REPUBLISHED: Love and Loss – the heart’s siamese twins

[First published on 24 February 2010…..for all those we loved and let slip through our fingers]

I’ve written to you every day since you left. Formulating sentences in my head and stringing together words that hopelessly fail to capture the depth of what I feel.

I have written to you every day since you left. My mind tiring of the constant need to run away from the thoughts of you that haunt me – my heart tiring of the exhausting enterprise of trying to bury beneath layers of nonchalance what I feel for you.

I’ve written every day since you left. Failing to hold back the miserable tears that take over from where speech fails – a language that only an aching heart can speak. Tears – how eloquent they are and how I welcome them.

Welcome the relief they bring, welcome their silence as they course down my face for it would not do to let the world see my misery – for it is private grief no one can share and a sorrow I cannot seem to escape.

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….our lives are contradictions: how loss and love can be two sides of the same coin and how we can stay whole even when our hearts break

I write to you every day since you left. In a language of sighs and when the mask I wear slips off to reveal how truly wretched I feel – I feign a headache, plug silent earphones to my ears and hope to keep the curious eyes and inquiring glances away from me.

I write to you every day since you left. Crossing roads where we once stood, my mind refusing to forget, even the most mundane of things.

How perverse is the heart, to cling so tenaciously to every memory, to guard so jealously every feature of your face and store so faithfully every dimpled smile that lined it and every frown that marred it.

I write to you every day since you left. Write – because I cannot bring myself to speak of you – cannot bring myself to get the words past this stubborn lump that permanently lodges in my throat… I cannot think your name without this flicker of pain flashing across my heart and I cannot bring myself to speak of you for the tears threaten to overwhelm me. So I write to you every day.

I write of trivial things. To tell you of a bad day at work, with the shadow of your absence hanging over me, to tell you of a headache that I nurse from morning till night from the constant effort of trying to outrun my misery.

I write to you every day since you left. To tell you of my long nights, how I still wake up in the wee hours of the night, in the room that we once lay trying to recapture the scent of you; knowing there’s no trace of you that remains – yet that night is faithfully preserved in my thoughts carefully stored in my heart.

I write to you in my head –every day since you left. But the words freeze at my finger tips and my hand refuses to meet the keyboard… so I know you got none of the letters I wrote.

Now as I lay in that room where we once lay; the wind howling outside my window – I allow myself to weep. To grieve for you as I have refused to do; for to cry would be to acknowledge that I am hurt – that the pain is real and not a figment of my imagination.

I cry now, because the yawning silence between us has not diminished what I feel; I cry because that’s what I do when I run out of options – when my mind has tired itself and my heart has grown weary of the constant ache.

Tears are an ugly thing. So pitiable, they are a capitulation – an acceptance that life has beaten me once again, that I must accept defeat and that I must embrace my loss.

I write to you every day since you left. I write of places I avoid because they remind me of you – no more spicy pies from that Oriental deli you loved and I write of the pathetic lurch in my chest that I can’t stop every time I come across the car you once drove, my heart squeezing in pain at the maroon sight of it.

I write to you every day since you left. My feet hurrying to work each morning in a vain attempt to outrace my thoughts – how I drown myself in work, trying to marshal my thoughts to coherence and gather my scattered emotions into a mask of composure.

I write to you every day since you left. I write to tell you of my longing, of my yearning and of my impossible love for you.

Impossible because you are too far – yet I would follow you to the ends of the earth… my heart leading me to find you wherever you are.

Impossible because you were too late or I was too hasty.

Impossible because our paths crossed when I had made promises I had naively thought I could keep – yet I would give it all up; my own happiness taking precedence over any sense of duty. I never was one who could live a lie in order to conform.

I write to you every day since you left. To tell you of little sorrows – of a cellphone that got stolen, of how my only regret was that your precious numbers vanished into the void of an automated voice telling me the number I’m dialing is not reachable.

