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.

Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 1.03.29 PM

….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.

#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.

familia

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)

May I live as I believe


I woke up to a distant memory.

19 years ago an 11 year old staged a mutiny, rebelled against ritual and stood her ground against custom…. *sigh*

I’m making it sound more dramatic than it actually was.

Let me start again.

When I was young I went to boarding school for the better part of my Primary education and the family ritual was that we had to spend one holiday of each calendar year visiting my mother’s side of the family in Tshapfutshe and Tshaswingo, places that were remote and snuggled very close to South Africa.

Each year. Religiously. Without fail. Non-negotiably. We were packed into the car by my mother and transported to my maternal relatives.

I loved my mother’s side of the family but I did not like the discomfort of staying with them.

I adored my maternal grandparents but I couldn’t stand the fact that there was rarely a book to read and I would resort to picking up random scraps of paper in despair just to quench my thirst for the written word.

And my mother’s side of the family spoilt us rotten whenever they got the chance.

Goats slaughtered. Chickens and sheep too.

My maternal uncles would fall over each other parading their prized cattle before my grandmother insisting theirs was the fatter option to slaughter for the new arrivals who graced them one holiday per year.

My mother’s side of the family was full of fun, side-splitting family drama and one was guaranteed days of endless laughter, adventure and ‘royal treatment’.

But that holiday. When I was in Grade 6, I didn’t want to go.

I didn’t have a special reason for not wanting to go – I just didn’t want to go anywhere.

I wanted to stay at home in rural Siyoka, by the Makhado highway, close to the Jopembe hills and about 20 kilometres from Mazunga and approximately 80 kilometres before Beitbridge town.

This was home. It was where I wanted to be. I did not want to be anywhere else.

I was rather untactful in broaching the subject with my mother (something that the 30 year old me can now admit with the requisite winces and cringes).

I had interrupted my mother in the stream of her enthused speech about the pending holiday plans for Tshapfutshe… the clothes that needed to be packed, the date of departure and the estimated day of return as well as the things we could look forward to.

I had interrupted my mother midstream to mumble, “But I don’t want to go”.

Now I have to make something else clear.

These trips to my mother’s side of the family where ritualistic in more than one sense.

They were a ritual because we always went.

One holiday out of each calendar year we would be packed off.

But these trips also represented a more veiled struggle on the part of my mother who would begin negotiating with my father long before the holidays in order to get ‘clearance’ to ship us off.

And whenever we actually made the trips, it represented an immense triumph for my mother – she would have bargained her way into making the trips a reality and keep her family from complaining of how little they saw of us.

My father was stingy with us.

Not in a mean way. Just in a proprietorial ‘these-are-my-precious-kids-and-I-cant-really-trust-anyone-to-take-better-care-of-them sort of way.

It must have been annoying to all our relatives – both maternal and paternal – who wanted to have us over but had to contend with his ‘mother bear’ attitude.

Guarantees had to be made.

Guarantees that we would be safe while we were away. That someone would keep an eye on us at all times and that my father would be immediately informed if anything went wrong.

To understand this quirky behavior that my father exhibited you can read my blog on him titled “My Father – a man of emotions”.

Back to my mother.

So here I was. All 11 years of me. Interrupting my mother’s excited torrent of speech to say, “But I don’t want to go”.

She stopped and looked at me, “What did you say, Delta?”

And I looked at her and repeated a bit firmly, “I said I don’t want to go”.

I am not sure but I must have worn my expression.

My expression that said you can beat me up right now but I will keep saying exactly what I am saying and you can pack me up kicking and screaming to this holiday you’ve planned but I will keep reminding you that I said I don’t want to go.

The others were quiet. Looking at me like I was a troublemaker.

Looking at me like I would get all of them in trouble too.

My mother was Sotho, very light, with a light peppering of hair on a mole on her chin that was made more discernible by her light complexion and she had a fierce temper.

My mother’s anger was like spontaneous combustion when you tripped her up. Instantaneous. Lethal. And unbridled.

Her temper was made more fearsome by the fact that she was – on the surface of it – very accommodating, easy-going and warm until you got on her wrong side.

So here I was, 11 year old me saying I didn’t want to go and spend the holiday with her side of the family after all the trouble she had gone to with behind-the-scenes negotiations to make this trip happen.

I hadn’t meant to blurt it out.

