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Loving Judith:you are my sunshine
Not the sound of laughter or the smell of rain, not the warmth of the sun, not anything would ever be as clear as when I belonged to her and she belonged to me.
The envelope that had arrived in the morning in her handwriting laid on the bed, I could not bring myself to open it. But if it were her she would have ripped it open the instant the post man shoved it in the post box. It was my birthday, the second worst day of my life. Just two weeks ago she sat at the foot of my bed and teased “You’ll be legal kid. In just two weeks you will eighteen! And not soon enough.”
“Babe, don’t you think it’s an omen that my birthday is finally on a Friday?” I asked digging into her bag for some sweets.
“No man. The worst that could happen is you die on your birthday or the world ends… but come to think of it that would kif if it actually happened.”
“Ja, the only other person I know of that died of their birthday is Shakespeare.”
A tear trickled to my cheek, if I knew then what I know today I wouldn’t have said what I said next, I would have joked and warned. I would have told her my true thought of her boyfriend; Malik Rasou, rock and roll drug dealer.
“So Malik wants me to go to this bash with him next week Saturday, it’s at the Pub. I know it’s going to be a jol!”
“The pub, nice. “ I scoffed
“Oh come on Kiki, what’s wrong with the Pub?” she asked snatching the piece of chocolate in my hand.
She arched her left eyebrow “ Well nice doesn’t sound like nothing to me.”
“Let it go Judy.”
“Say it. You know it’s killing you.”
“The Pub is a fossil hangout!” I spat laughing.
“Is that it? He’s 21 babes! He was born only three years before us.”
“Yup, right after he invented fire!”
She tossed the cushion she was hugging and we burst out laughing. That laughter that brightened my day, the same sound that made me love her when every sense in my body begged me to hate her. Judith and I met in seventh grade when she moved from Cape Town to Jo’burg. She was wearing about ten blue bangles and when I asked her about them she gave me one to keep. The next day she said to me
“Don’t worry about them; they don’t know what they are missing. And if they can’t see how great you are then they don’t deserve you.”
“Oh.” Was all I managed.
I took her journal from the bedside table, I opened to a page that carried her essence, it showed why I love her so.
I look at Kiki and I wonder if she knows how great she is;
I wonder if she knows that she is the best part of me.
I look at my best friend and wonder she knows that she’s my soul,
I sometimes look at her and wonder if she knows I love her.
If I were to die, tonight, on this bed she would be the only thing about this world
I would miss.
I know that she will always have my back and look out for me.
I couldn’t stop the sob that followed. I didn’t have her back that night, I didn’t save her or try to look out for her. She sent me an sms that I didn’t reply to, she asked me to ask my dad to go and get her at the Pub ‘cause her date was busy. A half an hour later she phoned me:
“Hey Kiks!” she yelled into my ear.
“Hi. What’s up?” I asked sleepily
“Don’t worry about fetching me, I got a ride.”
“I couldn’t, Sipho is at a work function.” I said as I heard my dad’s car pull into the garage “Oh he just got home.”
“Well see you tomorrow kiddo.”
“I love you Kifilwe.” She murmured
“Haha, love you too.”
I hung up and went to sleep. In a couple of hours I awoke to a nightmare, the worst day of my existence. After opening my bedroom window I went to the family room, my mum was sitting on the sofa in her usual night attire with a blanket around her shoulders. My dad in his pajamas was pacing the floor with a cup of coffee in hand.
“Morning!” I announced.
“Sweetheart.” was all my mother said.
“Kiki, I have some disturbing new.” Dad said motioning me to sit on the sofa next to a now sobbing mum.
“What is it? Is it Grammy? I asked thinking of my 89 year old great grandmother.
“No she’s ok, sweetheart it’s Judith…” he trailed of
“Didn’t she come home last night, she phoned asking for a ride but she said some guy offered her a lift.” I explained.
“Yes, there was a guy. He had been drinking.” Dad started to tell me.
I hid my face in my mum’s blanket. Thoughts going a 100km/ph; Oh My God was she badly injured, would she be in the hospital long? I had to see her and make sure she was ok! I had to apologise!
“Take me to her!” I ordered my father “Take me to the hospital dad!” I was now on my feet
“Sweetheart… Judith was in a horrible accident.” He said looking at me with sympathy
“Yeah I know! Come on dad you’re wasting time. She’ll want to see me immediately!” I yelled tears running down my face and my body trembling.
“I’m sorry darling, but she died on impact.” And he wrapped me in his arms
My heart stopped for a second, and I lost all sense of being. Looking back at that day I realize that subconsciously I knew the truth the moment it happened. When my universe altered as she took her last breath my heart knew it, my mind couldn’t believe it but my heart knew the truth.
“What did you mean accident Pa?!” I demanded breaking free from my father’s arms. “A cup didn’t break! My best friend was killed, that’s an accident. That’s an atrocity, a crime, genocide! Why are you sitting here Ma Khumalo? I asked mama “You have some lawyering to do!”
The state opened a case against the other driver who was also driving and because Judy’s driver died too. Because she’s Muslim she was buried the day after the accident and her mum sent her journal to my home. And an invitation to the reading of her will. Even beyond the grave she was a drama queen .
It was my birthday Friday November 13th and Judith sent me a gift, it was in a thin envelope I ripped it open and found a piece of paper that simply read:
You are my sunshine.