Tag Archives: death

#1 ~ How To Pass Finals (and not Die in the Attempt)

This year was the first year I returned to University and it felt like home. More importantly I didn’t feel afraid. When I was a naive fresher the journey up the motorway oozed expectant possibilities, but by second year I had become jaded, by third year slightly cynical, yet this year, this fourth year I was pumped, because the end was in sight.

When I first started this blog almost 2 years ago and confronted the challenge to write something every day, I was candid, raw, experimental and most importantly, when living in a cyber era where privacy is a euphemism for extraneous publicity, I was anonymous. I was simply the Death of the Writer and I wrote for my own pleasure and in that time garnered some kind of an audience. My anonymity provided me with a cloak that allowed me to write about experiences, thoughts, ideas and issues without implicating anyone else, or myself. Yet this blog also opened up my own creativity. It became the scrap book of lyrics and poems that I would later perform, film and publicly own as mine. It became the platform for me to begin writing professionally as a freelance journalist, once more also publicly. It was used to raise awareness for my first ever theatrical production which we then performed off-broadway and which resulted in me getting twitter (??). And it now has a declaration under the banner image with my working name and a note not to steal my work. This is my blog, and I am its writer – and I also have one final year left of university to pass without dying.

A fan of hyperbole you say. Ironically not. Considering that during my exams last year I ended up passing out several times which disrupted my exam period and showed me my body was indeed frail, fragile and mortal, getting through this year, and more importantly coming out the other side if not whole, with as few dents in my body, and as few holes stealthily tacked up with plaster in my brain as possible, will be as much an achievement as achieving my long-awaited bachelors degree. So perhaps I won’t die in the attempt of surviving a BA, but let’s hope I don’t faint, fall ill or undergo any other kind of mishap.

This so far, is the longest introduction to a blog I have done, but bear with me, a lot has occurred since I removed my fingers from the keyboard of this so called scrap book.

Once more I throw down the gauntlet to academia and take up the challenge to write something, every day, from now until I leave these ivory towers, documenting my final year of University and all that it may entail.

But remember that note I left about anonymity. Well, perhaps this time round I won’t be able to be as candid. I’ll try and be honest, but sometimes obfuscating a situation or being dissembling can lead to more trouble – more than one person might think you’re writing about them!

So this will be an interesting attempt, because I will be documenting my year, whilst being consciously aware of documenting my year, whilst also trying not to care that people who know me away from the ether might be reading this – oh dear, the mind games have begun.

Well, here’s to scrap books and random thoughts and transformation and maturity, and expressions and fears and life. No doubt my thoughts and feelings will change as each day goes by and even after this blog has ended. I’m writing for myself and maybe for anyone out there who makes a connection, but this is a place of expression, of note taking, of learning.

And as I said all those years ago, maybe amongst the pile of shit you’ll find a spec of gold – welcome to this blog and to this new challenge to Pass Finals (and not die – or faint – in the attempt).

Walk with me this way —->

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#307 ~ One Hundred Words and a Photo: 27


They have no idea they’re merely reflections. Look at them, heads bent, focused, so intently focused on ascending, but they’re just descending. Into the pit. Into the abyss, back into the reflections of the fake marble floors which reflect them back up onto the walls, the ceiling, the escalator which is never-ending. Oh these poor people. Caught, suctioned into the court with no exit but an eternal entrance into the gaping jaws of – levels, levels, the ascension of descent into the pitfalls. I just need another, another level, another layer, then i’ll go..over there back into the court.


Copyright: Victoria. O

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#303 ~ One Hundred Words and Photo: 23


I just loved the blue. So bright, so fractured, so…so blue, but green and yellow too. I would run my blind fingers over the smooth surfaces, trying to find the grain, the faces she wouldn’t let me see. But Abuela was old…her fingers clawed, so I could peep through the arthritic gaps, it was ok, she didn’t know…secretly, I loved the cheeky grin of Deaths many faces. We would laugh together silently. Soon Grandma would be one of his blue faces, which are actually quite gay, bouncing round my neck so we could still play, eh Abuela?

Copyright: Victoria. O

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#277 ~ Marcus

One of the interesting differences between, i’ll term it London culture and KZN culture, is public awareness. In London, and perhaps in most mega cities where development and a population influx of migrants and members of various social strata mean a) time is money and b) communication can be a laboured and to a degree difficult process, is that lack of public awareness. Sure, people are on high-alert in terms of being street wise; are there potential muggers about, is this a red-light district, am I lost and making my self vulnerable, but public awareness doesn’t, in my opinion, feature. We rarely notice or considered the emotional visage of the hordes that walk alongside us, sit next to us, or even drive us. One man’s frown is another man’s impassive forehead.

Yet in the KwazuluNatal Region of South Africa, in my experience of it as a rural area, it was filled with public awareness. With the constant, and at times tedious, exchange of greetings to every Tom, Dick and Harry, (or rather Sizwe, Thembeka and Ntokoza) around, one was forced to be aware of the extras in the film of My Life.