I write to you every day since you left. Sorting through the clothes I wore when I was with you, the bitter-sweetness of remembrance and how I smile against my will as my mind relives moments that only you could have given to me – moments preserved by a mind that refuses to forget you and a heart that refuses to stop loving you.

I write to you today because the words would not remain sealed within the confines of my mind. Because for once, the fingers were willing to let the emotions come alive on the computer screen – to give shape to the feelings that elude me.

I write at last – fearing that I may drown myself in the attempt to drown what I feel and that I may lose myself in the attempt to forget you.

So I go through the motions – laughing on cue and pasting a smile on my face; I fool the world but I do not fool myself.

I miss you. I miss you as if —-

As if I could not face the next hour without you – and yet I find I do.

As if I could not face one more day without you – and yet I find I do.

As if I could not go through one more night without you – and yet I find I do.

As if I could not endure one more week without you – and yet I find I do.

As if I could not survive one month without you – and yet I find that I almost have.

As if I could not make it till the end of the year without you – and yet I suspect I shall.

I write to tell you of these things – of the irony of life: how life has the audacity to go on despite our pain. How the sun has the temerity to keep shining despite our gloom and how the birds have the gall to sing in spite of our personal grief and oh, the brutality of it – how the flowers dare to bloom while our hearts wilt.

I write to you every day. To ask how you are, to tell you that I wonder if you think of me as much as I think of you. I write to ask whether you still remember me at all or if in travelling, you have had the fortune to meet new faces and the luxury to forget old ones?

I write to you every day. To ask you whether the ache in my heart resonates with yours? Or whether you have perfected the art of insulating your heart from the inconvenient tangling of emotions?

I write to you every day. To ask you if your mind ever strays to me – if you ever allow your fingers to hover over the keys thinking you might want to write something to me.

I write to you every day since you left. To wonder what you’re doing, to wonder whether you’re happy, well? To wonder every other minute whether you’re smiling, laughing, talking, sleeping or walking. I write to tell you that I hope you are happy, that I hope you are loved, embraced and accepted – that you are treated with kindness because someone as precious as you deserves no less.

I write to you every day since you left. To tell you that I hope those who meet you recognize you for the special soul you are and that one day as you unpack your suitcase, from yet another journey – you may find the heart you unwittingly packed from Africa – my heart.

There was a man called Paul

I started crying as we drove out of Polokwane, just as we turned into the N1 Highway heading to Johannesburg. My tears stung my eyelids and rather than easing, the pain I felt only intensified. The heater was on full blast to ward off the morning chill, as we cautiously drove into the 4am mist.

I hadn’t meant to cry. But once I started, I couldn’t stop. I tried to swallow the sobs, imperceptibly increasing the volume on the car radio and stiffly stared outside my window to conceal my weeping. Then it came. Waves of grief crashing down, an avalanche of memories, a collusion of regrets and a total collapse of composure. I cried so hard, thinking that perhaps crying as hard as I could might, perhaps, bring me relief.

I was heaving, gasping and choking with pain as my alarmed boyfriend turned to ask what was wrong. And his asking made it worse. His asking made the hurt seep deeper because to answer him – I needed to find words and there were no words to share my anguish. So I shook my head. He didn’t ask again until he had slowed down, gotten out of the lane and parked on the side of the road. We were not going anywhere until he got some answers.

I was crying because my uncle was dead. He was dead and he was never coming back and he was never going to know that I was finally going to do that PhD that I told him of all those years ago. I felt stupid to be crying over this. To say to my boyfriend I was crying over an uncle who had died over a year ago. It was so random. I had been ambushed by reminiscence.


I don’t really remember what day it was but I was 14 and watching one of my favorite TV shows when my uncle Graham (now late) came home with a stranger. I remember feeling annoyed because the standard operating procedure when visitors showed up was to excuse the elders by vacating the living room – which meant abandoning the TV as well. I remember greeting the stranger with an ill-concealed sulk on my face and walking off in a huff. Uncle Graham sternly called me back.

