Remembering and creating fatherly love

In this submission for the ‘Love in the time of social distancing’ series carried by Imbawula, the storytelling organisation, the Filmmaker Mr Lebogang Rasethaba writes about rituals, fatherhood and memory.

When we don’t have the banalities of everyday out of home existence as a buffer for our emotions, the default factory settings for relationships, Monday to Thursday – some would argue a necessary tool of survival for cohabiting – when you can’t talk about your day or what you did or saw or any office gossip, things get real existential real quick.

On Sunday afternoon I was sitting on the couch in a dimly lit daze when my wife Makosha asked me what I was thinking about. I said I was trying to see if there were any links between rituals and memory. I repeated the sentence to show my commitment to conversing and as a way to confirm that I had fully escaped the daze. I hadn’t fully escaped the daze.

What did I do with my father on Sunday afternoons? Where was my mom? After a brief silence, I went into great and romantic detail about driving with him to Honeydew, to fetch pine cones for the fire. ‘They burn slow you know, much slower than firewood’. I remember the car not having a working radio, what did we speak about? Surely we didn’t sit in silence for all that time?

“I remember the car not having a working radio, what did we speak about? Surely we didn’t sit in silence for all that time?”

And then my instinct of self preservation – by far my most active instinct , the only one deserving a bonus come Christmas – fell away and I remembered that we moved into a house with a fire place when I was a lot older. But in my mind the Lebo sitting in the car on that chilly Sunday afternoon with his father to fetch pine cones was a lot younger. “Jesus , how the fuck am I meant to trust my memory if it’s always lying to me?” ( The narrator would like to clarify at this point that it wasn’t Lebo’s memory that was lying, but Lebo himself).

A silence fell upon the room, broken by intermissions of my son Lentswe clapping for himself every time he conquered the obstacle course he had built. It was made of cushions and after each time he would successfully climb over it, he would clap. Sometimes I joined him, still recovering from the narrow passages of my daze, induced by fake memories. I conceded, sighing, ‘I guess I am trying to find ways to create rituals for Lentswe that will one day hopefully become real memories.’

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