Dance of the Dead

They started to dance with joy, a spontaneous expression of their happiness that required no spoken words to explain how deeply affected they felt by our presence.  The rhythm of clapping hands and stomping feet, the frenzy of each individual spurring the one next to them on, dust filling the air and our lungs, and the merciless African midday sun.  That is how the uninitiated become swept up and drowned in an intoxicating belief that these people dancing are okay; that they are not starving, poverty-ridden, filthy and desperate.  That just the night before, Xandi finally murdered his wife by beating her with a stick after a drunken quarrel that had been going on for decades, while at precisely that same time Zisu placed a quivering hand over her newborn son’s mouth and nose until his tiny heart broke, because she knew he would have to grow up in a society that would never rise from its knees and walk to freedom, and it would eat every ounce of him along the way so desperate was its hunger.  And so the dance of joy is a mask worn upon the village face; a death mask that lulls the visitor to a place of compassion and the terrible belief that they will be able to make a difference.  Well, each year sees a new group of fools in this region – has done so for thirty years – and still the village starves.  Someone else noticed this trend.  And decided to end it.  So here we are, not to help these folk up onto their feet, but into their graves.

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One thought on “Dance of the Dead

  1. Evelyn

    This is incredible. and while I dont think I fully understand an obvious back story, again, the imagines are strong and clear.
    I feel like I am whirling on the dancefloor and seeing your characters there, as you describe them.

    Reply

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