Feelings are fragile…

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.

The Hillary Example

Some years ago, the wife of an American President suffered the greatest humiliation any woman can publicly confront – her husband had had an affair, lied about it, got caught in the lie and she became, overnight, the object of pity.

Hillary Rodham Clinton: The 67th United States Secretary of State, serving in the administration of President Barack Obama.

Nothing is as devastating to any woman as learning that her husband is fooling around but I can only imagine how excruciatingly embarrassing the whole thing must have been for Hillary Clinton.

Any woman who’s been there knows what it feels like. To know that you’ve been made a fool out of is terrible but to know that other people know is unbearably humiliating.

To feel like everyone knows and to feel like they’re all laughing behind your back is mortifying enough – but think of a First Lady at the mercy of the media (especially one as liberal as the American one) and suffering the constant intrusive opinions of her society’s ‘freedom of expression’.

Everyone was saying whatever they wanted about her and talk-show hosts increased their ratings discussing Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. And Monica Lewinsky was the most talked about woman in the world; willing to expose the whole gory affair to make a quick buck while Bill Clinton was lynched by the press and the public because he was regarded as a repeat offender while Hillary was the (constantly) wronged wife.

Comedians like Chris Rock had a field day making fun of her in his Bigger & Blacker show. I remember Chris Rock remarking that Hillary should have learned to be good in bed. He said that Hillary was to blame for her husband having an affair because she never bothered to give him oral sex.

What the fuck can Hillary do? A lot of this shit is Hillary's fault...and she needs to suffer the consequences for her actions. That's right, she's the First Lady. She's supposed to be the first one on her knees to suck his dick! - Chris Rock

My point is; Hillary Clinton became an object of pity to some, a source of amusement to others and the world’s most discussed topic overnight.

People speculated about whether she’d leave her husband; and every time she stepped out in public by his side – some people thought she was pathetic.

I don’t know what has become of Monica Lewinsky except for the string of projects she started that all kind of flopped because of her notoriety at least according to online reports on the Lewinsky Scandal.

But this article is not about Monica Lewinsky it is about the other woman. It is about Hillary Clinton and what became of her.

She survived the scandal of a husband who made a fool of her; she survived the gossip, the taunts, the shame, the humiliation and the embarrassment of it all. She survived the headlines, the sensationalism, the tabloids, the talk and the cruel insensitivity with which the matter was handled by the rest of the world.

She survived and she did her best to protect her daughter from the worst of the blow-back.

Today Hillary Clinton is one of the most powerful women in the world; and Monica is the woman who’ll only be remembered for getting on her knees to give a blowjob to a former US President and by her own admission observed, "I'm well-known for something that isn't great to be well-known for."

Wherever she is – I wager that she doesn’t hold a candle to Hillary Clinton and that if I ever had to choose the fate of either of these women – I would rather be Hillary.

I’ll tell you why.

You can never control another person’s actions – including your spouse – but you always get to decide how to react.

You can never stop someone else from sleeping with anyone they choose to – even if the person they decide to start sleeping with happens to be your husband.

Calling the mistress names, stabbing her, insulting and fighting with her is not going to make her stop sleeping with your husband (especially if she’s thoroughly enjoying it!).

Feeling sorry for yourself, drinking pills, and attempting suicide and generally giving up on your life just because someone has decided to sleep around is really dumb.

If you really want to get even with the woman who’s ‘stolen’ your husband – you should really try making a raving success of your life; I’m told that is the greatest revenge.

The truth is you will not be able to control what your husband does or who he chooses to do it with and the truth is also that you cannot stop the other woman from sleeping with him, from wanting him and from enjoying having sex with him.

You’re absolutely powerless to influence what anyone else does – accept it.

But you have the power to live your own life; to chase your own dreams and reach for the stars.

You can become the best of the best.
You can survive.
You can get through whatever pain and anguish you’re suffering.
You can grow stronger; you can learn also to be happy all by yourself.
You can live, laugh, sing, dance and celebrate life.
You can pick up the pieces and change the narrative of your life.
You can be whoever and whatever you wish to be.

Your future depends on many things, but mostly on you.

So forget the ‘Monicas’ of this world and don’t give them the satisfaction of making you become a quitter and a failure in life.

No one should have that much power over your life – not a cheating husband and certainly not the woman who’s sleeping with him.

Parting shot: Anything may be betrayed, anyone may be forgiven, but not those who lack the courage of their own greatness. ~ Ayn Rand

As a rule the person found out in a betrayal of love holds, all the same, the superior position of the two. It is the betrayed one who is humiliated. – ADA LEVERSON, Love’s Shadow

…a heart of gold & an iron will

On one of my many road trips, I boarded a car with a stranger. She asked me for time and I obliged. Then she volunteered the information that she was a teacher and I volunteered nothing.

It was one of those stilted one-sided conversations where some stranger imposes dialogue when you’d rather have the company of your own thoughts.

But she was persistent and asked what I do; and my upbringing more than anything else compelled me to respond where I would have preferred to rudely ignore her and hope she takes the hint – I’m not interested in conversation.

A writer, I said. Knowing as soon as the words left my lips that it was the wrong thing to say because it seemed like the opening she needed to snow me under with a flurry of follow-up questions.