“Don’t you know who this is?” he asked. A question I greatly detested whenever presented with a total stranger whom I was expected to know. I said I didn’t know who the stranger was and tried to look ashamed of being ignorant because it occurred to me the stranger was likely a relative. Relatives generally did not like to not be known….

Uncle Graham scolded me (as was the appropriate response in such situations) for professing ignorance of a relative. “But a big girl you, how can you not know our relatives? You must know relatives,” he said before explaining the intricacies of the kinship we shared with this stranger. I couldn’t follow it because it took on the usual confusing litany that most convoluted family trees become when introductions have to be made – he is the what-what of so-and-so’s cousin’s uncle’s granny’s wife’s brother’s niece who is the sister to the wife of the nephew of the great-grandmother from our father’s side…..

That was the first day I met Paul Mambo, the first time I laid eyes on him. Until five years later, when I accompanied a friend to the Chronicle to place an advert. Whilst we waited in that long queue, I remembered that the man my uncle Graham once came home with worked in this building. And I don’t even know how I remembered. But I did.

Bored with standing in the queue, I walked towards the guards who manned the stairs to the newsrooms. “I would like to see Paul Mambo please,” I said, fervently hoping I had got the last name right.

“Do you have an appointment?” asked the guard. I admitted that I didn’t have an appointment and was about to walk off then turned back to say hesitantly “But if you tell him that the daughter of Dazzman Ndou is here, he will want to see me”. I was lying, of course. Because I really had no way of knowing whether or not he would want to see me on account of whose daughter I was – especially since my father was long dead. For all I knew, he wouldn’t even remember who Dazzman was.

I don’t even know why I persisted, even to the point of lying. But I did.


‘Khali ihahara nga u khutedzeliwa’ – a pot simmers only when you keep the fire going.

These are the words that got me to the University of Zimbabwe and spurred me on an academic path that has brought me to where I am – here and now. The words of Paul Mambo who made time in his busy schedule to see the daughter of a long-dead and distant relative on some random day in August of 2003.

I had not known then that Paul Mambo was a man of many words – who when given the opportunity to talk – grasped the opportunity with much gusto and exploited it to the fullest. So that day, what should have been an awkward, random and very brief meet-and-greet turned into a life-changing encounter. I had completed my A’Levels and had passed. I had applied to the University of Zimbabwe but had not gotten any response and my friend who had applied at the same time as me had gotten her acceptance letter the week before and left for college.

I assumed that I had not been accepted and was now racking my brain trying to figure out my next move. I had settled for temporary teaching and the plan was to secure a post in a rural school (where living costs would be minimal so I could save up and become self-sufficient). That was the extent of my vision at that point. Get into temporary teaching, earn some money and take care of myself.

It was Paul Mambo who totally dismissed this plan, insisted that I go to the University and make a follow-up on my application in person because ‘khali ihahara nga u khutedzeliwa’ by which he meant, one cannot simply quit but one must show persistence.

More importantly, he evoked the memory of my late father to drive his point home “Your father would have wanted you to go to school, so you must go to school and learn,” he said. I left that building with a changed mindset, fired up and determined where before I had resigned myself to the fate of temporary teaching and drifting with the currents of life.

There was a discussion on my Twitter TL this evening about how there is no career guidance in Zimbabwe and I was reminded of this man whose intervention changed the trajectory of my life. He is gone now and I miss him. I have many stories written about him that I have been meaning to post on my blog. But they are all incomplete. Because I always collapse into tears, the pain and the loss feels so raw.

But I cried my way through this one. Because his story deserves to be told, even if it is only through the telling of my own.

I miss him almost daily. Headlines usually are a trigger – the absurd, the outrageous, the downright insulting – whatever the content, I think of him and of how if he were still alive; I would call him and ask him what he thinks of the events unfolding in our country and the world at large.

Grief is such a weird thing. It hibernates then resurfaces to fell you with such potency and immobilize you with renewed pain.

