And one last tiny request —- please share it
My close friends and I congregate around whatsapp messaging quite often because most of them live out of the country so keeping tabs on one another is an endeavor requiring more effort than before.
Over the years, I have noticed that the texture of our conversations have changed and without realizing it – adulthood crept up on us.
The carefree years of high school life (where the biggest problem was which love proposal to accept or reject) made way for bigger dilemmas involving whether to accept and live with the fact that our husbands have mistresses or simply pack up and get out of the stagnation caused by interminable love triangles.
We have chosen different paths, prioritized different things and now with the age of 30 looming ahead of us – we are all taking stock of what we did with the last decade of our lives and grappling with whether or not we made the right choices.
All I have been able to ascertain as I have reflected on where the years have gone and on what we did with our lives in that time frame is that we did with our lives the only thing anyone can do – we tried.
All of us tried.
Whether we failed or succeeded, at least we gave it all a shot and for better or worse the choices we made over the years have brought each one of us to where we are today.
We are just a bunch of tryers.
We have tried to follow our hearts, and where we lacked the courage to do so, we have followed the expectations of others.
We have rebelled against our families in the name of love, shacking up with men who never paid any bride price but went on to impregnate other women while we waited on them to go meet with our elders and set things right.
We have wasted years deserting our spouses only to reconcile with them before changing our minds and calling it quits or we have spent the years following our men across the globe – trying to make the reality of marriage and relationships tally with what we once fantasized it to be.
We have held on longer than we should and sometimes we have let go too soon but in all those things – we have tried.
We have made mistakes in some things and we have learnt from them but the older we grow the more afraid we are of making the wrong choices because it seems as though our chances of rectifying them become more limited with each passing year.
As we get to 30 we start to think, ‘if I don’t do this degree now, I might never get round to doing it at all’ or ‘if I don’t accept this marriage proposal now, I might never find someone else’ or ‘if I don’t have a child now, I might struggle having one later’.
It feels as though the clock ran out on us and suddenly we’re just trying to catch up with all the things we thought we’d have done and accomplished at 30.
Whether we choose our careers ahead of our love-life or chose love and familial duty over careers – we get to stop in our tracks now and check if the gamble paid of.
I may not be certain as to what the next decade of our lives will hold but all we can do is what we have been doing all along – all we can do is try.
Try to make the right choices and where we fail, we simply dust ourselves up and try again.
We will try to love the right people for the right reasons and at the right time and in the right way – and where we fail we will bruise our souls, break our hearts and grieve our spirits on our way to getting over them.
We will make tough choices and sacrifices concerning whether we will leave or stay; fight or reconcile; hold grudges or forgive.
We will just try to do the best we can with what we have wherever we will be. No more, no less. So to my girls…here’s to another decade of trying.
I learned to love you from afar. To watch your retreating back without shedding a tear. I learned to long for you from a distance, repressing the urge to chase madly after you.
Loving you made me weak before it could make me strong… it hurt me before it could heal me…and it broke me before it could make me whole.
I learned to love you without expectation – taking only what you were willing to give and offering only what you were willing to accept.
I have loved you in a language of goodbyes, through seasons of absence and the constant shadows of one farewell after another.
I have loved you defiantly – across vast spaces and time zones. I have loved you despite the wrongness of what felt right.
I have loved you through months of yawning silences and through sleep-deprived nights of Skype-calls…
I have loved you too long and too hard. I have loved you without making the effort to do so… and without you having to put in any hours to earn it.
But you are chained to the wind and where the wind goes – you will follow. I am chained to my dreams – and where they drive me I will go.
We are but two ships passing each other on the vast ocean of life… may you find a safe harbor in stormy seas and perchance we may sail on the same waters again.
But for now – farewell my love. As you would put it, “it’s been real”.
And as I would put it, “may you find what you seek”.
There is only so much one can do to prepare for life, for the future, for tomorrow and for the unknown – at the end of the day, what will be will be. As the year draws to an end, I am sure a lot of us will be taking stock of what we achieved, what we dismally failed in and what we let slip through our fingers.
Here are some of the things I gleaned over the course of the year and perhaps you will be happy to share a few thoughts of your own about 2012.