I really should have known better, considering my profession. Anyway, there I was sucked in by this eager, inquisitive and well meaning stranger.

I write stories, I said. Hoping the brevity of the answer would give her the hint – I wasn’t in the mood.
“Oh so do I,” she gushed. Managing with those four words to make it seem like we shared a unique bond and were as good as sorority sisters – much to my irritation.

There was no stopping her thereafter.

What kind of stories do you write? Then with resignation, I just told her – figuring if I tell her what she wants to know, she’ll probably get off my case, right? Wrong!

I write for the Sunday News, I am a journalist, I reluctantly shared. And piqued by curiosity she asked who my name was and barely able to suppress my rising irritation.

I muttered my name, Delta – I said. Pause. Blinding phone torch rudely shoved in my face and then a shrill scream drowning out the rest of my sentence….

“…Law Milayo Ndou!!! oh! It’s you! It’s you! I love your writing. Your column is my favorite…I read your columns every week and they are like my lifeline! Oh, I can’t believe it’s you!” she finished off my two names before supplying me with my surname as if to convince me and the other passengers that she was indeed affiliated to me.


Now, not only do I have to entertain her because she’s a huge fan of my writing – I actually have to enjoy it and paste that indulgent smile on my face while I think, ‘oh no. And Plumtree is a whole hour away.’

That is how I met, came to like and later on, genuinely admire Ethel Ncube – a woman I would describe as possessing a heart of gold and nerves of steel.

She is passionate, driven, articulate, resolute, radical and courageous – I see traces of myself here and there.

I recognize a kindred spirit and the fierceness of a character that refuses to bow to circumstance, tragedy or the tyranny of a status quo.

She laments corruption, passionately denouncing it and informing me that she is ready to name names, to give me dates and places and if need be to testify against people in high places abusing power and terrorizing the natives of Plumtree.

Then she decries the lack of ART (Anti-retroviral therapy) in Plumtree, she was a youth facilitator once and met with doctors at various workshops where they all queried why the only CD4 count machine was broken, why it could not be fixed, because the only personnel who could fix it belonged to the company that had been awarded the tender and how, that company happened to be in Harare – a good 540km away.

“See how they abuse and marginalize us!” She complained bitterly. “That’s why I advocate for federalism – our resources must remain here benefitting the locals, instead we have all the money being centralized and people suffering and dying.
Everyone who wants can write a project proposal basing it on the people of Bulilima and Mangwe knowing full well that we are worse off than any other region of this country.”

“Look at this Global Fund”, she rages, “they spent the money and then a few weeks before the evaluators were due to come they hastily hired us as youth facilitators and erected youth centers to impress the donors. They didn’t pay us on time and 6 months would go by without receiving our salaries or any explanation but the worst part was not being able to help these desperate young people suffering STIs and who were HIV positive. It’s really terrible I tell you. Why don’t you people write about this,” she fumed.

She charged that there was no room for silence in an atmosphere of rampant abuse of power and corruption.
“Take last week’s auction, the police looted everything and hid some of the tennis shoes in the nearby toilets – in broad daylight! I challenged them, how could I not? I hate corruption with every fiber of my being – so I asked them, how could you enforcers of the law be the ones to engage in such corrupt activities before our very eyes? Have you no shame I asked them before one of them foolishly threatened to have me arrested for “disturbing the peace” – what rubbish. I am married to a policeman; I know I was well within my rights to confront them.”

I listened to her…overwhelmed, angered and saddened that these people would probably never be brought to book palms would be greased along the way – possibly all the way to the courts.

Then somewhere along the way she asked me, “Can you read Shona?” I said I could and in response, she handed me her mobile phone and bade me to read an sms.

It read, “why did you never tell me that ….. is such a stud in bed? I really enjoyed myself the time when he came to Harare and I hope he comes soon because if he doesn’t nothing in this world will stop me from coming there myself since you’re failing to satisfy him you nagging bitch! +?*#@%^+?:/”

My shock and disgust must have been evident for she immediately told me, “There are many others, many like those, many worse than that. My husband’s newest girlfriend, more venomous than the last,” she adds calmly.

Then she shares, a tale of violence, of pain and of betrayal. Of waking up one day and learning that she had HIV; that she had in her own words “fallen in love with a lie”.

She said she wanted to do research in HIV…. She had pursued a degree in Psychology and had dropped out because her man had told her to – they were moving, relocating. She started a course in counseling and didn’t complete it – there were problems in the marriage.

Then she taught language at a local school and he followed her there one day, to kick her ribs in and leave her for dead.

This woman, how much more can she take and how much more can she survive?

“You know it is like, I am only 29 with two children but when you are raised in the cultural way; it is not acceptable to keep changing men. You have to stick to that one. You have no choice. But your writing, your column – it tells me there are options. That there is a choice, an alternative and another way; I read what other women say…I draw strength from them and slowly I believe that I too can break free,”.

I was humbled, embarassed and honored all at once that this woman – seemingly indestructible could choose me to be the rock she leans on.

I thought of her all night … thinking that she had a heart of gold and such an iron will…how resilient the human spirit.