(Image from Pinterest: Fadzai.)
They say loneliness kills more people than cancer. I do not fully know how far true that is but judging by the way I feel right now, it might be true. I feel empty, lost and futile without him. It has been 156 days 16 hours 34 minutes and 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 seconds now. I have been going through the same routine for the last few weeks. I wake up, cry, drag myself to the shower, say a little prayer as I scrub off the bad decisions and drunk texts, I would have sent him the previous night. I recite the words of affirmation I have put on my bathroom mirror. “You are beautiful”, “You are strong”, “Smile”, it is something I saw on TV, but I do not think it is as helpful as I thought it would be. I choose what to wear, which is not very momentous as I always end up choosing the usual- black slacks, a black top and black shoes. It is the only colour that exerts how I feel and succours me to be invisible. I get ready and go to work. Saru comes to my desk and we catch up on the usual stuff, food prices skyrocketing, no water or ZESA but she knows better not to ask about him. Lunch break comes and I go out, anywhere to avoid chit chat that will force me to talk about him or my “current situation”. I know, I said I would not go to his workplace again or contact him, but today I could not resist. I stood across the road where I was in clear view of his office. I saw him through the first-floor window, busy typing something on his computer. I stood for what seemed to be the longest time before I decided to go back to work because the sky was threatening a storm and that is how my routine was spoiled today.
I came back before my break finished and sat in the bathroom. I cannot bear to be around people, especially when everyone in the office is raving about Rudo’s engagement and how romantic it was. I am happy for them, do not get me wrong, we used to go out on double dates and always talked about how we were going to be godparents to each other’s children. I remember our first double date; we had decided to meet up after work on a Friday. Rudo and I would head to Nando’s where we would meet up with Rudo’s now fiancé, Ngoni and Tapiwa. I remember how Rudo and I got ready in the bathroom at work, exchanging lipsticks and mascaras. Tucking each other’s bras and spanx as we got ready for our dates.
” Wow, Fadzie that dress looks nice on you and shows your figure. Askana where have you been hiding all these curves?”, Rudo asked as stood from a distance complimenting me. I was wearing a red bodycon dress, gold sandals, gold stud earrings, a gold bracelet and I had my box braids in a bun. Rudo was wearing an orange midi dress with white strapped sandals, big white earrings and her shaved head was dyed a dark red. Her dress hugged her slender frame which she always complained was boyish, but I envied how she would eat a whole cow and never gain weight. As for me, I had been on countless diets that I only committed to or a few days before indulging in my daily lunch of Chicken Slice.” Rudo usadaro sha, look at how flabby I am. My muffin top has come back again.”, I laughed as I tried to pinch at the love handles that were now tucked in my spanks. ” No, Tapiwa is very lucky. He has something to grab on to. Look at me, all skin and bones”, Rudo responded, sticking her bum to me so I could clearly see what she meant. We both laughed and we packed our makeup bags, rushing down to catch a mushikashika.
When we arrived, we found Tapiwa and Ngoni already sitting in a booth chatting. Tapiwa saw us first as we walked towards them. He tapped Ngoni who was sitting opposite him. They stood up in unison and waited for us to approach them. I believe they were taking us in, and we sashayed toward them. Rudo and I smiled at each other and walked towards them. Tapiwa hugged me tightly and kissed my cheek.
” I do not know why I am always surprised by how beautiful you are each time I see you.”, he said as he kissed my hand ushering me to my chair. I could not stop grinning, I had never been the “hot” girl, even in high school when the boys used to rate the whole stream, I never made it in the top 10 or to top 50. Hearing Tapiwa say this made me feel special and but a little uncomfortable.
” Thank you. You do not look bad yourself.”, I managed to respond. We sat opposite each other and for a few minutes, we forgot we were a foursome. I introduced Tapiwa to Rudo and to Ngoni who he had struck up a friendship with already. We ordered our food and ate whilst conversing. We talked about work, the economy, families and politics.
” Ah, the situation now is very dire. Electricity and water are now a luxury. I swear, soon we will be reliving the cholera outbreak.”, Ngoni said as he shook his head sipping the last of his juice.
” It is very tiring and exhausting. You know every morning I wake up wondering if things will ever get better. Will we ever dream again and pursue our passion or are we always going to be on constant survival mode? It is discouraging kuti we always have to go to other countries to look for employment and survival, and we are treated like shit in the process.”, Rudo countered her boyfriend’s statement. She had always wanted to be a fashion designer and had a keen eye on the latest trends and styles. She had passed her Cambridge Fashion and Fabrics, had been offered a place at Manchester University but due to the inflation and lack of funds, she had to face reality and get a job to pay the bills.
