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.

The frightening ‘normalcy’ of domestic violence


One of the funniest stories my mother ever shared with me was a story about violence.

Actually there were two – one is just less funny owing to the horror I still feel when I imagine how it could have all turned out.

My mother’s side of the family had some colorful characters, chiefly my maternal uncle papeNever (the father of Never) and my maternal aunt mmeDubekile (the mother of Dubekile) who were both ex-combatants and had a penchant for regarding physical violence as the best conflict resolution strategy.

The first story my mother told me was of an incident that occurred when I was three days old.

My mother said that when I was three days old I was nearly killed by my uncle papeNever (her big brother) who had drunkenly and wildly swung an axe on the bed I had been laid on.

My uncle papeNever had burst into the hut my mother was resting in wielding an axe in hot pursuit of his wife, my aunt mmeNever (the mother of Never) over an unspecified dispute.

But generally, papeNever didn’t let not having a good reason get in the way of giving his wife a good beating – especially when he had imbibed.
violence
On that day, my mother had arrived from Beitbridge hospital with three-day old me – her first and newborn baby – exhausted from the rigors of labor, fatigued from the journey by bus from Beitbridge town which was concluded by an arduous trip in a donkey-drawn scotch cart that had to negotiate its way over and around bumps, ravines and crevices to get to her parents’ homestead in the hinterlands of Tshapfutshe.

And on that same day, my aunt mmeNever had been tasked with preparing a hut for my mum and she had taken to the task with much gusto seeing as she and my mum were very close – sweeping away the cobwebs on the thatched roof, applying a new layer of cow dung to polish the mud floor and making herringbone, chevron and checkered patterns as decoration.

She had attacked the mud walls with a stone to smoothen the inner wall surface and also used rich red, grey and white soils to paint the outer walls of the mud hut which she decorated with precise drawings of flowers on one side and shapes inspired from a deck of cards like the diamond, the heart and the ace of spades on the other.

I know all this because my mother had described it – she approved very much of cleanliness and was highly particular about the details of maintaining a presentable hut.

My aunt mmeNever had apparently done a sterling job on that day.

Everyone was excited about me, perhaps they were more excited about Virginia (my mum) the spoilt last born in the family, becoming a mother.

My uncle papeNever had missed my mother’s arrival as he had gone drinking – presumably.

Which is why when he had chased after his wife, all the way from his own homestead, yelling while she screamed – both of them failing to enjoy the beautiful orange hues of a setting sun in the horizon – my uncle had not known that mmeNever’s intended destination was the hut at the far end of my grandparent’s compound where my mother was resting.

He had chased after her, following blindly with the singular intent of catching up with her and teaching her some manners.

My aunt mmeNever had rushed into the hut and immediately dived under the bed which rested on bricks to elevate it (it made sweeping much easier) without offering any explanation to my mother who had been sleeping and oblivious to all the commotion.

Before my mother could gather her wits, my uncle papeNever, who had been about to catch up with his wife had also burst into the hut seconds later swinging his axe wildly – more for show than with any intent to actually strike his wife.

He was like that my uncle papeNever – always seeking attention by abusing his wife whom he knew everyone adored then waiting to be restrained and pleaded with and begged to ‘please calm down and stop doing this’.

On that day however, my uncle papeNever had not known several things.

He had not known that my mother was back from the hospital, he had not known that I was on the bed and that the bed had been changed from its usual position during mmeNever’s frantic spring cleaning so when he swung wildly, he tripped over one of the suitcases on the floor and his axe arced and impaled a shawl I had been wrapped in on the side of the bed where I had been laid.

My mother had moved me earlier to breastfeed me and had fallen asleep and had not laid me back on that shawl.

My mother told me that she had screamed. Screamed at her big brother.

Screamed for my grandparents to come and see, see papeNever try and kill her baby.

And my mother’s screaming mingled with mmeNever’s own screams for help whilst I obligingly joined this chorus with my own cries.

My uncle papeNever had not seen me yet and upon realizing who was in the hut he had tried to reach out and hold me, to quiet me down and meet his new niece but my mother would have none of it, screaming that he must get out.

It was my aunt mmeDubekile, my mother’s big sister, who had dragged my uncle papeNever out of the hut and then proceeded to viciously pummel him with fists, kicks and all manner of ex-combatant fighting moves until my grandmother had cried out to say she would not have it… she would not have anyone try to kill her son before her very eyes.