Whenever I trace how I got here….I start by remembering that there was a man called Paul. He saved me.

May he rest in peace.

Ni awele ngamulalo editor vhanga vha usuvhelela. Mbilu yanga ingasifholi, ndidodzula nditshi nituvhela.

#BeitbridgeMemoirs: Of memories, tears and healing

Last December I went home. Home is Beitbridge. I was received with tears and admonishes for having been gone too long.

I was surprised by the outpouring of emotion, the overwhelming love and mostly, I was surprised that my absence had been so keenly felt.

I will explain the source of my surprise.


I was surprised because I had never quite considered just how much I mattered to my father and my mother’s relatives.

When my parents died, I felt like my value and worth in the family structure had severely diminished. I grieved for my parents as if I were the only one who felt the blow of their passing on.

In fact, I somehow convinced myself that no one else could have been as shattered as I was and I reckoned that if no one else was as shattered as me – it meant their pain was not worth noting.

This was 15 years ago and it has taken me a long time to realize how wrong I was. Grief is a strange thing.

Sometimes it makes us so self-absorbed that we cannot see beyond our agony to acknowledge the pain of others.
I have an inclination towards asserting my individuality such that even in grieving; I sought to individualize the loss and refused to let it be a collective and shared grief.

This past Christmas I took the opportunity to visit my maternal and paternal relatives, some of them had last seen me at my parents’ funerals 15 years ago.

They were very emotional. And they kept talking about my parents. This outpouring of emotion made me aware for the first time of just how much my parents had been loved and cherished by others.

I felt ashamed that I had so disregarded their pain, discounted the depth of their own loss and failed to be a comfort to them even as I’d refused to draw comfort from them.

My maternal uncle’s eyes welled with tears and his voice choked with emotion when he saw me after so many years.

Virginia’s child,” he said, “Is this you? You, who have been gone this long? Without a call or even a random letter to let us know that you are well. I have missed you and not a day goes by that I don’t mention your name, to ask where you are and if you are okay. How could you go and not return, just go and not remember us. Don’t forget us who love you even if we may have no material things to offer you. I am your mother too, even if I am a man – I am your mother too.

I was moved and I was shamed. I had forgotten what it means to be ‘important’ to other people. When my parents died, I stopped expecting people to see me as important so that it wouldn’t hurt me if they neglected or forgot about me.

My maternal uncle was happy and upset at the same time. He adored my mother (his baby sister) and when he acquired a house, the largest and most prominently placed portrait in his living room was one of his late baby sister.

I have many siblings that I love dearly and I cannot begin to imagine how I would cope with losing a single one of them. I only realized now how much comfort and joy my maternal uncle derives from seeing me and from having some ‘tangible, living, breathing, walking and talking’ reminder of his late baby sister.

Yet I had discounted all this in my self-obsessed immersion in grief.

I remember how my maternal grandfather died three months after he buried my mother (his last born child and his favorite too).

My maternal grandmother insisted that he had died of a broken heart. I had been skeptical at the time. For my maternal grandfather had one leg, the other had been amputated below the knee and for many years he limped on an iron stump that was very heavy. My father later bought him an artificial leg and he was able to wear both shoes which he enjoyed immensely.

I recall thinking that a man who had lost a leg was very strong, so strong that surely he could not die from sadness. But over the years, I grew to learn that my grandfather had suffered many things but never had he buried his own child until my mother’s death.

Now that I am a parent, I can begin to fully appreciate the impact of my mother’s death and the lives that were irrevocably changed the day she died.

My maternal grandmother spoke of how my grandfather simply lost the will to live, withdrawing from everyone and often preferring to not converse with anyone. Before he died they took him to the hospital where a nurse scolded them for troubling an old man because she said his blood pressure was so high it probably meant the family was stressing him.

It was not stress, it was soul-destroying grief… the kind of grief known to a parent who has to bury their child.

How I could have possibly imagined that my pain was unique, so extraordinary and so much more important than the pain of my grandfather and other family members is beyond me. In retrospect, I was too immature to have known better.