” That is very true, the leaders are always saying heee we are open for investors, and we hear that we have received funds from America or China or Russia, but do we know where the money goes? There is no change and it seems the more funds we get, the harder things become. It really is disheartening, think of the people in the rural areas, most of them die thinking life is meant and supposed to be like this.”, I retorted, thinking of the other Zimbabweans who would never know what the door of a school looked like or die without knowing their gifts and passions.
” Zvakaoma guys,” Tapiwa said as he reached for my hand and patted it. ” It seems no one has an answer or solution. How many times do we have to march and protest? At times, I feel like the whole connoting of Zimbabweans being a peaceful people is a facade. We are scared and our efforts all lead back to the starting point. I think we subconsciously resort to the devil we know than the angel we do not know.”, Tapiwa gave his two senses. I loved how he furrowed his eyebrows and bit his lips and whenever he talked about serious issues.
” Who is the angel now because it seems the leaders only want popularity and are all the same. All these fake promises but they are in cahoots behind closed doors. Hazvimeke sense. Does not make sense at all. And, how does a whole nation lose 3 aeroplanes? 1, 2, 3 just vanishing into thin air. No one knows how or why. I think we need ana papa to investigate because ka.”, Ngoni said, and we all burst out laughing.
” I guess the only viable option is to go west. They seem to like us there. Professions like nursing, physio et cetera seem to be getting people opportunities”, I said as I nibbled on my last piece of chicken.
” Sha, it is not because they like us, but it is because we are desperate, and they know we do not have anywhere else to go. What of those who are not gifted or interested in that profession? Does it mean they have to make do with that?”, Rudo added. We all sighed, knowing what she had said was true and not knowing what to add. The atmosphere was a bit tense, so we all focused on our food.
Tapiwa smiled at me and mouthed, ” Are you ok?”. I smiled at him and nodded. We sat in awkward silence for a while then Ngoni started with another topic. ” So, Fadzai tells me you guys have been together for a while. Any wedding bells soon or mukuda kuchaisana mapoto?”, he asked with a grin on his face. ” You!”, Rudo said and grimaced at him and lightly punched him on his arm. They began to argue in a hushed tone, although we could hear them.” Haha, I hope so. Only if she says yes.”, Tapiwa replied looking at me. He flashed a smile at me, but I quickly looked down. ” Oh my gosh, Fadzai so you are going to get married before me ka?”, Rudo asked googly eyes. Words could not escape my mouth, I just smiled at her and played with leftovers in my plate.
It is his birthday today. I stayed up all night trying to make out a message which did not reek of desperation and yearning. I miss him, every day. Thinking about him brings me comfort but it is also the thing that spirals me into depression. I miss his hands, his crooked front teeth, his ears which I love to cup when I kissed him. I miss every bit of him and knowing that I will not be spending his 30th birthday with him hurts. He has never been one to celebrate his birthdays, he always said they were trivial and were a reminder of your death date getting closer. I had planned to take him to a movie and have a few friends meet us for dinner. His last birthday we had decided to watch a movie at his place. I remember him tracing my face with his thumb, staring at me when I woke up with my head on his chest. I ended up sending him a plain ” Happy Birthday Tapiwa” text but he did not reply. I think he did not see it, together with the other 20 messages which I have left him. I think I will go to his workplace and ” surprise” him. I mean, I am sure he still has feelings for me. You just do not discard feeling like a used juice card. Feelings linger, they just do not vanish. He did say he always wanted me around for his birthday anyway. Right?
” Hey, you fell asleep. You missed half of the movie.”, Tapiwa said stroking my arm.
” Why didn’t you wake me? I did not even realise I had fallen asleep. Sorr-“, I groaned sitting up.
” Why would I? I love watching you sleep. You look so serene and cute.”,
” Hhh-mm, and the snoring too?”, I said rubbing my eyes and sitting up to face him.
” That just reassures me you are alive. I think it’s cute.”, he said handing me a glass of water.
” Haha, you are funny. Me sounding like an old tractor is cute?” I handed the empty glass back.
” Yes, I find it very cute. The talking is what worries me.”
” Gosh, I was doing it again? What was I saying?”
” I couldn’t really make up what you were saying, but you were whimpering. It’s like you were crying in your dreams. Are you alright? Do you want to talk about it?”, he asked, kissing my forehead.
