…thank you for the silence

Thank you for allowing the silence, for not taking offence at my decision to crawl under a rock and choose obscurity.

Thank you for understanding even though your emails got no reply and your text messages got no response and your online chats encountered nothing more than a blank screen.
It’s just the words are not there. They are no where to be found. And I am afraid to substitute them with tears – because if I start crying I don’t know how I would stop.

To grieve for a thing that died a slow and maddening death is hard to do… because it is hurt piled upon hurt and mostly regret stuffed into more regrets.

Thank you for allowing the silence; for knowing something’s wrong and waiting for me to say it out loud.

Thank you for not pushing it, for not pelting me with questions about ‘what’s the matter’ because you know I know where to find you when I am ready to talk.

Thank you for letting me keep it all inside because if I let it out it becomes real, overwhelming and out of my control.

Thank you for picking up your phone at the very first ring, even though your own calls went unanswered and the voicemail messages you left were ignored.

Thank you for waiting until I was ready to say the words out loud. To say it to myself and admit it to you too.

To say, “It mattered and I lost it. It mattered and now its gone. And the loss is more horrible because it died long before I could bring myself to accept that it was no more.”

And now I grieve over the carcass of what once was, and mourn over the skeleton of what could have been and words fail me.

So I let the silence fill this space – there are no words, I cannot find them.

So thank you for allowing the silence.

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.

Remember me (or maybe not)

This year I forgot to remember the day my mother died. I mean I went through the entire day without even thinking of her, without stopping to be sad or to be appropriately somber. Even now the admission makes me feel wretched.

When I realized what had happened, I was ashamed – ashamed that the wounds had healed -ashamed that the tears had dried up, ashamed that I had carried on with life, ashamed that I had lived while my mother had not.

What kind of a daughter was I? How could I have forgotten to remember?

...we all forget the people we love that's why we 'remember' them. For remembrance presupposes that one had forgotten. For it is not human nature for one to remember unless first they forget...

How is it possible that when we lose the ones we love – we are convinced that we will never ever get over it? And how is it that time has the gumption to heal us without our consent and often without us realizing it?

How is it possible that the dagger of pain that lodges in our heart when we lose someone we love eventually shrinks and fades into a distant memory? And how is it possible that life fills us with so much to do we barely find the time to sit and ponder where the pain disappeared to?

How is it possible that the anguish of the loss can so disorient us, that we find ourselves adrift without a compass to navigate life’s hazards? And how is it possible that we make choices, one way or the other and find we’ve reached the destination on our own?

How is it possible that the grief which tears at our guts recedes into a barely perceptible ache? And why is it that our hearts continue to beat when we no longer have the will to live?

How is it possible that the memories that once besieged us, gradually vacate our minds to make room for the new memories we make along life’s journey?

What right do we have to carry on when the ones we love are gone? I mean what is a more fitting tribute than to grieve and mourn for them, to prove to ourselves and to others that they really mattered, that they still matter and that they’ll always matter?

I find myself thinking, who’ll remember me when I die? Who’ll miss me and who’ll care enough to mark the months, to count the years and to recall so trivial a detail as the date of the day that I die?

Will my son? Will the man I choose to spend my life with? Will my brother or my sister? Will the people I befriended, the people who befriended me and those who helped me or those I too, helped? Who will remember me?

Or will life inexorably go on? Will the memory of me lie discarded in the attic of their minds, gathering layers of dust and tucked away in the recesses of forgetfulness?

I think that if the memory of me brought nothing but sadness to those I cherish, I would much rather they forget me and embrace life. I would rather that they would sing, dance, fall in love and experience every possible wonderful thing before their time runs out.

For I would hate to think that my death would signal the end of their own lives – that in loving me, they chose to hate life – what a horrible waste I would think, what an awful tragedy it would be.

So as I ponder upon it; I find it is not a thing of shame that I did not remember that date – I think it is a thing my mother would have approved of. For she would not want me to build a shrine to her in my head – in the space where I could build dreams of the future; neither would she want me to erect an alter of sadness to pay tribute to her – in the space where I could weave fond memories to share with the grandson she didn’t live to meet.

So when I am dead, may those I love honor the memory of me by living and not by dying.

May those who looked up to me immortalize me by succeeding and not quitting.

May those who cherished me pay tribute to me through laughter and not tears.

And in the words of Christina Rossetti: Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

…in fond memory of my late mother, Virginia Machoeni Ndou (nee Lamola) who’ll always be in my heart though with the inevitable passing of time; she may stray from my mind.