Why is that we try to salvage what we have, only after we realize we are about to lose that special something? Is it enough to realize the mistake and ask for reconciliation? Or is it easier to simply let go and let live?
I went to Checkers today and while I was waiting in the checkout line I noticed the woman standing in front of me had various wounds covering the exposed parts of her body. She had scratches on the left side of her face, her left arm was bandaged up, random cuts marked her forearms and her hands—at times the cuts formed crosshatched patterns. My eyes stared at her neck and her chest and I concluded that she was burned on these parts of her body.
I could not look away, but I knew it was inappropriate for me to continue staring at her. I shifted my glance and fixed my eyes upon the candy bars lined up on the shelf next to the cashier. A deep sadness filled my chest. I shifted my gaze upon the groceries randomly tossed into my grocery basket and held back my tears.
The woman collected her groceries from the man who placed her items in the plastic bag. She walked out of the grocery store. How could she continue to live her life each day knowing about the trauma that she had experienced in her past? How was she able to have the courage to walk into that grocery store? Did she personally know the person who attacked her? Was it her husband? Boyfriend? Neighbor? Does she still live with this person? What resources were available to her to help her get out of her situation? Those were the questions that ran through my mind as I fought back my tears.
Her bandaged arm made me conclude that her attack had been a recent occurrence. Fresh blood clots were visible beneath her bandages. Slowly I unloaded my groceries onto the conveyor belt and avoided looking into the cashier’s eyes. I could not allow him to witness the pain I felt within my heart. I was overwhelmed with unimaginable sorrow. I walked out of Checkers with my head down and avoided eye contact with anyone who passed by.
I carried that pain with me throughout my long walk back to Denison. Carried that pain with me while I unpacked my groceries into my refrigerator. Allowed that pain to continue to grow within me while I took a shower. Held onto that pain until I arrived in my room. Sat down on my bed and cried.
That woman was not the first person I have seen with tragic wounds. When we first arrived here a friend of mine mentioned that she constantly sees people with random wounds on their bodies. She predicted that most of the people had been burned. Since then, it seems as if everyone I see has horrific wounds on their bodies.
My psychology lecturer mentioned that a great number of South Africans suffer from post traumatic stress disorder because of the high rates of random violence that takes place in this country. There is a girl who lives close to me whose arm is missing. A friend of mine has a large scar on his forearm. I asked him what happened. He was burned. He quickly changed the subject.
I do not think I have enough strength to witness another person being pushed in a wheelchair. One of my housemates confirmed that yes; those people were wounded because of random gun violence.
The photo above was taken from a church gallery I visited in South Africa, which documented the history of South Africa before and after apartheid. The place was called the Regina Mundi Church. Here is the website, if you want to know more about the church:
Is to welcome a desolate life filled with sorrow For you see, this paintbrush
Though it may seem like a mere object to you
Is my life source And every stroke I produce is my tongue
Detailing every thought on my mind
And the passions in my heart I feel as though I am fading each day
Because I am forced to depart
From what allows me to breathe From what allows me to think From what allows me to be free within this young body of mine Slowly I grow lonesome each day
Because I am forced to stop myself from touching
What I in fact desire In order for me to focus on more practical things But those practical things are nonsensical and alien
To this being that does not know how to fit into that form
That has already been dictated Is it truly realistic to live comfortably
While knowingly acknowledging my self-deterioration? Sometimes I feel as if I have surrendered
And indeed I am defeated when I witness my canvases tucked in the corner
Covered with dust Lying on the floor with paint chipped off the sides Lying on the floor with unfinished brushstrokes Unopened paint tubes next to neatly wrapped canvases
Next to newly-purchased-never-been-held palettes I go through a process of withdrawal Followed by self-analysis Then converse with myself and question
Why have I not formulated a way to have this process discontinued? I need to live I need to breathe
Through my canvases
Document my stories through fine lines and coloration Blend each hue and form gradations Trace each outline and create pigmentations Grab hold of my paintbrush and then exhale Let my emotions dye white canvases