MEMORIES WE LOST a short story by Lidudumalingani Mqombothi

MEMORIES WE LOST a short story by Lidudumalingani Mqombothi

Question: “Understanding, love and care is all that patients suffering from mental illness need.” 

                Essay by Chris Hani Misama Ogweno (

Mental illnesses are devastating to the people affected. These people need heartfelt affection to make them feel comfortable. In Mqombothi’s short story “Memories We Lost” the narrator’s sister suffers from Schizophrenia, a mental illness. Her sister and mother show much care to her as my essay illustrates.

Firstly, at the onset of the text the mother shows her love and care for her daughter. One night when the “thing” – (schizophrenia) came to her she ran away from the village screaming and shouting. The whole village was awakened and men and boys went out to search for her thus showing their concern. Though they came back without the narrator’s sister, her mother did not give up the search for the daughter. The mother came back the next day at midday carrying the daughter on her back. She relentlessly continued searching for her daughter until she found her thus showing her love and care for the daughter.

Secondly, the narrator’s sister also shows her care for her sister by not blaming her. One day when the narrator was bonding with her and telling stories and in the middle of a joke the “thing” struck again. The schizophreniac girl was seated near a hot porridge pot and she flung it across the room burning the narrator on her chest. When she came to, she was sad and wondered what happened to her sister. The narrator knew so well that her sister would be devastated if she knew she was the one who burnt her. Out of love and care for her sister she told her that she had spilt hot water on herself. 

Thirdly, the narrator shows her concern and affection for her sister when she plans for her disposal of traditional medication. The narrator went back to school and learned about the nature of her sister’s sickness. She learnt about schizophrenia and knew that the traditional herbs that her mother found for her were ineffective in curing it. She devised a method of disposing the herbs and medication prescribed by the Sangomas. The sister learned the method and soon she was doing it herself and with a smile. The narrator says that this helped her to recognize herself. Indeed the narrator’s affection towards her sister helps her regain herself.

Lastly, the sister helps the sister escape from a severe and seemingly catastrophic ritual. When one day the narrator overhears her stepdad and mother talking about a Nkunzi who literally bakes people suffering from her sister’s condition she is shocked. She realizes the futility of this exercise and wants to save her sister. Out of love for her sister she decides to escape with her with no specific destination in her head, “no thoughts of food or place of sleep,” as the story narrates. She heaves a sigh of relief when she finally sees “HOSPITAL” from a distance. The narrator sacrificed everything for the eventual well-being of her sister. 

In conclusion, all the narrator’s sister needed was someone who understood her condition and loved her enough to ensure her well-being and hopefully recovery and this she finds in her sister. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *