Friday, August 21, 2009

Short Story: Part II

The letter lay there in its crumpled envelope with no stamps. James didn’t know where his three year old son was. He had read in a newspaper smuggled in from the outside that Pauline was constantly being harassed by the police. Two weeks ago, a newcomer had passed on the information that the landlord had kicked them out for the ‘disturbances.’ She had been out of work for a week and a half before James had been arrested. It hadn’t been her fault. It was never really one’s fault, these things that happened. Pauline had slapped the white man whose office she cleaned three days a week, for fondling her breasts.
-“You African whore!” He had breathed out in rage, his face crimson.
-“I’m telling you James, there was steam coming out of that old goat’s hairy ears.” She had laughed it off when she got home. “I’m just glad you’re back.” The last James had heard Pauline was staying with a friend. He didn’t know which one.

He looked down at his shadowy hands in the candlelight. They were the hands of a “thoroughly repulsive and objectionable character.” That’s what the judge had said he was. He was a cancerous member of society, eating away at the fabric of the established way of life. He was a black spot on a pure body. Instinctively, his left hand reached up to touch the mole on his right cheek. Yes, he was trying to destroy the status quo that had forced his family from Pimville to Jabavu. He wanted to break down the system that had killed his father and sacked him from his job for being a “strike organiser.” He was James Mange and he was guilty of high treason.

MK. Umkhonto we sizwe. He had been for a time, part of the spear of the nation... the black nation. He sighed again. He didn’t know how he would get this letter to his son. He didn’t know what to say. He didn’t know how to say he had been raped and beaten and seen a man die at his feet.

If there is anything I know, my son, it is that you must never give up fighting for that in which you believe.

That was so clichéd. What use did Prince have of these letters anyway? He couldn’t read. And by the time he learnt how to, if that time ever came, what would his world be like?
‘The struggle should be over by then. We are making headway. The people are finally rising up en masse,’ he thought. The struggle…Comrade Mange…Angola. They would win.
‘What if we don’t? You’ll never know. You are going to die.’ There was that tiny niggling voice in his head that spoke only in the dark. James grasped the pen more firmly between his fingers.
You should not forget the victories we have won already.

That was all he could write before he began sobbing. He quickly snuffed out the candle. It was better for him to save it for another night when he could write again. He curled up on the cold, hard floor. It was also better for a man to cry in the dark. He was James Mange, and he was to hang.

Stop the apartheid killing of James Mange! That was the bold headline in the newspaper the guard smuggled to him the next day. It was true that the story had only made page six, but this was not a South African newspaper he held in his hand. He didn’t know how the guard had gotten hold of a copy of the East Africa Standard, but he knew why he had given it to him. The international pressure was mounting, and not just because of Mandela and Sisulu. James Mange too was a player, but he was still dying. Tonight he would write. He would tell Prince about the man.

1 comment:

  1. This is a very good story, thanks to the author and congrats if she is the one I suspect. The story of James Mange and all the other ordinary James Mange of our continent has to be known for them not to have been killed in vain. Can't wait to read the third part...