” I-It was him again. He was beating my mother and I was hiding under the table. I was a young girl, around 5 or 6 a-and he wa-“, I stammered as tears filled my eyes.
” Hey, it’s ok. You do not have to tell me now. I just want you to know you are safe and I am here, ok?”, he said kissing my hands which were clasped in his.
” Ok. It’s just I-I don’t want to ruin your birthda-“, I said as my tears betrayed me ad escaped my eyes.
” Fadzai, you can never ruin anything for me. I love you, wanzwa. You are the best birthday present.”, he said kissing me softly on my jaw.
” Thank you.”, I replied closing my eyes. ” Can you please repeat what you just did. I barely felt a thing.” I said sticking my jaw out.
” Oh, you mean this?”, he said kissing my jaw again and I moved so our mouths connected. As we kissed, he moved me so I could be on top of him.
” Wait, hold on. I-“
” I know, I won’t try anything. I know we are waiting.”, he said looking into my eyes.
” No, I meant- am I not too heavy for you.?”, I said shuffling myself down so I could be off his thighs.
” Girl, you play too much.”, he said lifting me and sitting me back on his waist. I laughed and leaned in to kiss him.
” I pray all my birthdays will be like this. You, me and this.”, he said burying his face in my neck.
” Of course, baby, just you and me forever.”, I said kissing him back.
I have been contemplating on whether I should tell you this or keep it to myself. But I seem to be at a crossroad, because telling you will make it real and not telling you, will eat me alive. You are the only one I can trust because I know you will never divulge my hearts desires and turmoils to anyone. I am sorry I am staining you with my tears, but I hope this will help you understand how much pain I am in as I write this. I am sorry.
I saw him today. Yes, I went to his workplace with his favourite chocolates and Tom Ford tie which I ordered for him a few months ago. He was standing outside his office building. He had his jacket in his hand and kept checking at his watch on his hand. I was standing at my usual place, by the building opposite his office. He did not see me. I stood there staring at me. He looks well and he wears glasses now. I do not think I will ever get used to seeing him with glasses, but he still looks handsome. I had the present in my hand, in a Louis Vuitton paper bags which I had borrowed from Saru who had got it from her sister who goes to Dubai for shopping. I was about to walk towards him when I saw him smile a someone. It was her; it was Anashe prancing towards him and grinning like she was seeing him naked. I quickly hid behind the big tree in front of the building, you know, the tree where we used to be our meeting place for lunch. She hugged him and he eased into it. They held hands as they walked away. I thought of following them, but my legs betrayed me, and my eyes revealed my feelings. I cried standing by the tree. He has moved on now and only after 5 months, he has moved on like we never happened. They looked so comfortable together, her hand in his. Smiling at each other, chatting and her stroking his arm with her other hand. He used to love touching my hand, but I could not let him. I was never comfortable with it. We once had a fight about it, which I think was one of the issues which led to our breakup.
” Hey, you.”, Tapiwa said as he hugged me from behind. I jumped as he caught me unaware.
” Shaa, I told you I do not like that. I don’t like people creeping behind me and trying to touch me. You know that.” I said walking away from him. He followed me as I walked into my office.
” I am sorry, I was just being romantic, and I could not resist. I just wanted to touch my hot girlfrie-“, he sighed walking behind me.
” You know how I feel about it. I told you how he used to do th-. I don’t like it.”
” Fadzie, you know I would never hurt you, right? And I would never try and make you uncomfortable, but I also like holding you. Nothing sexual but just feeling you close to me. Holding your hand, my hand around your waist but yo-“.
” Oh, so I am being a difficult girlfriend because I don’t like being touched in public or when I cannot see you?”, I said turning away from him and sitting behind my desk. He stood in front of my desk confused.
” What? That is the complete opposite of what I just said.”
” So, what are you saying? Am I asking or too much?”, I said staring him down.
” You know what, I came to have lunch with my girlfriend not argue. You know I love you and I would never hurt you; it’s been over a year we have been together, I would think you are now comfortable around me. Physical touch is my love language and it helps me feel close to you-“, he said walking towards me and reaching for my hand.
” I need to get back to work. I can’t do this right no-“, I replied, faking to arrange paperwork on my desk.
” Right. Wow. Ok. I guess I will see you later.”, he slowly walked to the door, stopped and looked back at me but nothing came out of his mouth. He sighed and walked out.