But it slipped out. As a mumble. An ill-timed mumble that unfortunately coincided with her catching a breath in mid-speech.

I had said it and now I did not want to swallow it. Because I meant it.

And because the others were watching me.

And because I knew if she hit me I could take it.

And also because I had a niggling suspicion that if she hit me, my father would not be pleased that my mother was resorting to beatings just to get me to go on holiday.

My father would probably have said (rather gleefully and triumphantly I imagine) something like, “Leave her alone, if she doesn’t want to go let her stay”.

In any event that’s not how it went down.

Instead my mother gave me a penetrating stare as if to weigh the level of my determination by the look on my face.

Then she completely surprised me by saying, “Fine. If you don’t want to go, you are not going.”

Then she turned to face the others and kept talking, more enthusiastically now.

Painting vivid pictures of all the fun those who were going would have – placing emphasis on those who were going.

The conversation took a rather sour turn from there.

My mother spoke of how those who were going would naturally have to go into Beitbridge town and get new clothes.

Those who were going would naturally be gifted with chickens which they had permission to come back with and add to their existing flock.

Those who were going might even see my SA-based maternal uncles who would be coming down for Easter with lots of goodies just for them.

In fact, said my mother, those who were going should prepare a list of what goodies they wanted from South Africa so she would make sure that they were delivered.

And so it went. The subtle emotional blackmail. But I stood my ground.

Yes, it would have been nice to have all the benefits of going without actually having to go but I just wanted to stay home.

And so I stayed. And they left me. All of them. A whole holiday at the homestead by myself with no one except the help.

No one to play with. No one to talk to. Nothing.

That was when I wrote these lines of what was meant to be a poem;

We choose to stay when we can go
And sometimes we choose to go when we can stay
So I guess life is about choosing

I think I may have written a lot more than that but it escapes me now. Anyway.

That incident taught me something. The power of choosing.

If I could choose now, I would go.

I would go to make my mother happy had I known I would have her for such a short time in my life.

But what’s done is done.

I am very big on choices and on owning the consequences of those choices.

I have stayed in bad places because I did not have the courage to admit to myself that I had put myself in a bad situation.

And let me tell you something. Sometimes people are places.

They are places we create in our lives and stick to even when they’re so clearly wrong for us.

I have found that knowing I have the choice to go is what makes staying a delight.

There are places (read people) that I will never leave because they matter to me.

But then there are places (read people) I have come across and walked past.

Regardless of what others may have thought, regardless of what they will think and regardless of all the ‘fun’ they will have on their journey – I will always chart my own path.

I will go where I want to go.

I will love who I want to love.

I will leave whomever I want to leave (as others will choose to leave me too at one point or another).

I will be who I want to be.I will not apologize for this.

I will always be the girl who stays when others go or the one who goes when others stay for no other reason than that it is my choice.

As I turn 30, I remind myself to not inconvenience myself just to fall into the plans of others. I remind myself to live as I believe.

I am what I am.

Of all the things my mother got right (and there are many) - my brother Dalton is the best of them!

Of all the things my mother got right (and there are many) – my brother Dalton is the best of them!

Gratitude Memoirs #3: Beyond the call of friendship


I heard her the first time.

When she spoke softly and tried to gently nudge me awake.

I screwed my eyes slightly tighter, concentrating on keeping my face blank in the futile hope that she would relent and go away.

But instead, she raised her voice, prodded me more determinedly and starting peeling the blankets off my body – before I could restrain myself, my hand had instinctively shot out to counter her action and snatch back the bed covers – still with my eyes screwed shut.

She paused and I could feel her penetrating gaze.

She knew I was awake and now she also knew I did not want to wake up.

I am not sure now, but perhaps she paused more to rethink her strategy in light of the new information she had gleaned.

Because when she next spoke it was with that soft, common-sensical and cajoling tone of a negotiator who knows that their requests are quite reasonable.

“Vuka De, asambe uyegeza” she said in Ndebele [Wake up, you need to go and bath].

Giving up the pretense of sleep, I opened my eyes and made no attempt to mask the resentment I was feeling before responding churlishly, “Ah Dess, hamba wedwa” [You can go alone].

She wasn’t taken aback by the attitude, instead she laughed indulgently and said firmly that it was time to bath and she was going to help me and we should do it quickly before the bathrooms filled up with people.

And as she spoke the tears pricked at my eyes – self pity.