I was a newborn when this happened but my mother told me of it with such vividness that sometimes it feels like I remember the violence through her narration and experience of it.

The other story my mother told me, I cannot get into it in this post. Maybe next time.

I was reminded of this story some days ago when I read of a man that killed his 10 day old baby whilst trying to assault his wife.

It frightens me that the more such stories appear in the media, the less outrage and action they provoke.

I think that no matter how much we witness these incidents or read about them – we must never regard them as normal or as an unchanging and unchangeable aspect of life as we know it.

Perhaps we tend to think of domestic violence in terms of what ‘other’ people are doing and never in terms of our own actions, attitudes and choices.

It frightens me that violence against women, against children, against men should become a normative way of life as reflected in our media.

And I am frightened by our collective nonchalance because in many ways, I think the biggest challenge in fighting gender based and domestic violence is the perception that violence is not only normal but inevitable in our nation’s homes.

p.s: apparently my father hadn’t even had a chance to see me when this incident occurred as he was away on business in Bulawayo… so you can imagine how much ‘drama’ (I am understating it) it would have caused if any harm had befallen me

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 #4: Thanks to those who’ve believed in me (Guest Blog)


By John Mokwetsi

I often doubt myself.

I question myself and I question why things are programmed the way they are in my life.

Maybe I occasionally suffer from impostor syndrome or maybe I am just never quite content with whatever I may have achieved.

There are times I when try disassociate myself from my successes and from those achievements people use to define what I am or what I have become.

It is never enough to be me. Some call it ambition and a psychologist friend says it is low self-esteem.

...I have been to places I never thought I'd be, done things I never imagined I'd have a chance to do and people who've believed in me every step of the way!

…I have been to places I never thought I’d be, done things I never imagined I’d have a chance to do and people who’ve believed in me every step of the way!


But it is when I forget other amazing things about being me that I am reminded by my tortured conscience what the great spiritual writer, Thomas Merton once said:

“To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us – and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.”

In those moments when I have felt my ambition waning, when I have considered my resolutions to be as worthless as the paper they are written on – I have had shoulders graciously offered to me to lean on… and to weep if need be.

Perhaps I took to heart the words of that brilliant French novelist by the name Marcel Proust who said: “Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”

Whenever it seemed as though my soul where lost and searching for the path; I have always had that unexpected yet amazing midnight call or that thoughtful and encouraging Facebook inbox and more importantly – the motherly assurance that all would be well.

My mother has had to play the role of a father figure in my life and as a single parent her life was far from easy and fulfilling these roles required a great deal of dedication.

Despite the financially constraints she worked hard to ensure I was fed, clothed, sheltered and that I got a reasonable education.

She has been there to listen to my stories of disappointing girlfriends.

That closeness can only be born out of the heart of a woman, for it is the maternal love that can only be patient with the whining and complaints I had almost on a frequent basis about this and that.

I only discovered a half-brother and two sisters very recently. After 32 years of living I found myself with siblings – a brother and sisters.

Before them, I’m grateful to the close friends I’ve made over the years because I think my friends somehow became dots that linked up to create the person I have become.

From Tafadzwa Chinembiri who has always been there… to Delta Milayo Ndou who always says I can be whoever I want to be… to Bethel Goka who keeps on pushing me… to workmates who have monitored my progress and cheered me all the way and to Joseph Katete’s ears that never tire of my fears.

I am especially blessed to have my wife Mildred who chooses not to see my weaknesses while I am indebted to Vincent Kahiya who put his head on the block for me.

I think of and appreciate people like Ignatius Mabasa for the inspiration and for believing in me, as well as the colleagues I met at the University of Sussex and all the help they gave me (Zondi, Mialisa, Tanya, Sammy and a host of them).

At some point in this whole article, I obviously have to make mention of my favorite football team so here it goes – to Dynamos supporters for showing me that when you cheer others you cheer yourself too!

But I reserve the last and most important mention for my son, Jayden.

Jayden is the brother I never had, he is the reason I work hard, he reminds me of the father I never had because he passed away when I was too young cry.

Jayden is the personification of all my joy as a father and the embodiment of all my fears that go with fatherhood.

They are many others I did not mention, not because their contribution was less important, but because there are far too many to mention.

Suffice to say, I remember each and every one of them and I am so grateful to 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 #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.