I slept well last night and as soon as I got home from work, I took a shower and ATE! I ate a proper meal after 3 months of nibbling on snacks, drinking energy drinks and wine. I cooked myself sadza and hifiridzi. I did not make it as good as mama, but it was good enough. I washed the dishes and watched a movie. Thank God ZESA ( Zimbabwe Electricity Sometimes Available.) was available, or I was going to read a book or bore you with my silliness. Not that I am complaining, you are always there but sometimes it is good and healthy to talk to an actual person. So, two days ago, I went to Mrs Choto’s house. I do not know if I have ever told you about her, but she was my Grade 7 teacher. I know, it is sad and pathetic that I am still close with my primary school teacher, but she was always there for me and knows me better than I know myself. Which now that I think about it, is sad. I cannot believe at 27 years old I am still like the 12-year-old me. Anyway, I went to see her today. She has aged but she still has the sparkle in her eyes. She still lives at 276 Kamba Road and now that she is widowed, she spends most of her days gardening and her son brings her groceries every weekend when he visits with his family. I appreciate that she did not act surprised when she saw me, because I would have walked away but she embraced me and ushered me into the house. She was cleaning her house when I arrived, so I took over as she prepared the tea.
” You do not look well Fa, is everything alright?”, she asked as she put 2 tablespoons of sugar in her cup of tea.
” I am fine. It’s just there is a lot to do at work and I have been b-busy. You know. The usual. How about you, how are you?”, I said circling the rim of the cup with my middle finger, trying not to meet her gaze.
” Old and wiser than you still, which is why I know you are lying to me.”, she said extending a plate with mafetikuku towards me. I shook my head and took a sip of my tea.
” Well, it is work and life and the situation in this country. It is just, you know.”, I said struggling to contain my tears. I looked at her and smiled. She looked cute as she sank in her sofa with a blanket over her. She still had her brass framed glasses and her salt and pepper hair made her look wiser. She was still the same, straight to the point but witty, warm but stern. I was the only student who understood and liked her in primary school. She was a second mother and my first confidant.
” Hh-mm, I see. Well, I feel sorry for your generation because unlike us, you barely know freedom. We had it for a while, but we at least know what it feels like.”, she said biting into her fetikuku.
I did not know what to say, so I sipped on my tea and kept my eyes occupied by surveying her house. Everything was exactly the same, every trinket and vase was in the same place as it was 17 years ago. She still had the same furniture, the sofa I used to sleep on when he kicked me out was still there, tattered but clean from her weekend ritual cleaning routine. She had new pictures hung on her wall, of her son’s wedding and her grandchildren. A black and white picture of her and Mr Choto on their wedding caught my eye. I was always fascinated by how it was black and white; did they not have colour back in the day or they literally lived in a black and white world.
“How is she?”, Mrs Choto asked roping me back to reality.
“Well, she is alive.”, I said finally deciding to pick a fetikuku from the plate.
“We thank God, but how is she? Have you talked to her?”, she said staring at me through the top of her glasses.
“I last talked to her about 5 to 6 years ago.”, I replied stuffing my face with the fetikuku. I never liked talking about my mother, and she knew that.
“6 years is a long time. Is she still with him?”, she asked. She was sitting back on her sofa. Her wrinkled hands rested on her lap.
“Yes. I h-heard she is still with him.”, I said.
“Hh-mm, I see. Do you want to talk about it?”, she asked me softly.
“Mrs Choto, I just came to see you not tal-”, I tried to lie to her. Big mistake.
“ Fadzai Mhere, you and me both know you did not travel all this way just to see me. Which I do not mind because I promised you, I would always be there asi you will have to talk to me. What is it that made you come here?”, she said, still sunk in her sofa.
“Well”, I stammered, I knew she was right, and I could not lie to her. I gave in. “I broke up with Tapiwa or he broke up with me, I do not know.”, I said stuffing another fetikuku in my mouth. Either this conversation was making me hungry or I was trying to occupy my mouth so it could not divulge much.
“The nice boy you came with a few months ago. What happened?”
“A lot happened. It’s a long story really but we are no longer together.”
“And how do you feel about that?”
“I am alright, you know. These things happen, you just realise people want different things and go your separate ways?”
“Was it because of your fear of marriage?” I shot a look at her, but she composed herself. How did she know it was not his fault?
“Huh?!”, I managed to say.
“I said, is it because of your fear of marriage? Was it prompted by the bad examples of marriages around you?”, she repeated with elaboration.
“N-no, I don’t think so. We just wanted different things.”, she was getting to me, I was beginning to feel uncomfortable. I quickly stood up and started clearing the table. I felt her gaze following me to the kitchen. A few minutes later I heard her feet shuffling towards the kitchen. I continued soaping the cup with Sunlight liquid and slathered it with the sponge.