I was tired, I said.

Tired of moving and the pain that moving caused me.

She was not the one with an injured hip, she did not know what it felt like to try and get into those high tubs with my injured hip protesting any movement let alone the elevation required for me to all but jump into those damn Swinton Hall tubs.

She did not know what the shooting pain felt like as it exploded from my hip joint and coursed through my body in protest over any attempts at bending to scrub my feet.

She should leave me alone, I said.

But I have never known Destelia Monalisa Ngwenya to bite her tongue when what she had to say needed to be said or to shirk from a necessary task regardless of the attendant unpleasantness associated with carrying it out.

...for saving me from myself time after time - thank you mngane wami!

…for saving me from myself time after time – thank you mngane wami!


Destelia and I have been friends for over a decade now and in June of 2004, she spent a week bathing my 3-month pregnant self after I had been hit by a car and was unable to move owing to a hip injury that I sustained.

She would wake up in the morning, put up with my moods and my misdirected anger to help me to the bathrooms, half-lift me into the seemingly high tubs, let me bath the upper part of my body which I could reach without straining my hip and then take charge of the rest so that I wouldn’t have to bend or hurt myself in the attempt.

After the bath she would half-lift me out of the tub again, help me back to my room where the task of getting dressed often involved wearing my underwear last because again, the process of wearing underwear involved bending which had become such an excruciating exercise for me.

I remember one morning where I staged a one-woman mutiny and refused to wear my underwear at all.

I wasn’t going to go through that pain again. No. Not for all the words in the world.

I was going to just spend the day without any underwear because it hurt, hurt, hurt TOO much trying to put a pair on!

I remember her laughing, saying “De, you know you can’t go out without underwear”, and I asked why not? Who would know?

And besides I was done with hurting myself every time I had to move.

And wearing underwear required two simultaneous movements that combined to inevitably set my hip on fire – the act of bending and the act of lifting my legs one at a time.

She would stand there, cajoling, encouraging and reminding me that we needed to hurry up, because I still had to eat the porridge that she had prepared and then take my pain medication.

We had exams throughout that entire week and my friend was pulling double shifts to see me bathed, clothed, fed and then she would have to contend with trying to revise for her exams while playing nursemaid to me.

I know I said thank you to her countless times that week and over the years since then but it never feels like it is enough.

I was a sulky patient, wallowing in self-pity and wondering why all these things were happening to me.

First I get myself knocked up and then I get myself run over by a car just a day before my first year final exams at the University of Zimbabwe?

Why was all this happening? Where was God? Why did my parents have to die and leave me… (I really hate it when people play the ‘I-am-an-orphan’ card so it took some severe depression to get me to that point, lol).

I must have been hell to be around but Destelia was totally unfazed.

She kept showing up every morning to get me ready for days I didn’t even want to face anymore – days she all but bullied me into facing.

And usually, when all the bathing, dressing, eating and taking of pain meds was done – she’d text my male friends to let them know I was ready so that they could come and carry me off to whatever exam venue we would be writing from.

Sometimes it was my female friends who formed into teams and carried me from one point to the other – taking turns to rest and relieve each other of the weight that was me and my useless hip.

Among those who carried me to write exams that year was Falimehang and Nomsa (I can’t believe I forgot her surname and she used to speak Venda! But she was Polite Ndlovu’s girlfriend at the time, lol…hoping those clues help my former college mates to jog my memory); there was Jacob and Sean; and there was Mmeli and Yvonne.

I know I thanked them.

But I must do it again to remind myself of the good fortune I have met with in my life and to let them know that their kindness will always mean a lot to me.

For sacrifices that went above and beyond the call of friendship; I want to say thank you but words are not enough.

With gratitude to Destelia Monalisa Ngwenya – for being there and for saving me from myself more times than I care to count or recall.

Gratitude Memoirs #2: Here’s to life! (Guest Blog)


Written by Cheryl Khuphe
If someone at exactly this time last year had told me that I would spend my next birthday in Harare, I would have looked at them, furrowed my brows and told them to crawl back into whichever hole they came from.

That’s how mad the thought would have made me.

While I am definitely not attracted to easy – I like comfortable.

I was so comfortable in Bulawayo even high water would have cascaded with me to another part of Bulawayo.

...it was a tough 2013; but I learned courage

…it was a tough 2013; but I learned courage


Simply put I was not moving!

