the beautiful one


The CHORUS tunes the radio to a gentle tune. SILUMKO rises at the sound of it and begins to move as if in a dream,

CHORUS: Remember mama’s cupboard / remember how warm and safe it felt to crawl into that dark space amongst her shoes / slipping your small feet into her brown leather court shoes / with a low practical heel / worn only on special occasions / and, looking up, seeing her church dress hanging there / lilac with little green flowers on it / nothing filling it but air / just waiting for a body to fill it / reach up and pull it down / (Silu drapes himself in the blanket) pull it over your head / arms through the holes / it’s very long on you / you wobble / hard to stay upright with your feet swimming in her shoes / catch sight of your reflection in the mirror / small beautiful, beautiful you / then, footsteps / door swinging open / Baba standing looking at you / laughing, kind laughter / going to the cupboard / fetching mama’s handbag and hanging it over your shoulder / fetching mama’s cloth hat and putting it on your head

SILUMKO: Look, baba, look at me!

BABA: Yes, my son, I’m looking / you are very beautiful

On the mattress in his AUNTIE’s house in Alex, SILUMKO collapses into sleep.