Beautiful pictures that mask the pain of real life struggles

Kwanele Ndlovu Singles Lane
A photo of mom's vacation on Table Mountain doesn't tell the full story.
A photo of mom's vacation on Table Mountain doesn't tell the full story.

A cousin of ours gave birth to a boy this past Monday, a baby she doesn't want and does not want to love. He remains nameless.

We call him the "new born" in the meantime.

It is hoped that after some therapy she might be agreeable to breastfeeding him.

One of my aunts sent me a photo of the mother and child staring into each other's eyes. She held him in her arms, noticeably far from her chest and was gazing at him, unaware that my aunt had captured that moment.

Anyone looking at that image will be forgiven for seeing love and admiration. There's even a reluctant smile on the mother's face as she looks at the newborn. I want to say she is looking at the baby lovingly because I do not want to imagine the alternatives.

That particular photograph reminded me of a random moment when I was going through family photo albums many years ago.

I was still quite young, and would ask my mother about the photos and the locations they were shot at.

There was one particular photograph of both my parents on Table Mountain.

They were beautiful.

My father was an athlete and a decorated karateka. He was lean and his khakhi safari suit fitted him as if they'd been tailored on his body. He spotted an Afro and looked like an African god. He was complemented by my mother, who stood on his left side like a queen.

She wore a beautiful dark floral dress, with the helm slightly sweeping the rock they stood on as the wind blew it towards her husband. Her hair was big. She wore rose-coloured sunglasses. Her light skin glowed in the sun. The picture was perfect.

I asked her about the visit to Table Mountain, and what she remembered from the Cape. She took one glance at the photograph. No intrigue. No excitement.

"Oh that! I was wearing sunglasses because I had a blue eye. You father had hit me that morning."

There are many other beautiful photographs of my parents. None of the pictures depict any pain. There is no trauma in the colour and texture, and the backgrounds are magnificent. There is not a single trace of tears, and no screams in those frames. If anything, their history is distorted by the photos that they collected over the years. The family album betrays my mother's truth and erased her story.

I guess it is the case with almost all of us, including my dear cousin and her newborn child.

So much detail on our lives is lost in time. The parts about our lives that need to be healed are not even known or seen.

While we live in darkness and struggle, we keep beautiful photographs.

X