my mouth, the compass-needle of blood guiding me on, the family grave-site steering the wheels to where earth opens up with the wet breath of death.
On the mantlepiece, a verdite frame: a faded photograph depicts a young couple thronged by a motionless crowd – the crowd is singing, dancing beneath the eaves of a hut where dust has risen from bare feet and is now suspended in time for ever.
You have no current subscriptions in your account.
Would you like to explore the titles in our collection?
You have no collections in your account.
Would you like to view your available titles?