by NoViolet Bulawayo
He could have been wearing an expensive dress of bones, my brother Ronald, that’s how I remember him, lying there on that narrow bed by the broken window, skeletal thin like a man fed on pins all his life. There were the screaming curves of skull, a spine like the edge of a table, the most perfect jut of hip, knee, rib, bone and bone and bones, Jesus, nothing but bones. And then the skin, tautest cloth draping over the bones, over dried furrows, rivers of blood once, then the weary eyes, drowning in the depths of edged sockets.
This is how I remember him; I was fifteen and I woke up everyday to search the country of that strange new body for my brother. What I saw was war. And it raged and we watched it drag out, bombs falling above my sisters’ prayers, above my grandmother’s prayers, and at fifteen I crossed my fingers and thought, Like, isn’t this where God is s’possed to do something, like, can’t he hear them praying? The bombs fell above pills and medicines, above herbs and mutis and talismans, above every hopeful hope, every plea, every single thing that could have been; it was a terrible war and couldn’t nobody stop it but at fifteen it never occurred to me that my brother was dying, didn’t occur to me that this was the AIDS they were talking about on the news, the AIDS of foreign countries and whores and everything that was not who we were, and if it occurred to anybody then they kept it inside like blood and we walked around in silent silence, adults slow-dancing with grief already because yes, war was war —
Republished on HIV/AIDS|Zimbabwe Charity, INC. (HAZ) with prior written authorization from NoViolet Bulawayo.
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