Letting go: I learned that you can let go of people no matter how long they have been in your life. I learned that it will hurt and that you will miss them from time to time but it gets easier to keep walking once you’ve chosen what path you’re going to take.
The value of selfishness: I learned that selfishness can be a valuable commodity because it places your needs at the center and enables you to decide what’s best for yourself without being clouded by the pressures and expectations of others. I learned that it is okay to love people but not always wise to need them because much of life is a solitary affair.
You heal: I learned that getting hurt is awful but we heal regardless of the amount of emotional damage that has been inflicted on us. As my best friend Talema Moyo once put it, “So what if you get hurt? It won’t hurt forever. You will heal”.
You choose your suffering: I learned that we always have a choice and that whenever we insist that we have none – it is only because we want to avoid having to make decisions. I learned that we get to choose what we are willing to suffer, how long we are willing to suffer and for whom we are prepared to suffer. Suffering is a choice and we all make it either by staying in bad situations or getting ourselves into bad situations.
Forgive yourself: I learned that there is wisdom in forgiving oneself. We will not always get it right but we have to come to a point where we stop flogging ourselves for our mistakes and more importantly to stop allowing people to use our past misdeeds as a reference point in judging us – our worth is not determined by our errors.
Acceptance: I learned that there are things I can’t change and specifically that there are people I cannot change. I either have to accept them as they are or keep them out of my life because people change only when they want to and you cannot compel anyone to be what you want them to be.
People matter: I learned that people matter and how you relate with them has a bearing on the quality of life you will enjoy. I learned that if you cannot help a person, at least make sure that you do not harm them and that if someone loves you treat them kindly especially if you don’t reciprocate.
Cherish those who’ll mourn you: I learned that it is important to know the people who cherish you. Imagine you died today, who would mourn your loss and who would grieve for you? Whose world would irrevocably come crushing down? Know those people who would miss you if you fell off the surface of the planet and cherish them throughout the coming year because some of the people you’re obsessing over right now won’t even care enough to show up at your funeral.
Take care of yourself: Some years back someone I love very much was going away and his last words to me before he left were, ‘take care of yourself’. It made me wonder, who else would take care of me anyway – it seemed like an odd thing for him to say. But in 2013, I hope you take care of yourself… whatever taking care of yourself means to you. Whether it’s getting out of a bad marriage or making the choice to marry someone; whether it’s moving out of a comfort zone and taking a leap of faith; whether its making tough choices that will change the course of your life forever or deciding to trust in someone you want to share your life with – take care of yourself.
May you find what you seek: Finally, I learned the value of knowing what I want – really want. I hope in 2013 you find what you seek. The problem is so many of us don’t know what we want and wouldn’t be able to recognize it even if we received it. Sometimes we do know what we want but are scared to admit it to ourselves or to others because we are not confident that we can attain it. As the year ends, I hope you find what you seek in the coming one.
They say ‘man plans and God laughs’ because you just never know what tomorrow will bring. In fact you don’t even have a guarantee that your life will be what you expect an hour from now or even at the end of the day because anything can happen – and it often does. To quote from Oliver Mtukudzi, ‘parinonyura remangwana renezwaro’ loosely translated to mean, ‘as one day ends, another will unfold bringing with it God-knows-what’.
Whatever is your fate in 2013; face it because what will be will be.
I remarked the other day to some of my friends that we had to take a moment and toast all the men who had walked into our lives, walked all over us, trampled upon our hearts and then walked out on us.
I said each one of them had forced us to seek solace in our work, in the dreams we pursued and in the aspirations that we once might have chosen to forfeit.
If you’ve ever had someone rip out your heart, tear out your guts, shred your confidence and make you feel like you were walking around with excrement stuffed in your bra – then you are a good candidate for dream chasing.
Dream chasers are people whose dreams are better than the reality of their lives.
The harder your life is, the more susceptible you are to being a dreamer – fantasizing about how your life could be different and what you could do to make it so.
And sometimes we have idyllic childhoods, perfect family backgrounds and wonderful educational opportunities but then we end up falling in love with the wrong person.
And the wrong person is not necessarily some heartless devil but sometimes it is someone who is too selfish to give you up even when they know they cannot reciprocate the love you feel for them.