“You know, just because your mother had a crappy marriage and love life does not mean the same will happen to you?”, she said leaning on the door frame.
“Have you heard of generational curses?”, I replied, looked out the window but at nothing in particular.
“That I have, but it does not mean they cannot be broken.”, she said. I could feel her gaze, but I did not want to face her, I continued washing the dishes.
“Fadzai, I watched you grow and each time your stepfather chased you out of the house, I saw how that broke you. Each time your mother left you for him, the sparkle in your eyes dimmed and when he used to hit your mother and call you stupid, hure or ugly, I-I felt your spirit dwindling rapidly. I understand they broke you, but I think it’s time you heal.”, she said.
“You mean move on? I have moved o-”.
“No, you are not listening. I said to heal, not move on. And if you had moved on, we would not be having this conversation and I would not be seeing those bags under your eyes and your rib cage from here.” I looked down at my abdomen and sighed. I had lost a significant amount of weight over the past few months. After my countless and unsuccessful diets prior, one heartbreak had managed to have me lost almost half my weight in a short space of time.
“I miss him. I miss him every day and I do not think I can go on with my life. He was the only good thing in my life and I-I ruined it.”, I replied, tears brimming in my eyes. I looked at the mug in my hand. It was all glossy, whole and pretty, with flowers running down the side and the word smile printed across it. I thought of how I used to be like that, glossy, whole and pretty. I slowly put the mug on the rack.
“ Which is why you should heal first, because Fa if you do not heal, you will be a catastrophe and hurt everyone who tries to get close to you.”, she walked into the kitchen and sat on the chair which she kept by the stove. “You are no longer a child so I cannot mince my words to protect you, but I have to be frank to help you grow. What your mother did to you was horrible and my heart bled each time you came here late at night and confided in me. It still bleeds as I am looking at you now, withered and defeated like this.”
I did not say anything and picked a dirty plate and began to lather it with soap. I was feeling uncomfortable, but I knew I could not escape her this time around. “Have you been having the nightmares again?”, she asked. I put the plate back in the sink and faced her. “No.”, I lied. Two nights ago, I had a dream that mama and I were being chased by that man and when we thought we had outrun him, he reappeared in front of us and snatched mama away. I woke up screaming with tears on my face. “That is good.”, she said. “Yes, it is.”, I replied. “Are you going to tell me what happened with the boy?”
“It’s a long story really and I do not think you want to hear about suc-”.
“I have time.”, she replied looking at me. How was I going to make her drop the subject? I was beginning to regret coming, even though I knew this was what I was signing up for. I sighed and pulled a chair next to her. We sat for a few minutes without saying anything. “Ok, I ruined it and you are right. My fear of marriage made me chase the most amazing guy in the world. He wanted me, he wanted to build a family and love me b-but I could not let him. I panicked and sabotaged the whole relationship.”
“Hh-mm and wha-”
“He was good for me, good to me too. T-there is this other day when we went grocery shopping. I was simply picking something off the shelves when I saw him looking at me. Looking at me, nothing provocative or creepy just pure love in his eyes. Of course, you know me, I asked what he was looking at. And he just said, you look beautiful and for a few seconds, I believed him, until my mind started replaying what that man used to tell me about my wide nose, dark complexion and big lips. I projected all that on him and accused him of lying. I-I was even surprised by the way I acted. No one had ever called me beautiful, maybe only when they want something. I feel like men only see me as this girl they can look at, compliment and have their way with. I could not believe him when he told me that or when he explained that he just said that and did not want anything in return. I j-ju-”, I began to sob. Mrs Choto placed her hand on my shoulder.
“And this other time when he went on a trip with his friends. I felt like he had abandoned me because he was not talking to me as much. Which I see now was clingy and silly, but I felt like he had found someone more interesting than me. My low-self-esteem and abandonment issues got to me. I always felt like I was not worthy of him, which is true because he was the most perfect guy ever and I-I broke us.” Mrs Choto did not say anything because she knew I was probably going to interrupt her again instead, she let me speak.
“I thought I had moved on after I left mama’s house, but I guess feelings are something you actually have to face and deal with. You can never just put a bandaid on them, they will ooze out and force you to pay attention. I do not want to go back their again, I do not want to remember or retrieve all the gory memories I had buried at the back of my mind. I can’t.”
“You need to, and you have to. Look at what burying your issues and feelings has done.”, she said handing me a tissue. “You will not live a full life until you make peace with your past. You will keep going back until you face it and deal with it. What your stepfather said and did to you has set the example of what a man is supposed to be like in your life, and when you see something different, even if it is the best for you, you are compelled to reject or sabotage it. You have not known any other example of love and my dear, as sad as that is, it can be fixed.”
