Iko’s true friends were there for her, in her time of need

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS -

MY DEAREST friend Iko, I take com­fort from the fact that you took your last breath in the lov­ing arms of your mother.

In­deed, as you bat­tled with the ter­mi­nal ill­ness it be­came clear who were true friends. Even those that you and some of us re­garded as your car­ing friends showed their true colours.

A cou­ple of ques­tions begged an­swers dur­ing my visit to your hos­pi­tal bed.

Since your death, there has been a flood of trib­utes and even those who had aban­doned you in the hour of need have sud­denly emerged.

I asked on your be­half: “You were too busy to take my calls in my dy­ing bed yet you have all the time in the world to tell every­one I’m dead…

“You told your friends how much of a bur­den I was when I needed you the most yet you want to give me a dig­ni­fied send off…

“Make me un­der­stand.”

My dear friend, I have known you for about 17 years. Re­mem­ber how we met?

I re­mem­ber it like it was yes­ter­day. I was go­ing to a func­tion and a friend rec­om­mended you to do my make-up.

It was like love at first sight. We just hit it off.

And we have been friends ever since, al­though over the years, we would not see each other as much as we de­sired.

At the time Iko, you had a lot of friends and did make-up for a lot of renowned artists and celebri­ties.

I have al­ways been con­sumed by your very calm per­son­al­ity. You liked host­ing peo­ple and showed them your gen­uine love.

Pity the same peo­ple did not re­cip­ro­cate that love in your hour of need.

Like the typ­i­cal celebrity life, you had a lot of friends in your prime and only a hand­ful of friends were there for you in your last days.

Most turned their backs when you were di­ag­nosed with can­cer.

But true gen­uine friends like Manaka Ranaka were there for you in your dark­est hour.

She took you in and took good care of you. She was there through all the mis­ery and pain and did a lot to en­sure that you en­joyed the lit­tle that was left of your life af­ter you were di­ag­nosed.

I re­mem­ber spend­ing count­less days with you in hos­pi­tal when you were un­der­go­ing chemo­ther­apy.

At times I wished I could go through that pain on your be­half. I could see in your eyes the pain of be­ing aban­doned by those you held dear to you and spent the bet­ter part of your life with.

It has now dawned on me my dear friend that our celebri­ties are never there for each other. The in­dus­try is a dog-eat-dog kind of sce­nario. You only mat­ter when you are up there.

When things fall apart there is no one to hold your hand. Ac­tu­ally, you are ridiculed and mocked. More of­ten than not by the same peo­ple who will be­fall the same fate.

I re­mem­ber a few years ago I went to visit a celebrity who was ter­mi­nally ill and I was in the car with other celebri­ties. Granted, they were go­ing to show sup­port but boy the way they were di­ag­nos­ing him and laugh­ing at his mis­for­tune.

The same peo­ple who were sup­posed to be there giv­ing love and sup­port are go­ing to be the same ones spread­ing ru­mours about some­thing they knew noth­ing about.

They are the same ones who will in­sist that they must be on the pro­gramme to tell the world how they loved you.

Some you would swear are try­ing to re­vive their trou­bled ca­reers.

Lov­ing some­one is not look­ing good at their fu­neral and bring­ing a bucket of cakes and a do­na­tion.

Lov­ing some­one is be­ing there for them in their time of need. It’s giv­ing them sup­port while they are alive.

It’s hold­ing their hand while they get in­jected with a so­lu­tion that will de­ter­mine whether they live or die.

It’s go­ing to the pharmacy to col­lect their med­i­ca­tion for them. It’s wip­ing their tears when they cry out of pain.

As you told me Iko, on the day you got di­ag­nosed, you went to a woman you re­garded as your clos­est and best friend (a govern­ment of­fi­cial, who as you said, used you to her own ben­e­fit and dis­re­garded you in your time of need) to share your mis­for­tune.

She left you out­side her apart­ment build­ing the whole night – you had to sleep in your car.

You never shared the news with her, she found out sev­eral months later. She promised to help but the help never came.

I know you let go of the bit­ter­ness…

I know you are at peace and I know you don’t want any­one to come and pre­tend they were there and look good to the pub­lic at the ex­pense of your mis­ery.

My heart bleeds for you Iko but I have learnt the big­gest les­son ever and I hope many will learn from your life and ex­pe­ri­ences.

I was not al­ways avail­able for you my friend Iko, but I did what I knew best. I held your hand. I cried with you. I felt your pain.

I felt your dis­ap­point­ment at the peo­ple you re­garded as friends. But I’m happy know­ing that it was not a lonely jour­ney for you. Your fam­ily was there with you. Your friend Manaka was there with you. You are blessed to have died in your mother’s arms, much as no par­ent de­serves to bury their child. I know that you are at peace with the love and sup­port that you got.

I have the ut­most re­spect for Manaka as she took you in at your most vul­ner­a­ble pe­riod in your life.You made peace with life and I know you are at peace with your­self.

Rest my Friend… Un­til we meet again… I love you and for­ever will. Yours truly… Lebo Keswa

Iko Mash

Lebo Keswa

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