Someone once said that we are never as defenceless against suffering as when we love.
When you love someone you can’t defend yourself from them – you are entirely at their mercy. The tragedy is that too many people have little mercy to spare.
Show some mercy.
We often can’t help who we love and oftentimes it is hard to even explain why we love that particular person when there are perhaps other ‘better’ candidates who want to avail themselves to us.
The most fragile person is a person who’s in love and the strongest person alive is the person who’s loved – who holds in their palm the precious heart of another.
And the most dangerous person in the world is the one who knows they are loved but doesn’t give a damn about it.
When we love we are defenceless against suffering at the hands of the person upon whom we have bestowed our affections.
And one of the coping mechanisms of broken-hearted people, is to redirect their focus to other things that they have some semblance of control over – things they can exert their will upon.
Confronted with the merciless pain inflicted by someone that doesn’t love you anymore or that never loved you at all and finding yourself incapable of extricating your heart from them – you pour yourself into something else that can distract you.
And for some of the women I know, and myself as well – career and school and our talents and our ambitions and our dreams have afforded us the opportunity to rise again and move past the hurts we’ve suffered.
Career advancement, academic triumph, opportunities to travel and exploit our potential and talents may not undo the damage caused but they have inevitably made the pain count for something.
If indeed we had to suffer, then at least the product of that suffering should become something that will matter to us long after our wounds have healed.
So I said to some of my friends – as they celebrated the attainment of new milestones in their careers, in their academic pursuits and in opportunities to travel and explore the world – let’s pause and drink to the men whose cruelties pushed us to our limits, forced us out of our comfort zones and brought us face to face with our own raw potential.
Let’s say an ode to those who broke us because in picking up the pieces – we were able to build something meaningful out of the emotional devastation of loving the wrong person at the wrong time for the wrong reasons.
My dear sister, since you are so intent on dating a married man, I hope the sex is good because that is all you will have to cherish when the whole thing inevitably blows up in your face.
I won’t waste my breath trying to make you see reason because before making the choice to date that married man; you reasoned with yourself and it appears to have had little effect on you.
I know you’re going to remind me (as you no doubt remind yourself repeatedly) that he asked you out, that he sought you out and it’s not your fault that he came chasing after you.
Of course it’s not your fault.
You are not to blame when a tout cat whistles at you or a drunk grabs a huge chunk of your buttocks or a mad man dives at your bosom and squeezes your boobs.
You are not to blame when a married man makes a pass at you.
But you are to blame when you entertain him, when you decide he’s yours for the taking and when you make the choice to become a third wheel.
Anyway, I hope you get your heart broken sooner rather than later, while you’re still young enough to find someone unattached whom you can build a future with.
I know some women will go on for years, even decades, being strung along by a married man who has no intention of making an ‘honest’ woman out of her.
I hope that is not your fate, I would hate for you to waste the best years of your life being a side dish to someone’s main meal.
I am not going to ask whether he’s going to leave his wife for you or not — naivety is a luxury I can ill afford and in fact, I hope he never does.
I imagine if he did leave his wife for you, he’d then marry you and what good would that do you considering that you’ll have tied yourself to a philandering man?
That is hardly a prize worth holding your breath for and I certainly hope his wife (who seems to tolerate and indulge him) can hold on to him so that you’re spared the grief of suffering what she is suffering.
I won’t remind you how unfair you are being to that man’s wife or to his children because you’re not a fool and you already know the impact your unbridled horniness is having on that man’s marriage.
I am certain that you will not let a small matter like the fact that another woman’s marriage is crumbling get in the way of your next earth-shattering orgasm in the arms of your married lover.
You have always been headstrong and I am embarrassed to admit that while I disapprove of your behaviour, I’d still stand at your side when they haul your unrepentant backside before the courts and sue you for knowingly dating a married man.
But I draw the line when it comes to changing your soiled underwear after you’ve contracted some disease and are wasting away because you know how I feel about consequences — we must each face the consequences of our actions.
Can I recommend at this point that you put a little money aside (don’t spend it all on those riotous Dubai shopping sprees) to facilitate a good medical aid because you’re going to need it.
Lastly, dear sister, I hope you grow up fast and the only way people grow up fast is through pain.
