Mbane, a blind disabled young man is the epitome of anguish. His short life is filled with pain and hopelessness and thus he sees no reason why he should believe in God. Despite the unrelenting bleakness, he has an iota of hope. He dreams of a future bright life beyond the pangs of darkness, and this gives him optimism and he sings his own happy song, silently to himself, secretly.
He hopes that death will free him from his pain.
Characters in A Silent Song
Ezekiel – his brother
Sarah – Ezekiel’s wife
Key Events In A Silent Song
Pain (pg. 17)
Resigned (pg. 17)
Hard street life (pg. 18)
Unfulfilled dreams (pg. 18)
Loneliness in the streets (pg. 19)
Judgmental Christians (pg. 19)
Hope and the silent song (pg. 20)
Freedom at last (pg. 20)
Plight of people living with disability
Is death liberating for a man living in anguish?
A SILENT SONG SUMMARY
The gloomy tale opens with a description of Mbane’s agony. He suffers paralyzing pain in his spine and stomach. The torturous moment is short lived but he anticipates another attack. Mbane capitulates in despair. Giving up the fight, he lets go his chin and hits his forehead on the flea ridden floor.
Mbane is utterly hopeless. His desolate world is filled with gloomy darkness. Things like time, day or beauty have no meaning to him. Due to his sightlessness, such things are beyond his reach. In his desperation, he lives only to withdraw. He never hits back. Since he is unimpressive, he crawls away from threats, resignedly awaiting his impending ominous end.
As much as his current situation is despondent, it was worse before. He lives in a suspicious hut after his brother, a preacher, rescued him from the streets of the city. He is rescued from the difficult life on the rugged, noisy streets where he survived on the mercy of the busy city people who occasionally heeded his entreaties and dropped a copper in his hat.
In the serenity of his new domicile, Mbane felt meaning in his brother’s silence and strangeness in his voice. His brother avers that he rescued him so that he could “see the light of God.” (pg. 18)
As much as the street had come to being his life, Mbane had no capacity to perceive its length, width, beauty or size. He could only hear but not share about the bright weather, lovely morning or beautiful sunset. He was taunted by the pedestrians’ songs about the blue sky and their whistles to the gay morning which to him were totally indiscernible. He was happy about the gay people since they answered his plea unlike the dull, anxious people with empty pockets.
During the day, Mbane endured the torturous heat of the unforgiving sun and the tenacious flies while at night he had no choice but to brace the biting cold. He also had to put up with the occasional thieves. The city people worked during the day and enjoyed themselves in bars and brothels at night. The strange rhythms from the buildings in which they had fun, lured Mbane.
Mbane’s brother married around his own age. Mbane can only harbor fruitless desires for such fulfillment but his reality is a world of darkness and lameness.
When his brother’s wife gives him medicine, he experiences another bout of pain. She encourages him with thoughtful words but he knows that she is not frankly optimistic for him. When his brother comes in, both men remain silent for a long time. This is not unusual for Mbane who was accustomed to speaking to himself in his thoughts while on the streets.
Ezekiel, his brother, asks him if he believes in God and he replies that he doesn’t know and it doesn’t matter.
Their late religious mother equated all men to one stream, flowing through the rocks of life. They cried in the falls and wild whirl-pools but laughed and sang when the flow was smooth and undisturbed. The water branched into a narrow heavenly pool and a wide gulf of a chaotic flood. Mbane feels distant and removed from this mythical description of humanity that he is not part of. He feels like the bitter fluid in his own throat, not the good water. He sees no reason to believe in God. (pg. 19)
While God represents light, Mbane wallows in forgotten darkness. While some Christians offered him coins on Christmas Day, others cursed him calling him an able-bodied pest is physically disabled by his lazy loafing ways.
In his world of eternal darkness, Mbane clings on to his belief and dream of future life. He hopes for a bigger, meaningful, glorious feeling beyond his sightlessness. He sings a secret silent song that fills him with expectation and desire. He wishes for his journeys end so that his soul could experience this wonderful destination. Mbane’s soul is imprisoned in his sweaty, unwashed body and he wishes that it was free. That is a welcome reprieve from his suffering and damnation.
His brother desperately wants him to accept Jesus and be baptized before he dies. That is why he brought him here.
Before long, Mbane dies a peaceful, painless death – smiling.