Until life happened. 3 days after my birthday, my work life changed. It felt like everything, I had ever known or held dear was dead.

In one day, I lost my innocence and realised that life could change in the blink of an eye, but sometimes even a blink is too long a wait.

In two days the faces in the office changed.

So there I was looking for my sanity, grappling at anything that would give meaning to whatever I was feeling, it was as if I were carrying a torchlight looking for a needle in the dark.

As I turn 26, young to some and old to some, I now know that sometimes we have to be uncomfortable to make life changing decisions.

Sometimes the rug needs to be pulled from under our feet for us to realise we were standing on a thin sheet of ice the whole time.

So it was during that week that I had a light bulb moment.

I realised that I could be comfortable but unhappy.

Does this mean happiness is in far off lands, God forbid!

Happiness is the state of your heart anywhere and anytime.

But my heart wasn’t really pumping in earnest; it was just pumping so that I could exist.

I had no new dreams and was simply immune to the ambition bug.

With no child, no love life, no business, no school I decided to grab life by the horns and move to Harare.

Of course I had to get a job first to make the move. I wonder how I must have looked like, checking in to the bus.

Multitudes of bags, teary eyed and continuously giving long hugs to my mother and brother but oh well, it’s not every day you realise I am leaving everything I know to everything I don’t know.

...I woke up one day and bade farewell to my mum, aunt and sisters...leaving everything familiar to face the unknown

…I woke up one day and bade farewell to my mum, aunt and sisters…leaving everything familiar to face the unknown


Months later, while I don’t have good days all the time, I don’t regret moving. Not because everyone says Harare will give me new opportunities but simply because I took the opportunity.

Simply because I folded item after item of clothing, neatly packed it, loaded my suitcases and presented myself to the City Link bus on a Saturday morning at 7.30am.

I don’t know what tomorrow holds but I know whatever challenges, obstacles and triumphs come my way, I will not shy away from the challenge.

I don’t have it all figured out but if I did then I wouldn’t need to wake up every morning.

I realise that I can’t have made the move, endured the uncertainty and made it through each day without the love and support of my family and my friends.

Since this is women’s month I will roll out the thank yous to the females that have been especially instrumental in the last 8 months.

I am a little apprehensive to do this in case I miss any names but it’s my birthday, forgive me!

Thanks to my mom (who loved me a whole 9 months before I took my first breath), my aunts (Sikhumbulani Mangena, Thabani Siziba, Thobekile Siziba, Medury Siziba, Noma Mangena, Leticia Siso) who never go a week without checking on me.

To my granny who keeps me grounded, my youngens Charlotte Khuphe, Charmaine Mhlophe, Shirley Khumbula and Tabita Dube who make me smile always and to my cousins Cindy Siso, Mpume Siso, Sandra Ndiweni, Khule Siso, one of these days we should all be in a room together mncwaaah.

For my older sisters from other mothers Mucha Ncube, Nhla and my mentors: Lucy Gimane and Karen Kelley who believe in me.

...my amazing mentor - Karen Kelly - thank you for believing in me!

…my amazing mentor – Karen Kelley – thank you for believing in me!


And to my gals: Chele Sidambe, Snqoe Ndlovu, Sile Mathe, Gracious Ndlovu Gumbo, Petronella Nyathi, Nothando Ndlovu, Buhle Maphosa, Nozie Mlalazi, Rorisang Tlou, Wendy Mutema, Snokuthaba Ndebele (lol Snowy), Claire Jones (haha), Sibongiseni Mthwazi, Tapiwa Malaba Ncube – I might be blowing my own horn but I know you will never think twice about picking up my calls.

You have been there through this challenging phase of my life.

While I didn’t really state it outright – my 25th was the hardest year I have ever had to endure!

Thank you God, for all these lovely ladies, in blessing – bless them indeed!

And note to self: have faith, live, laugh, be kind and simply be!

Gratitude Memoirs #1: For Confidence ‘Kisha’ Mshakarara, with gratitude


She stood by the doorway of the bedroom that we had dubbed the ‘girls’ room’ and spoke in measured tones, expelling each word carefully as if it was important to get the words out in their right order.

There was uncharacteristic hesitation in her speech, as though she knew these were the right words to say but that saying them was the wrong thing to do.

She sounded conflicted but resolved.