While they grieved with me and for themselves… my family had to make time to grieve specially for me – for the daughter who had lost a mother. And yet I could not step outside of my own anguish long enough to grieve for them and to acknowledge their loss – the brother who lost a baby sister, the father who lost a daughter, the husband who lost his wife and so on.

For a long time I viewed the death of my parents as something that happened exclusively to me. I bore the grief of losing them as an individual and solitary process, a pain that I felt and suffered alone. I was wrong in imagining that mine was the only pain that mattered because they had been MY parents.

It seemed to me back then that no one else was as hurt as I was…like no one else ‘could be’ or even ‘should be’ as hurt as me. Over the years I have come to appreciate and understand that my relatives lost two people they loved and cherished the day my parents each died. It is such an obvious thing to me now.

But I was so blind to it back then. Trying to elevate my pain and suffering and loss and grief above that of others. Trying to assert a more exclusive claim to the burden of grief as if others did not feel it as keenly. It shames me now to recall how self-centered I was.

This past holiday I realized what a comfort I am to my relatives…seeing me and talking to me gave them so much comfort and eased their pain. And I had withheld such comfort by being so distant and straying so far from them. I was chastised.

I am not the only one who lost someone the day my parents died. My paternal uncles lost a big brother who’d vigilantly watched over them all their lives. The youngest of my uncles was expecting his first child who was born less than a month later. It must have been such a bittersweet year for him.

I reckon it must still hurt to know that his big brother did not live to see his first child. In any event, my paternal uncle went on to name his first child after my dad. Now when I visit him, every day the name of my father is mentioned when we call his namesake. My uncle also gave his son a Venda name – Aifheli – which means something doesn’t end.

I asked him about it once and he said, he meant that memories do not end. The memories we have and carry of people we’ve loved and lost, they do not fade or end – we do not forget them. I have no doubt he was thinking of my father mostly when he named his first child.

Looking back now, it feels like I never fully appreciated the depth and texture of my paternal uncle’s grief.

How could I when I had been so busy elevating my pain above that of everyone else. So selfish of me.

It didn’t occur to me that other people were as hurt as I was by the death of my parents. I failed to consider that my parents were deeply loved by others and that their death changed other people’s lives forever.

I was not the only one who loved my parents and who mourned their passing on. Even though it seemed like everyone just carried on with their lives despite my parents’ death.

The fact that they could carry on with their lives after such a terrible blow had been dealt seemed to suggest that perhaps they had forgotten because perhaps they had not been as deeply wounded or affected as I was.

But now I know we can move on without forgetting, we can move on in many aspects of our lives but in other aspects we can stay stuck, stay grieving, stay hurting and stay remembering.

I learnt a lot over the holidays spending time with my relatives from both sides. Maybe because I was emotionally ready to learn and maybe because I was met with such breathtakingly fierce love that I found myself wondering why I never noticed.

I think it is because I felt lost without my parents and didn’t know how to claim or locate a place for myself within the family without them.

But going home was a therapeutic thing. Lots of painful memories relived and lots of tears and healing was gained.

Every now and then I think it is important to just go home.

Home where people know you as the child of so and so…. where your status and position and education and accomplishments don’t change who you are in the eyes of those who watched you as you grew up.

And when we lose the ones we love, we must never hesitate to draw comfort and strength from the pool of people who share in that loss.

Some glimpse into my parents can be found here —>

 Remember me…or maybe not (written when I forgot the anniversary of my mother’s death in 2010)

My father – A man of emotions (written in fond and bemused memory of my dad)

The day Mmawe followed me (written as a nostalgic recollection of my mother’s protectiveness)

At my strongest – I am the mother of Simphiwe

There are many things I am uncertain of, even fearful about but the greatest of them is my fear of failing you, my child.

Simphiwe - your name means 'we have been given' - and boy, am I glad  I got blessed with you!

