The Red Balloon

Today Muneeza died and it made me so angry. I dug in my drawers until I found my village file and I pulled out a letter from her. And her letter said, I love you and give my salaams to your parents and Hashim Amla. Forgive me if I did anything wrong to you. Please come back. It was in her neat, neat writing and there was a flower drawn in the back. And all I could do was cry and read her letter.

Later at a shop I saw a helium balloon and I bought one to cheer me up because I needed a balloon, because I love balloons that float and even though I like flowers now (more than before) I had to have the balloon and so I took it in the car to make me feel better, only it made me feel worse because I was still angry and the balloon kept blocking my view of the back as I drove and I thought I would meet into an accident because of this bloody red balloon and at one point I told the balloon, ‘Fuck you.’

When I parked I took the balloon out and right next to me there was a family sitting in the back of a van and I gave the balloon to a little boy, about two and he didn’t seem to know what to do with it, and his father said, ‘it’s fine’ and I didn’t know if he meant it’s fine we’ll take it, or it’s fine we don’t want it but I put it in his hand and somehow, even though I know it sounds stupid it was for Muneeza.

Later when I came back to my car there was a small girl in the back of the van and she was laughing and waving at me and she asked me in Zulu what I had in my hand and I tried to speak back to her in Zulu and later I gave her and her brother a hug.

‘Byebyebyebyebye’ they shouted as I drive off and I shouted ‘byebyebye’ back.

And I am still angry. I am still angry. But I am glad I bought the balloon and I am glad I gave it away. And I am glad there was a little girl waving to me as I left.

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