Don’t mention the war

Don’t mention that your grandparents escaped gas ovens,
think of something nice to say,
anyway it was long ago and you’re still here almost!
Don’t mention the men in balaclavas
who beat you and your husband in front of your three year old
child before locking you in the boot of your car.
Crime brings down property values so don’t mention it,
don’t mention Marikana and who gets what,
and don’t try to come up with a theory or
make some claim about the relationship of crime to poverty,
you’ve never been poor so make do with your lot and
don’t mention the robbers that crossed the double stand adventure garden
and forced themselves into the French windows of your 3-bedroomed farmhouse
and dragged you out of your dream under your duck-down duvet.
You pinched your lips together stifled sound as they
manhandled you around the house demanding money
and kicked away the teacher’s salary in your wallet because
it was not enough. Don’t mention that you looted your child’s money box
for the one hundred dollars that her aunt in the US sent to her
in increments of ten dollars per birthday and Christmas
for the past five years, don’t mention them
(especially to the child! She’ll be FURIOUS).
Don’t mention that they tied you up and threatened to shoot you
(Ag, there was no sign of a gun and they were young and sounded foreign) and don’t mention
that after they left you dragged yourself (and the chair you were tied to) to the panic button and
pressed it with your chin and the security company took 40 minutes to come and so you had
ample time to think and mostly you thought
Wonderful! I am alive!

first published in Baobab Magazine, South African Journal of New Writing, Summer 2012, © Phillippa Yaa de Villiers 2012, used by permission of the author.

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