Simphiwe – your name means ‘we have been given’ – and boy, am I glad I got blessed with you!

It is inconceivable to me to ever give up, ever give in or ever lose hope regardless of life’s endless obstacles because I know whatever becomes of me, will have a huge impact in what will become of you.

I refuse to be the one that lets you down. Ever.

You are the balm that heals me, much faster and more effective than waiting for the ministration of time.

Ever since you were a baby, nothing soothed my spirit like holding you close, breathing in the sweet scent of you and feeling the familiar flood of emotion that swept away any other feeling save for my all-consuming love for you and with it, my determination to always be strong for you.

At my strongest, I am your mother.

This is the identity in which I am all but invincible for I would kill before I let myself fail you and I will always push myself to the limits and beyond in protecting your interests.

For you, I would brave anything, endure everything, sacrifice all things and soldier on whatever comes my way.

At my strongest, I am the mother of Simphiwe… and the converse is true because at my weakest, I am the mother of Simphiwe.

You are my weakness, my vulnerability, the chink in my armor and the reason I will always be prepared, willing and able to place myself between you and harm.

I thank God for you.

Interesting Pistorius timeline as offered by donmack

Interesting take….and well written…and I agree with his conclusion. Oscar Pistorius is guilty as sin!

Phils Musings

This offering clearly emanates from someone who believes that Oscar Pistorius did mean to kill Reeva Steenkamp. He lays out the timeline as he sees it.


Offered by donmack

Anyone who still believes OP is innocent has to believe that the following scenario is credible:

Reeva happily goes to bed having packed all her clothes neatly away in her bag, including her underwear and the top she was wearing, while leaving her jeans inside out at the bottom of the bed

OP wakes in the night and immediately puts his hands over his face. He takes them off long enough to glance over and notice Reeva’s legs under the duvet. He then puts his hands back over his face to get out of bed – pushing aside a duvet that is not actually on him

He walks around to Reeva’s side of the bed without either looking at her…

View original post 1,428 more words

I haven’t been as active in the gender activism sector as I used to be. Reading my blog yesterday in preparation of a presentation I need to make at a launch of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence; I was reminded again why it mattered so much to me and why I stopped engaging with it.

It hurts too much. It is emotionally taxing; too raw and so very hope-depleting. So to protect my heart; I started focusing on less emotive debates around socio-political and economic justice issues that I could engage with from a place of detachment. Reading my blog reminded me that I was not born for detachment, not designed to occupy the spaces of indifference as I have attempted to do in the last 2 years.

But it’s been a relief to not feel so burdened by it all. Caring hurts. So we stop caring to protect ourselves and in the process we lose ourselves by denying what we fervently believe in (like social justice) and by refusing to fight for it.

I don’t know when the emotional fatigue set in or when the layers of indifference began to wrap around me but I suspect it happened because I had too little emotional resources to expend on the hurts of other people when I had so much hurt of my own to deal with.

Yesterday I saw a piece of my soul reflected back at me in the words I’ve written to fight something important – social justice. It was beautiful but it was also painful to go back into those people’s lives and pain. I don’t know if I can go back to that space. And I suppose these last few weeks of 2013 will be best utilized in figuring that out.

Those end of year musings…. when you reflect and ask yourself those hard questions. What did I do with my life this year? And did it make a difference?

I haven’t been …

Sex is a currency….always has been, always will be

Several weeks ago, a media training and sensitization workshop afforded a group of journalists from all over the country a chance to interview and listen to the testimonies of sex workers.

The generality of society views sex workers with intense aversion and the stampede for the moral high ground each time the phrase ‘sex work’ or more commonly ‘prostitution’ is mentioned attests to this.

I have always had a problem with legislating morality because moral values and their enforcement can only be instantiated from a premise that assumes homogeneity among all members of society – and such an assumption is obviously unsound.

My socialization has largely leant itself to understanding the transactional nature of sex as an extension of the transactional nature of love.

Where love is not a premise for the transactional act of sex, some other agreed upon or implicit commodity may be considered an acceptable substitute for love such as marriage.


