I attended a funeral in Thaba Nchu recently and I left a little sad. Not over the funeral - the man was quite old, he had lived a good life. No, I was sad because I wondered what my funeral will be like.
I know, I sound like an old lady, but seriously, who’s going to lay me to rest, guys? Funerals are a community affair where I am from and I have yet to attend a funeral in the suburbs.
I love the warm embrace of a community that starts packing the yard when there is a death in the family. Aunties rocking up with baked goods, uncles gathering in circles outside. Meat experts heading straight to the makeshift cooking stations, those of us with lesser culinary abilities arriving with our knives and peelers.
If your yard isn’t ready for people you get volunteers offering to clean it up a bit. Every night someone leads the prayers in the build-up to the funeral.
Then there’s that night vigil, prayers and hymns that go on until midnight. Surrounding neighbours avail their yards for extra parking and extra ablutions.
Loss of a loved one is a shared experience and nobody waits for an invitation.
I see the practicalities as such: The kids will rent a really fancy casket for me - yes, rent, I am being cremated, let’s not be wasteful.
Then they’ll have to warn the neighbours that a live cow will be arriving, to be slaughtered by that evening. They mustn’t worry: it will be slaughtered at an abattoir then taken to a butchery to be carved.
Caterers will be hired, much to the chagrin of aunties and uncles.
The biggest disappointment might be for my family who will be dressed to the nines ready to rub shoulders with celebs. I don’t live in Celebville.
I only know my neighbours via WhatsApp from all the messages we send each other about suspicious-looking cars and people, or missing pets.
I don’t live in the place where I know the aunty who used to shout at me or the guy who used to hit on me or the kids I used to go to school with. It scares me. It scares me more than dying, because it seems so damn lonely.
Thinking of funerals, with speeches ranging from neighbours to old schoolmates to ex-colleagues, reminds me of the importance of relationships.
My grandmother used to say if we don’t go to people’s funerals, nobody will come to ours.
Pity she didn’t tell us the part about how we get our neighbours interested in whether we are dead or not.