So I hope that someone (preferably that married man) hurts you and gives you no option but to grow because you do not seem inclined to do so willingly.
Perhaps something good may yet come of this sordid affair if at the end of it all, you get hurt enough to finally change for the better and grow the hell up.
People who don’t know me well often think I am reckless, those who know me better think I’m courageous and those who really know me; have long resigned themselves to the fact that I will always do precisely what I want to do.
And sometimes the precise thing that I want to do also happens to be the wrong thing to do so my close friends usually express their disapproval, give me warnings and then dutifully step aside because when all is said and done – Delta is going to do what Delta wants to do.
My life is almost always entirely my own fault, whatever goes right and whatever goes wrong can be traced back to a decision I made or neglected to make.
But I am neither courageous nor particularly reckless; I am just someone who lives life by making a risk assessment that I have dubbed ‘the worst case scenario’.
I think I started to live that way after I lost my parents and realized that I would have to largely depend on myself to figure out what to do in times of crisis, confusion or uncertainty.
The end result has been a life lived full of errors, trailed by the nasty consequences of bad choices for which no one can take the blame except myself and invaluable lessons for which no one can take credit except myself.
In any event, I taught myself to never do anything whose price I am unprepared or unwilling or incapable of paying.
If I am going to do something I know is wrong, I ask myself ‘what is the worst possible outcome of this decision’, I ask myself ‘what is the worst thing that can happen if I decide to do this very wrong thing that I so badly want to do’.
If I figure out what the very worst thing that can happen is, then I ask myself, ‘if this worst thing possible happened, would I be able to live with it?’
If my answer is yes, then I will go ahead and do the thing that I know is wrong that I so badly want to do.
If I know that I cannot afford to pay the price for an action because the ‘worst case scenario’ is something I am unable to absorb; then I just quit and let the thing pass.
In other words, I live my life by pushing the moral envelope; by taking every choice to its extremities and avoiding the murky shades of grey.
I must be as aware of the wrong choices that I make as I am of the right ones and as accountable for the bad decisions I take as I am for the good ones.
If you’re unprepared to face the consequences of a given course of action – then don’t pursue it.
Someone once noted that the right thing to do and the hard thing to do are often one and the same.
Congratulations on whatever good choices you’ve made in your life and big up to you for the right decisions you’ve opted for along the way… but for the wrong choices and for the bad decisions; I hope you take full responsibility – there are far too many people who simply refuse to acknowledge their mess.
Don’t be one of them. You don’t own your life until you ‘own’ your mistakes.
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “It is wrong and immoral to seek to escape the consequences of one’s acts”.
This article first appeared in and was written for the Sunday News – a weekly newspaper based in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
Feelings are fragile things; they get hurt even when they’re not supposed to. Even when the brain explains to them why they shouldn’t be hurt by a certain action or statement — they still curl up in pain and demand that some reparation be made.
Feelings are fragile things and they should never be left lying around for some random person to carelessly trip over them with some reckless word or deed.
Of course hurt feelings heal but they heal only to a certain extent, in fact, they heal only to the extent that you can guarantee that the same harm will not be inflicted again.
So when someone says sorry the brain has to convince our feelings that the apology is sincere and that the harm will not be repeated in future and that the remorse is genuine so that the emotional pain can subside.
But if you live with someone who never apologises for hurting your feelings, you begin to nurse a reservoir of pain and build a wall around your emotions with layers upon layers of resentment because feelings are fragile things.
I think the only thing worse than a person who never apologises when they’ve hurt your feelings is a person who apologises but doesn’t change his/her behaviour.
It is the apology without repentance that wounds the heart because it says that your feelings are inconsequential.
And many married women live with this kind of emotional torment every single day — pasting smiles on their faces to mask festering wounds in their souls.
I know this is true because of the many married men who have small houses and have no intention whatsoever of ever being faithful to their wives or even bothering to respect their marriage.
Feelings are fragile things and too many women live with men who just don’t care about the hurt they cause.
If the prevalence of small houses has taught us nothing, it has at the very least demonstrated that there is an abundance of unrepentant husbands prowling our streets and by extension there are too many wounded wives living in despair.