“So how are you going to fix me?”
“Me?!”, she retorted and began to laugh. “I cannot fix you; I can help you yes but fix you. That is between you and your Maker.”, I rolled my eyes, she had started again with her quips.
“You think God cares about broken hearts and ex-boyfriends?”, I replied and went back to the dishes. “Oh yes, He does. He calls the broken-hearted and heavily burdened. Are you not amongst them?”
“Well, yes but doesn’t He mean like those with serious problems like poverty and cancer? Those with life-changing and pressing issues?”
“Yes, and yours too. Your problem is life-altering and a pressing issue now. It is a problem which is as important to God much as the next because you are heavily burdened and heartbroken too. It might be different, but it does not mean it is less important.” She said shuffling towards the kitchen unit and took a pot and placed it on the stove. She turned the stove on and began to mix the mealie meal and water to prepare sadza. “You are staying over, right?”, she said back in her chair. I was not planning on staying but judging by the dark clouds that had colonised the sky, I knew staying would be a good idea. I finished the dishes and went into the sitting room. She had told me she would cook, which was no problem for me because I hate cooking. I turned on the TV and the news was on, and Reuben Barwe was informing the nation on how the President was aware of the fuel, food, water and electricity crisis and how investors were financing the country and there was effective change throughout the country. I turned off the TV and laid on the sofa. The same sofa I used to sleep on those years ago, and probably the one I was going to sleep on tonight. She was right, the only love I had known was hurtful, fearful and disruptive. And the only time words of endearment were used, was to patronise. He did a number on me that man, the way he destroyed my mother and my self-esteem. I never understood why my mother kept going back to him, after the cheating and beating us senseless. I understand how he was her definition of love. He had literally made her dependent, he made her stop going to work, he made her get rid of all her friends and family. He had trapped us into believing he was on our side and no one else loved us. I checked my phone and went through my messages. I went on mu statuses and saw that Tapiwa had updated his. I had tried numerous times to delete his number, but I could not bring myself to. I had hoped he would text me or call, I still wanted to see the name “ Papi❤️” flash on my phone.
We ate quietly and after we finished, I went to the kitchen and familiarised myself with the sponge and water again. Mrs Choto bade me goodnight and went into her room. When I laid on the sofa and made myself ready to sleep, I heard her mumbling in her room. I realised she was praying so I tried not to eavesdrop on her conversation with God. I tossed and turned on the sofa, thinking about what Tapiwa had said. He had seriously moved on and had wished me the best. Was he really happy or did he just think he was happy? The same way I thought I had moved on but here we are. I reread his messages once again, he had declined my friend proposal and wished me the best. But what exactly was the best for me?
After my visit to Mrs Choto, I have been thinking a lot about what she said. About what love means to me. I hate to admit it, but she was right (as usual). I pushed Tapiwa away and he kept coming back, but just like any human being he got exhausted and hurt. He tried; God knows he tried. He listened when I vented and gave me space when I pushed him away. I never fully told him about my past. I always felt it was too much of a burden, for him, for anyone really. He deserved a girl who is good, from a two-parent household, with no issues, no low self-esteem and goes to church, regularly. I loved him the best I could. Not telling him was my way of protecting him. I thought my old issues were behind me, I had rejuvenated myself, I had the big chop, which is a symbol of starting anew, I got a new job which is quite crappy, but I can pay the bills. I thought that was all it took, get a new look, move away and all will be new again.
