Love After Love – Poem by Derek Walcott
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
I’m happy. And so are my children. A “new” family. They call him Dadtwo. For the first time…a decent house…decent school… decent car… decent clothes…a decent life.
No shouting… No police late at night… No crying… No moving from town to town… No empty liquor bottles….Peace. Quiet. Love. Laughter.
Then. One day. The announcement. Dadtwo is taking us on our first-ever holiday. Overseas!!! And the children are going with!!! . Huge excitement… new clothes…scuba lessons… passports.. Everyone off to Home Affairs…
Problem. Huge. The children’s biological father must give written consent for them to apply for passports…. Fokkin ridiculous!!! I don’t even know where the man is!!! Probably somewhere in a night shelter!!!. Or sleeping under Bridge Number 4, R300. Or The N2 High way for that matter…. Where must I start looking!!!!! I tried to explain it to the Home Affairs official but without success. Rules are Rules. No exception. Get a lawyer.
Saw an attorney… advice …start searching all the night shelters… For two days we drove from shelter to shelter… questioning… looking… searching. Stopped at every Bergie with a Checkers or Pick & Pay trolley … showing photos… asking… visiting soup kitchens… Nothing!!! Becoming desperate….Contacted family members… old time friends…drinking broers… useless. No one has heard or seen him for years…
No choice … High Court application … limitation of the father’s parental rights and rights of guardianship… we had to convince the court that we had done everything humanly possible to locate the father… advertisements in local newspapers… supporting affidavits…
Eventually we obtained the order… I am allowed to solely apply for the children’s travel documents, Identity documents, enroll them in schools, admit them to hospitals, medical treatment….
A long and tiresome process… an excessively expensive one. A lesson learnt.
In hindsight… it could have been predicted… given our history… and maybe even prevented.
(The song chosen… not so much for the family departing on their joyous holiday… but the sadness of goodbyes of on airports.. such a frequent occurrence these days – the world has become our homes).