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Sefudi's sadness


Donvé Lee

Sefudi likes to wonder about things, and before the Sadness came to settle in his heart, he liked to draw. He didn’t have paper and pencils but he drew with sticks and reeds and pieces of coal. He drew on his hands. He drew on his legs. He drew on the stones outside. He even drew on the walls of his house when his father wasn’t looking.

Before the Sadness came, there were many days that Sefudi’s mother was so sick that she couldn’t get out of bed. Every day the sickness stole more of the colour from her face and more of the flesh from her bones and more of the life out of her body. Until one day Sefudi heard the saddest voice that ever-there-was. It was a voice made strange by the sadness, but it was the voice of his father. The voice said, ‘Your beloved mother has gone.’

After that the sunshine went out of Sefudi’s heart and the sounds of laughter went out of his house and he didn’t want to draw. Ever again. The ache in his heart was MUCH bigger than the ache in his tummy when he had not eaten for the whole day. His heartache was so big that it took three years before the river of tears started spilling out of him.

On that day Sefudi was lying in his bed staring out the window. A big silvery moon was rising in the sky and a blanket of night was spreading over the world around him. He was feeling sleepy and he was wondering about something strange that a silly boy at school had said. This boy, who always thought he knew everything, had said, “Whoever fetches and carries wood on a Sunday will be sent to live on the moon forever”.

Sefudi wondered if people could really live on the moon. He was always wondering about things and he wondered about this for a long time until he fell asleep. While he slept he had a dream. In his dream he saw a lady on the moon carrying a bundle of wood on her head. In his dream he called out “LADY ON THE MOON, LADY ON THE MOON, IS MY MOTHER THERE WITH YOU? IF SHE IS, PLEASE SEND HER BACK TO ME.”

When he woke up the River of Sadness was rolling down his cheeks. There were millions and trillions of tears spilling out of him. They poured onto his tummy and they spilled onto his pillow and they ended up in a big pool in his bed.

The next day, Sefudi’s heart didn’t feel quite as heavy as before because he wasn’t carrying all those millions and trillions of tears inside him anymore.

But he still didn’t feel like drawing.

That night he dreamt again about a lady on the moon. This time her face was shining with love and kindness in the way that his mother’s face used to shine when she looked at him. She was carrying a big box of coloured crayons and big sheets of sparkling white paper. When he woke up she was gone, but she had left a smile in his heart. In the days and weeks after that, Sefudi started to laugh a little.

And he started to draw. A lot.

He drew on his hands and his arms and his legs and on his school desk and sometimes when he just couldn’t help himself he drew on the blackboard when the teacher wasn’t looking. One day his teacher became so tired of telling him to clean himself and everything else that she gave him a drawing book and a box of coloured pencils and his smile was the biggest smile that ever-there-was. And when Sefudi saw his brightly coloured pictures grow out of the sparkling white paper his heart began to sing.

As he grew older Sefudi’s drawings became more and more marvellous. His teachers and his aunts and his uncles and his father and his father’s friends said that he was a special boy with a special gift, because when they looked at his pictures the sunny colours melted some of the sadness in their hearts. And when they listened to the stories that the pictures told them, they understood things that they had never understood before.

Sefudi didn’t tell them about those strange and wonderful dreams. He didn’t tell them about the dream which caused the river of Sadness to pour down his cheeks. He didn’t tell them about the dream which planted a smile in his heart.

But some nights when the moon was a big silvery ball in the sky, and the darkness was silent and full of secrets, he looked for the Lady on the Moon. And the thought he saw her. Smiling.