Oh, by the way, today I am wearing leggings. Which might seem like a small thing, but it is a huge step for me. One which I had to contemplate and battle with. The last time I wore leggings was when I was 16 years. I was in the dining room dancing to the new Beyonce song which had just come out. I thought I was alone, mama had gone to town and that man had gone on one of his many expeditions. I remember I was wriggling my hips, licking my thumb and running it down my chest imitating Beyonce when I felt his arms around my waist. I froze. I knew it was him because I smelt his tobacco and garlic breathe. It almost knocked me unconscious. He told me I danced so well and that I should dance for him one day, even now, he suggested. He began to sway my hips to correspond with his movements. “Ko hauchatambe? Keep dancing, I won’t hurt you.” I felt his hot breath on the nape of my neck, but I did not move. “Come on, dance with me. Aren’t you crazy in love like that girl on the television?”, he said moving one hand down to my buttock and grabbed it. I whimpered, wishing he could let go of me. My hips involuntarily swayed them with the other hand. “I love it when you wear these tights, the way these show your figure. You truly are your mother’s daughter.” He moved his hand from my buttock up to my neck. ” Keep this between us. No one needs to know this.”, he said turning my face closer to his. Tears began to run down my cheeks. I wanted to push him away and run for my life, but my legs felt heavy. ” Shh darling, uri kuchemei? It’s me, your daddy who has been there for you. I would never hurt you.” The music had changed to a song with a high tempo, but he kept controlling my waist at a slow pace. ” Come here.”, he commanded dragging me to the sofa. He let go of my waist and turned me around. He grinned at me and sat on the sofa with his legs spread open. He looked at me then at his groins and took my hand. ” Iwe, do not act as if you are new to this. This is how we men like to be pleased. This is all we want from you women, just a good time and we will leave you alone.” He gently placed my hand on his groin and looked at me. ” Go on.”, he said, gesturing for me to fiddle with it. I did not say anything or move. He quickly raised his hand to slap me when we heard the front door opening. He hastily pushed me away and I fell to the floor. ” Simuka and go to your room now!”, he whispered gritting his teeth. I quickly stood and rushed out of the living room door, walking past mama without saying a word.
” You should try writing down the things you are grateful for each day but try and do this only when you are sure you are healing.”, Mrs Choto said sipping on her tea. I had been visiting her every other day for the past two weeks now and drinking tea and rearranging my life had become our hobby.
” What if I do not have anything to be grateful for?”
” Iwe! How can you say that? Are you not alive? Did you have to buy the oxygen you are breat-“
” Ok, ok. I get it.”, I said rolling my eyes but making sure she did not see me. I was getting tired of this positiveness and healing process. I wanted to wallow and think about Tapiwa. He would be paying Anashe’s lobola in a few hours from now. I wanted to be left alone and pout about how I was going to die alone and not have anyone to bury me, except for Mrs Choto who would probably be dead too by then.
” Yes, as I was saying. Thank God for a beautiful day and start it with thanksgiving. Be honest with yourself and acknowledge your feelings. Ask yourself why you feel a certain way and what you can do about it. Address and face any toxic traits you might hav-“
” I do not have such.”, I said.
” Hh-mm, you think so? Tell me, why is that you always walk out of the room when you are uncomfortable?”
” No, I do not.”, I tried to protest. Why did I do that? I am afraid of confrontation, maybe it is because I always feel attacked and my mind always tells me I am wrong. So, I am judge and jury, I sentence and persecute myself before anyone gets to it first before I do.
” Fadzie, I thought we were past this denial stage and healing now. In order to heal, you need to face your fears and flaws.”
I did not say anything, I continued to write down what she was telling me. She had decided to move to her village home in Chivhu. She said there was no difference between the towns and the rural areas in Zimbabwe anymore. She wanted to be around the things she grew up around when she was young. She yearned to be in a familiar and sentimental place when she died. All her siblings had passed away and she did not want to be a burden to her son who also had a family to look after.
” As I was saying, yes face them and also when you write in your diary, start with words of encouragement like ” Today is a good day.” or ” Lord, use me as you wish today”. Always start your day with God.”, she said sipping on her tea again.
” Can I come and visit you? When I can of course.”, I asked her, a bit hesitant. I felt she was abandoning me again. Just when I was starting to open up and being comfortable around her, she was leaving.
” Of course, Fadzai, you are always welcome. And do not think me leaving has anything to do with you. It is just life, it is very unpredictable and the situation is forcing us to make changes. I meant it when I said I will always be there for you, I might not be there physically but try and hold on to the things I am telling you. And if that does not work or sounds tedious, go on your knees and ask Him for guidance.”
” Yes, ma’am.”, I replied. It meant so much to have someone love me and be with me even when they knew my flaws and toxic traits. I was not going to ruin this relationship like the ones before. Even though I was tempted to up and leave because I was experiencing something very unfamiliar- tranquil.
” And I also want you to remember, not all men are like that man from your childhood. There are loads more like Tapiwa. Men who are not afraid to love you and your past. But!”, she exclaimed, pointing at me. ” Do not take or accept foolishness from anyone in the name of love. Have standards and know your boundaries. Never think you can fix anyone, no. That is why at the very beginning I laughed when you thought I was going to fix you. So many people make that mistake of thinking someone can fix them or their happiness is centred on someone. Learn to love yourself first, know yourself and be comfortable with yourself. In loving yourself, you learn to love others, you project how and what you think of yourself. Remember that.”
