The life expectancy for men in Angola is 51 years (so I have beaten that) and for women, 53 years.
I have always found it amazing that statistics prove women out live men in Africa yet they generally suffer lives of servitude, hard labour both of the physical and maternal kind, all kinds of abuse and are generally considered as second class citizens.
Well they are not second class by any measure. Africa, generally a basket case of violence, exploitation and corruption would collapse completely if it were not for its women. If it were not for women, the men would simply starve to death. The fields would not be tilled. There would be no water to drink let alone wash or cook with and the crap would pile up on unswept yards. There would be no informal markets so no razor blades for the men to shave with and no clothes would be washed. The very first thing a girl having mastered the art of walking learns, is to carry a heavy pot on her head. Six year old girls already know how to carry water and wash dishes. Nine year old girls not only know but are expected to make funge, the staple diet made from manioc paste requiring a muscular effort to beat the mix that even eludes me. At fourteen the men consider them eminently fuckable. It is a hard life bereft of anything we in the developed world would call a childhood.
Marcia's mother has beaten the odds by a long way. She is 69. By contrast my mother is 76 and still going strong and although frail and complaining, my grandmother is still alive and in her very late nineties.
Alex loves Marcia's mother, his Granny, because she spoils him rotten. Every now and then, Alex would demand to be taken into the city so he could spend a few days with his Arvo (Granny) before returning completely full of himself. Three or so days at his Granny's required a week at least of retraining so much licence did she give him.
I am a lot older than Marcia so sadly know what it means to lose someone close. My father died too young. My nephew died indecently young aged only three when he fell into a neighbour's pool. I have helped bury a lot of people in my time some of whom where colleagues but experience doesn't make it any easier, especially when you know what the main mourner is going through.
I love Marcia so much. Apart from my two boys I have never loved anyone with such intensity. If only it were within my gift to spare her such pain.
Marcia's mother is dying, Marcia is with her now in hospital. I am babysitting Alex, dusting off my dark suit and polishing my shoes. I really wanted to be with her but I agree with Marcia, perhaps it isn't such a good idea to let a four year old watch his Granny die.