“I am going into town right now and when I come back, I want to find you gone. Take your pregnancy to its owner. I don’t want to see you in this house again. Is that clear?”

It’s been too long for me to remember my exact response to that but I am sure I said something like “Alright” or “Yes, I will” or “Okay”… I don’t know.

Perhaps I said nothing.

Perhaps I was too shocked and numbed at that point to think of an appropriate response to this woman who had been all but surrogate mother to me for the six years I lived under her roof.

Some memories lie buried deep under layers of greater events, more imposing struggles and instances of excruciating suffering which dwarf everything else that preceded them.

So my recollection of these particular events is neither sharp nor precise, merely a hazy outline of what I remember to have happened and now, after so many years, what remains are broad stroke reminiscence of pains that have long ceased to matter.

What I remember is that it was 12 July, a Monday in the year 2004 – a solid decade ago and so much has happened in my life since then as to render these events relatively mild in magnitude but not in consequence.

I was three and a half months pregnant and had been back home for just three days on semester break after writing my first year examinations at the University of Zimbabwe where I was student.

The circumstances under which I wrote those exams require a whole blog to outline, suffice to say that, I had been hit by a car along Harare’s Rotten Row the previous month and suffered injuries to my hip joint rendering me unable to walk.

I had written my examinations after being carried on the backs of fellow students from one exam room venue to the next – but that’s a story for another blog.

On this Monday of 2004, I was being kicked out and I had no clue how I was to walk from the house of my uncle where I had lived since I was 14 to my boyfriend’s home which was about 15 minutes walk away.

For starters, my hip hadn’t really healed so I had trouble walking – it hurt incredibly to even move, let alone attempt to carry my bags and measly belongings and present myself at my boyfriend’s doorstep claiming refuge for myself and the baby I was carrying.

As fate would have it, one of my dearest friends from High School whom I had not seen in over a year had returned to Zimbabwe and called to say she was coming over to visit me and catch up.

I remember telling her that visiting me was not a good idea because I had just been ordered to vacate the premises and I wasn’t even sure if I would be welcomed at my boyfriend’s home.

I don’t think I cried that day.

Maybe I had known and expected this course of action from my aunt – that kicking me out was what the average parent or guardian does under the circumstances.

Anyway, I packed what I could and my heart was aggrieved at all the piles of cherished novels and books I could not take with me.

I had no idea how exactly I would walk to my boyfriend’s house and my aunt had not specified what time exactly she would be returning from town so I had no clear sense of deadline, only the knowledge that I was no longer welcome there.

The answer came in the form of my friend, Kisha, who showed up at the door even after I had warned her that she might not be met with a warm welcome as I myself had now become persona non grata.

She showed up regardless of the fact that she had just arrived from a grueling 12 hour journey from SA and hadn’t even seen me in over a year.

She showed up because that’s what real friends do when you’ve gotten yourself into trouble – they show up.

It was Kisha who carried the luggage and it was Kisha who bore the weight of my body leaning against hers for support.

It was Kisha who made jokes about the situation, made me laugh so hard that although it took me double the time to get to my boyfriend’s home – I wasn’t in a state of despair.

It was Kisha who saw me off to what would become my premature marriage to a very young man of 23 that I was madly in love with.

What should have been the worst day of 2004 was saved only because a wonderful friend of mine showed up and for that I am grateful.

I don’t know how I would have made it without her, Kisha has a habit of ‘showing up’ especially when the going gets tough.

...Confi, we have come a long way from the girls we used to be..

…we have come a long way from the girls we used to be..


This blog is to say (in many words) that I love you and I am so thankful you showed up when you did.

There are thousands of memories I have of you and countless acts of kindness you have bestowed upon me but somehow – I remembered 12 July 2004.

Thank you Confie.

Wanting is a powerful thing…


Wanting is a powerful thing.

We get most things done simply by wanting to do them….we want to love and so we love; we want to stay and so we stay; we want to leave and so we go; we want to endure and so we keep holding on; we want fresh starts and so we give up some things…and so on and so forth.

That is the power of wanting.

AND the only thing I know that is more powerful than wanting is – NOT wanting.

Never try to compel a person to do what they don’t want to do; to be where they don’t want to be; to go where their heart isn’t or to become who they don’t want to become.

It is a waste of energy to try and change the mind, will or heart of someone that doesn’t want.

You know why????

Because your wanting is NO match for their NOT wanting.