I jotted down her proverbs in silence. Even though her words flew over my head as I wrote them down, I knew I would need them in future. My mind and heart were still yearning for Tapiwa. If he saw me now, he would love me again. He would see how I had grown or rather, how I was growing. He would leave Anashe for me, but I knew better. Life is not as they portray in those chick flicks and romcoms, there is so much that goes into it and as I had said before, people want different things and go their separate ways. Tapiwa wanted someone who was ready to be loved fully, for marriage and to build a family, someone who would do life with him and grow old with. I had never been around that, so I never knew what it looked like, growing old with someone or being loved fully. What did that really mean and what exactly did it look like?
We sipped on our tea and watched a rerun of Paraffin. It was the episode when Mai Sorobhi had a toothache. I watched Mrs Choto fully indulged in the comedy. I know she had said no one could make you happy but she was my happy place. She projected warmth, kindness and peace, and I wanted that too in my old age with grandkids running around and my children happy and blessed. I turned my attention to her black and white 21′ television which she had refused to change for a flash flat screen and laughed at Parafini who was mimicking the nurse and coincidentally, laughed with glee and joy for the person I was becoming.
It has been a little over 2 years since my breakup with Tapiwa. I cannot say it was a blessing in disguise because he was a great person, but I guess losing him helped me find myself. I am still trying to think positively about myself. I have started walking. It is the best I can do considering I cannot afford the gym and 110, 101 or 011 meal regiment seems to be helping me “keep” my figure. I might start running soon but that is not a promise. I am trying to be healthy in as many ways as possible.
I heard from the grapevine (and by the grapevine I mean Saru told me) that Anashe and Tapiwa just welcomed their first baby. I am happy for them, truly. I had wished it were me, but I guess being happy for others will open doors for me.
Today I called my mother. It was not easy because I had been putting it off for weeks now. She sounded happy and surprised to hear from me. She said she wanted to see me and just “talk”. What does that even mean? I told her I would let her know when I will be free. To be honest, I am not yet ready to see her or “talk”. I think maybe I rushed making contact.
Merry Christmas! For the first time in years, I think I am going to jot down some resolutions. I used to when I was younger but never committed, however, this time around I am going to effectuate each and every single one of them.
Fadzai’s 2019 New Year’s
resolutions promises to self.
1. Be kind to yourself.
2. Have standards and boundaries know you deserve the best life has to offer.
3. Contact your mother at least once a week month.
4. Find out more about yourself, your likes, dislikes, hobbies etc
5. Join a group where people fight for a good cause, eg Human Rights or Justice for Children.
6. Love your body in any form, whether you lose weight or gain- love it anyway but for now, remain the same size because you have no money to buy new clothes.
7. Try and visit Mrs Choto as much as possible.
8. Learn to pray for yourself and know God for yourself. Ask for guidance and inspiration. (P.S This probably should have been number 1 but don’t worry, we are learning to prioritise.)
9. Give love a chance again and if that’s too much for you, start with making friends first.
10. Remember you are beautiful, and I mean that.
” Saka wafunga kuita Muzvare Betty Makoni?”, Saru asked as she sat on my desk.
” Yes,” I said rolling my eyes. ” I think more people need to face their past no matter how painful it might be. It will be open to all, men or women to talk about their issues and have people going through the same to talk to.“
” Hh-mm that sounds like a good idea. So how will you start? With a WhatsApp group or weekly meetings?”, asked with her arms folded against her chest.
” I do not know. I have not worked it out yet, it is just an idea for now.”, I replied swirling with my chair.
” I am happy you have found something you enjoy doing and helping others in the process is a reward in itself.”
” Thanks, shaa.”
” Ko how far with the guy you met at Rudo’s wedding? He was hot. Please spill the tea.”, Saru said positioning herself to face me on my desk.
” You know people are going to complain kuti we don’t work and just gossip 24/7?”
” Ah shaa, that’s their personal problem. Tell me. You looked in love at the wedding. Do you think he is the one?”
” Ah, Saru!”, I laughed, she was one to over exaggerate and overreact to everything. ” We were just talking the same as how everyone was talking. He asked for my number, but I gave him my email address instead. I feel more comfortable that way.”, I thought she would laugh and ridicule me, but she did not.
” Ok, I guess if that is what you want, he can respect that.”, I looked at her wide-eyed, not believing she was agreeing with me.
” Iiih what askana, I also have standards you know.”, she said and we both laughed out loud, disturbing our colleagues who were working against deadlines.
Today is a good day ….