Today, as i treaded on worn heals over poorly lit cobbled streets, I drew alongside and began to overtake a woman in a turquoise coat. Simultaneously we stepped into a pool of light that was leaking from of a shop window,and I saw her shoulders heave. My hand gently touched the small of her back as I asked – “Are you ok?”

The question took her by surprise, and as she turned inside the leaking spool of light, I saw tears and a trembling mouth distorting her face. “Yes,” she offered hesitantly, before explaining  that a month ago her friend had died, she had come from the memorial service and was just starting to deal with it.

After enquiring after her health and offering to pray, we hugged it out and amicably parted ways. I hung back to give her space, yet I was reeling from the dull impact of her revelation.

Supposing I had never asked, but walked briskly home, head tilted towards the heavens, or grovelling at the ground? The relief that painted her white-washed features, the relief that someone cared, a stranger, who was touched by her pain and concerned enough to ask, seemed a premature catalyst to the healing process that she will need to undergo. Herself and her friends family.

Public awareness. So different from being street smart, but even more vital if we are to express compassion, love and basic humanity.

Rest Well Marcus.

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#232 ~ The Long Goodbye

The valiant one has come to stem the flow of sorrow. My brother’s name means that because he was born after all our grandparents died.

We grew up listening to stories about how great our grandparents were. How they used to discipline our Mum and her brothers, how Dad’s father pioneered education in his family. I just used to lament not getting the fabled boiled sweets that seemed to litter the stock image of grandparents in English Literature. But I never really mourned them – how could I, I never knew them.

Yet there is something, in my experience, of a pan-African culture whereby family, unity and community are foundational and incomparable. Everyone is your Aunty, everyone is your Uncle, and they can all and will all beat you just as much as your parents if you even so much as toe the line.

Perhaps prone to morbid fantasies, I have imagined what it would be like if my own parents died. They’re quite old but certainly don’t look it, and I am soberly aware that they may never see my children – although I fervently pray they will. Yet I could not imagine the pain, the heartbreak and the frustration to see my parents, as ‘old’ as they are, unable to recognize my face, my voice, my laugh. Unable to chastise me – or at least threaten to. How does one deal with a sensation such as that, with a reality such as that?

Sometimes I torment myself with the fear that my children might never meet my Father. Might never be subjected to one of his infamous after dinner lectures, or be coerced into listening to a dictation in order to watch his new DVD. They may never have my Mum waking them up with songs, before slapping a wet flannel over their bellies when they still refuse to wake up. They might never be witness to their wisdom, their stories; my Father’s attempt to tell a funny story which always ends in a nonsensical rasping choke as he wheezes out laughter instead of lucidly communicating his humor ( a trait I am proud to also portray.).

Yet there is something within the pan-African culture whereby family, unity and community are paramount. There is, when the opportunity is available, an unsettling respect for the elderly. Unsettling in comparison to the absolute lack of respect I know is shown back home to all those who bear freedom passes and often blue rinse their hair.

The fervent, fierce and proud love that I saw in my last weekend before I set off to help ‘build community’ and express compassion and empathy, bore a tiny hole deep into the valves of my heart. It taught me about the reverent respect I was also encouraged to show to my parents, yet my peers where pleaded too. I saw a love, which though it couldn’t be tangibly reciprocated, within the fractured mind of a half forgotten dream was deeply appreciated.

There is something within the pan-African culture whereby family, unity and community are respected – and it is only in that vein that a progressive vision for that continent might prosper.

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#222 ~ Death by the road side

I had never thought death could smell so powerful. It rolls like a boxer’s punch, assaulting the nostrils and gouging on the eyes till they alight on the lost creature. Fur slicked with what seems to be sweat, but is really the decomposing cells of the deceased body as they take on Hades fever, death runs its chillingly warm hands over the body, pressing its stench further out into the heavy, lugubrious summer air. I don’t know what carrion smells like. I didn’t know sorrow had a perfume. But roadkill has a sickly, sweaty, pungent stench which catches at the back of your throat, but doesn’t ignite the vomit reflex. It just sits their, ugly and oozing its own puss down your throat, turning your neck back towards the sweat slicked carcass hidden in the underbush. You wonder when it will stop lying there, when it will stop smelling and polluting your fine summer air, when it will stop catching at the back of your throat, clinging to the knotted curls of your hair, slicked back with the sweat of summer air, or could that be…

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#209 ~ One Hundred Words and a Photo: 19

The orange bannisters were playing tricks with my mind. In the vertigo swirl I could feel the remains of the Granny Smith peels running riot ‘round my tonsils. Sweat like vinegar was pinching at my cheeks, drooling over my chin, pooling under my eyebrows. It was a narrow shaft, but not narrow enough. Not narrow enough to keep out the memories that were ordered, like interlinking lines in my mind, tunneling down and down into an abyss of nothing-ness. Just cold, hard concrete and a half-forgotten scream. The shadow still looked like his blood, fresh on the steps.

Copyright: Victoria. O

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