When someone hurts you, I think there are usually two options — you either fight or flee but when you’re married fleeing is a very frowned upon course of action and fighting is never recommended (because you have a physical disadvantage in that regard).
So married women are told to hold their tongue when their feelings are hurt, apparently keeping silent is the best foolproof marital elixir.
I doubt that pretending something doesn’t hurt and bottling up one’s feelings makes things better but I am open to being persuaded (since I don’t know it all) as to how having someone hurt your feelings and suffering in silence is supposed to make things better.
How does anyone decide that it’s okay for someone to trample all over your feelings, constantly humiliate you and be an endless source of pain to you?
There are many things I find to be outrageous but none of them is as outrageous as the idea that our lives are not within the ambit of our own control.
When you are good at something, its easy to take it for granted. It’s easy because we’ve been taught that only the things we work hard at deserve any acknowledgement.
The things we do easily – that come almost naturally to us – happen to be the things we tell ourselves are not a big deal.
For me, writing is one of those things. It’s easy to do and it’s enjoyable and it comes almost effortlessly. I get embarrassed when I receive praise for it because I feel like a fraud.
In fact in my more self-deprecating moments, I tell myself that anyone can do what I do because… well… what I do is easy.
So easy in fact that if I stopped doing it, it wouldn’t be such a loss to anyone because it’s not like I was doing anything special. I was just writing about stuff. Anyone can do that, right?
Well, I am discovering (rather belatedly) that I do have a talent and that writing is that talent and that it is a big deal regardless of the ease with which it comes to me.
A while ago, I was going through a really rough patch and one of the things I wanted to do was quit writing and blogging. I figured no one would miss it anyway.
I didn’t think it would make any difference. I didn’t think it would register with anyone. Who would really notice or care about the absence of a column in a weekly or the staleness of an un-updated blog… or the silence of an authorial voice?
One of the reasons why the decision to quit writing and blogging seemed so simple was that I didn’t really feel like what I did was that important, or that it really mattered or made a difference to anyone.
If I stopped writing, I wouldn’t be hurting anyone because (after all) it wasn’t like my writing was actually helping anyone.
But the truth is when you are good at something you have a duty to do it to the best of your ability. We never know who we’re helping when we just choose to be the best version of ourselves we can be – and being the best often starts with making the most of our God-given talents.
In subtle ways, you make a difference. Even when you’re not aware of who you’re helping or whose life you’re impacting.
Be the best you can be. You owe the world that much and you owe yourself no less.
My father was big on lessons, in fact he loved passing on his wisdom so much that he took to holding annual general meetings with his children.
Back then, I used to find the yearly ritual rather tedious because apart from giving us life lessons, he would also take the time to do an inspection of our general conduct over the course of the year and chide those of us who had displeased him.
As you may have guessed my name featured quite frequently and rather prominently in this exercise of identifying behavioural misconduct.
It always made me squirm in my seat and my siblings would all wear those appropriate looks of mild shock (as if they were hearing of my misdemeanours for the first time).
My father has been gone for 11 years now and in that time, I have found in his words the strength and courage to overcome, the resolve to work hard and endure but more importantly the audacity to follow my own heart.
And I tell you, following your own heart is an audacious thing to do particularly in a world where the rules are already laid down and conformity is the norm.
Of all the things my father taught me, the one lesson I learned well is that I should never stay in debt and that I should never forget anyone that I am indebted to.
He insisted that one should repay every single kindness every chance they get.
My father was a man who believed that the world owes us nothing and that people in general were not necessarily obligated to go out of their way to show us kindness.
He was a man who did not like debts – financial, material or moral. If you owed a debt financially or materially you had to pay it off once and be done with it.
But if you owed someone a moral debt for a kindness shown, then he insisted that you never forget and that you repay the same kindness over and over every chance you got.
He demanded that the act of kindness shown to you by that one person should become the enduring reference point in any future dealings you had with the person.
He used to irritatingly emphasize that you could never fully repay a moral debt because you can’t place a monetary value on kindness and that we all lived eternally indebted to those who’d shown us kindness when we needed it most.
So the conclusion of the matter is don’t stay in (financial) debt but stay (morally) indebted. Heaven knows, whatever you’ve accomplished – you couldn’t have done it without a little help.