“There is another funeral tomorrow.” He has just come out of his house.
“Oh, Ntate,” I had been standing in our yard, trying to judge if I had enough time before sunset to get a bucket of water.
He adjusts his olive green coat, puts his hand up to hold his head over the grey baseball cap. He looks at me. “Yeah,” he says.
“I’m so sorry.” I don’t know what to say. “It’s too many, Ntate.”
“Yeah. It is a baby girl. Another one.” He walks past me to stand under the peach tree and look out over his pigs, his shop down the hill, the mountains across the way. Last week there was the funeral for a brother of my counterpart, a man who knows my Ntate well, and who lives in the village.
I walk closer to Ntate. I want to probe a little bit, for better or worse. “Ntate, was it always like this?”
He looks at me, then back at his mountains. “Yeah, three years ago. There were many then also.”
“No,” I say too quickly, impatient to finally make a bridge of real communication with him. “I mean, twenty, thirty years ago.” I know he has been living in this village since the 60’s. I want to know what he has seen, noticed.
“No,” He turns to look at me quizzically, baffled at my ignorance. “It is this Aids,” he says curtly.
And his eyes dart back to the mountains. They are vibrant green now, orange glittering on the rocks, looming and timeless in this light before night time.