Those who laugh – Wazi M Kunene

 A week after Christmas, the Mohare family were burying their daughter Nthabiseng. It was a sunny day and whether people wanted to cry or not, the sun made sure to make their skin wail. However, Ntate Mohare had warned his son Kagiso not to cry during the funeral, he said “Nthabiseng wanted to die, we do not cry for those who carry their graves on their necks and hide their letters in their stomach, no we do not cry for Nthabiseng”.

So 12 year old Kagiso held back his tears during the funeral of his 16 year old sister Nthabiseng. He also remembered that his mother would not cry during his grandmother’s funeral a year ago. When Kagiso asked why his mother would not cry for her mother, she said “Son not everybody has tears of joy”. So Kagiso held back his tears but of course the sun, the sun set on his chest, making his whole body wet.

Kagiso did not cry even when seeing his sister’s coffin slowly get buried into a deep hole. He watched as extended family members lined up to throw sand in her grave, just as women send gifts to a newly married woman for her new home.

Days after the funeral, Kagiso and his father, would walk around the house looking for anything to fix. One day Ntate Mohare once disarmed the kitchen table and ‘fixed’ it again hoping his wife would find it safe enough to carry three hot plates but for days an empty flower vase stood there unmoved. Whilst looking for anything broken to fix, Kagiso asked his father “Why do we plant people deep into the ground when they stop laughing?”

Kagiso had last heard his sister Nthabiseng laugh in her room but the next morning her neck was roped to the living room chandelier, Nthabiseng wasn’t laughing anymore. Her feet swiming in the air, Nthabiseng was not laughing anymore! Kagiso kept thinking, he will never know what Nthabiseng was laughing about, he will never know why Nthabiseng would sit her neck on a rope that would never let her laugh again. So Kagiso asked his father again “Why do we plant people deep into the ground when they stop laughing?”

Ntate Mohare answered his son “My son, Nthabiseng dug that whole herself, I now know that when she laughed, it was so we would not hear her shovel knocking into the ground. Now my son we do not talk of those who laugh.”

Kagiso and his father continued checking for things to fix around the house. After some time they decided to rest in the now dark living room that no longer had a chandelier. They sat quite as if listening to the air, as if they would hear something break and run to fix it. But no, not even the flapping of the wings of a fly would be heard for hours, until they heard MmeMohare laughing in her bedroom.

Both Ntate Mohare and his son Kagiso lifted their heads and stared at where the living room chandelier was positioned. MmeMohare continued to laugh alone and the living room was getting darker and darker. Moments later MmeMohare stopped laughing.

Both Ntate Mohare and his son Kagiso quickly got up. Ntate Mohare got his ladder and Kagiso carried his father’s tool box, they pulled down the house main switch and turn on their torches.

This time Ntate Mohare was convined there was something to fix in the house. With his son Kagiso, he went around every room of the house removing chandeliers but when they got to Ntate and MmeMohare’s room, holding the door handle, Ntate Mohare was not sure if it would be too late to remove the chandelier.


Two hearts beating fast and loud, slowly Ntate Mohare pulled the door handle

but when he pushed the door, it would not open





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