As I prepare to leave for my studies; a lot of packing has had to be done and in sorting through my stuff and the files saved in my ancient 4 year old Acer P3 laptop (which I have since replaced twice over); I came across several articles that I wrote way back then. This one I wrote the day my sister, Shonisani Manavhela Ndou called me from South Africa for the first time in 5 years! Like many other Zimbabwean youth she had left for SA and simply disappeared… this is what I felt the day she called. I was 16 when she left and I was 22 the day she called!
Time, distance and, especially, the yawning silence between us has made us strangers.
Perhaps you will be sad when what you remember no longer tallies with what I have become.
Would it have been different if you had stayed – if time had frozen, preserving forever, the innocence of our childhood?
Would it have been different if we had had the sense to defy both, distance and time, by bridging the gap with words?
For words are everything. And silence is like the insidious cancer, that eats away at the core of even the warmest sisterhood.
So many things you did not witness, so many sorrows and tears shed in your absence, but then again so many triumphs, joys and miracles celebrated without you…Which words do I pick?
So many words I can choose from, but all I need to say is that I look forward to the day I will see you again, with the bittersweet mixture of delighted anticipation and anxious uncertainty.
Now nearly half a decade down the line, I hear the sound of your voice carried over the phone.
There’s an avalanche of memories; blinding flashes of fresh remembrance.
A single tear stings my eyelid.
A lump of pain grips my throat.
And I remember. Forgive me, my sister.
For remembrance presupposes that one had forgotten.
It is not human nature to remember unless one forgets. So I remember because I had forgotten.
Perhaps what I recall is not a faithful replica of you. For I would lie if I said otherwise. Like an aging book whose pages have yellowed, and frayed at the edges, so are my memories of you.
Has life led us through such different paths that they simply can not be reconciled?
Will we laugh and cry without shame or shake hands with the cool detachment of mere strangers?
Will there be an outpouring of our hearts, secrets revealed and deep personal pains shared or will we paste smiles on our faces, measure each other up, in the manner of rivals and strive to outdo one another in telling tales of brilliant success, boasting of how we conquered the world – single-handedly of course.
What is it I want to say? That would suffice as a summary of the past 5 years of my life?
There are no words, just so many tears. And I cannot be sure whether these are tears of joy or sadness, pain or gladness, a swirling of emotions that I can’t quite put my finger on.
It’s been a long, hard, winding, gruesome journey – for somewhere along the way I took so many wrong turns, made so many – in fact – too many mistakes.
It’s been too long, but that’s no excuse. You’ve stayed too far, but that also is not an excuse.
I only need to explain how it came to be that I should have forgotten you.
My sister. Where were you?
I should have written, you should have too. I should have called, so should you. But that hardly matters now.
I can only think of your return. I am afraid of who you have become. And I fear too, that you will find nothing of the girl I was, in the woman I have become. My sister.
Tell me, will we like each other or merely tolerate one another. Will we screech again in laughter or chuckle with the awkwardness of strangers forced to breathe the same air?