The sex work trade is hard to defend, emotions run high and recriminations fly hither and thither but I am writing in this instance to challenge the unfounded notion that sex is only permissible when it is transacted as an act of love and not through any other mutual and consensual agreement between the adults who engage in it.

Sex is a currency. Some people use it to buy love and affection or to sustain the same. Others use it to exchange the bodily fluids necessary to reproduce for noble and not-so-noble motives including forcing a man to marry them or confining a woman in the domestic sphere by turning her into a baby making machine.

Some people use it as leverage to control the purse strings of the men who lust after them and others use it to exercise control over the women who are financially dependent on them.

Some people use sex to express love and affection, others wield it as a weapon to subdue the women or men that they want to take advantage of.

From the time a young man learns to woo a young woman, he is made to believe that his quest is to find a transactional commodity that the young woman will find agreeable and terms upon which she will accept him as a suitable partner – that commodity tends to be material and that acceptance tends to be the availing of her body.

Generally, young women are taught to withhold their bodies until the young men offer a higher commodity to transact with – the offer of marriage.

Society insists that the only acceptable transactional arrangement to facilitate the enjoyment of sex is marriage and therefore it becomes the goal of every parent to preach abstinence to their daughter or to preach material gain to their son so that the pair can negotiate from a common premise in future.

To marry, the young man must have money and to get married the young woman must have something valuable to bargain with – her virginity (preferably) or her body.

It is not true that sex is only about love. Sometimes it is about pleasure.

At other times it is about comfort and companionship. At other times it is about procreation. And in a society where poverty is rife, sex can be about money, about the bread and butter issues, and about survival.

In a materialistic society, lying on one’s back can be about financial gain and a lavish lifestyle paid for through sex.

Tradition, religion, the law, rightness and wrongness and the moral code of a given society may prefer to couch sex in different ways depending on the ideal that each institution pursues but none of them should presume homogeneity.

Listening to the tales of those sex workers, I struggled with my prejudices, struggled to put myself in these women’s shoes until I gave up the attempt altogether.

I felt sympathy but not empathy because their lives and experiences were so far removed from my own that I was willing to consider myself quite unqualified to judge them or the choices they have made – but having heard their side of the story, I consider myself qualified to defend them.

There is nothing as unburdening as flatly turning down jury duty, refusing to be on the jury that sits to judge and condemn the lives of people in whose shoes we have not walked a mile let alone a centimeter. What qualifies you to judge? Is it your high moral code? Is it your Christianity or religious belief? Is it your traditional values or cultural norms? Is it your infallible sense of knowing right from wrong?

People qualify themselves to judge by stripping away any recognition of the humanity of sex workers, viewing them as vermin that should be exterminated at best or punished at the very least.

Sex workers are ordinary people; they are as ordinary as the clients they service. For every sex worker, there is an employer.

If what qualifies one to judge is a moral code, then why is this morality or self-righteous indignation not directed towards the root causes of sex work such as poverty, or why is it not directed at the clients who keep these women on the streets by making sex work a viable option, why is it not translated into positive action that can re-integrate these sex workers into society rather than increasing their vulnerability through societal ostracism.

If your own aversion to sex workers is influenced by religious beliefs, traditional values or an internalized societal standard of what is right or wrong, then you must remember that your religious beliefs are your own, the traditional values you choose to embrace are not compulsory for the next person and your idea of what is right or wrong is informed by your own lived experience – which is not universal.

If you can trace every sexual encounter you have ever had to some ‘noble’ transactional arrangement such as love or marriage, then good for you but in the real world, people have sex for many reasons and financial gain is one of them.

Sex work has often been viewed as a problem caused by women, and the solution has been to punish the women as if these sex workers have sex all by themselves and then proceed to pay themselves for it.

Rightly or wrongly – sex is a currency. It always has been and it always will be.


ps. I know there are male sex workers but in this case I just focused on the women.