It is half past four in the night and all is quiet. The world around me is asleep, people lost in their dreams, their last chance to catch up on whatever nightmares they didn't turn real during the year - and me - I am not asleep; I lived my nightmare this year.
It was a hot summer this year, yet the day my father died it rained. He spent not even a month in hospital, yet it felt like a year full of only rainy days. A tumour had grown out of his head, rebellious cells on the loose, and you have to strike hard against rebels, every sage in white will tell you so. And so they struck hard, the white-clad priests of medicine, and killed the tumour, cutting the abscess loose, pulling it out of my father's head, just like you would kill an ancient god. Deprived of his mutant cells, my father lost consciousness a few days later, slipping into a coma somewhere between this and the other side of reality, hooked up to machines keeping him, technically, alive, gradually taking over his vital functions as one organ after the other gave up. Life became numbers on a screen.
Finally, on a rainy summer day, the white clerics and their wonder-machines could do no more. It's in the nature of things. And so, would we have a chaplain? Some of the good, old psalms? Maybe a prayer?
In the end we listened to music, like so often before, and I read to my dad, and just as I reached the end of the book, my father died.
A few days before my father died, I recorded the sound of his breathing through the respirator which kept him alive, and I used this sound as the core rhythm for a song called Living Dead. My father used to play guitar and we'd often joked about how it might be fun to do a piece of music together, and so, in the end, this was the only way to do it. I wrote the song, based on some lyrics I'd originally done at his place, some dark night a few years back, and recorded it in the month after his death.
Now reading old journal entries from 2001, I notice I went to a harpsichord concert at the local church, with my dad, one fine spring evening. I remember how, after the concert, one of the musicians told me how, originally, the strings of the harpsichord were plucked by raven feathers. In the same journal entry, I'd also added some ideas for lyrics that would later turn into a song, Living Dead; 'I am an African nation, left to starvation. And I am losing my power, like a Jew in a shower. And if breathing took will I should surely be on the other side of reality.'
The next time I was in that same church was for my father's funeral, playing my synthesizer, carrying him to his grave. A large black stone, in the shape of a book, marks the spot. I drew a raven which is engraved in the stone.
Copyright: Ras Bolding 2004