“I’ll settle into this loneliness till it feels like a second skin

There is a huge difference between alone and lonely. It is something you become intimately familiar with after a while of being alone and lonely. You find yourself sitting in a house that does not feel like home , an adult whose only connections seem to be through the phone. The word ‘seem’ is a better choice here because it’s not like you’re a total loner. You go for drinks and have chats for days with mates but after it’s all said and done, it’s just you and Bunny the hot water bottle. 

Alone is when you are recharging, reconnecting with yourself, reading JD Robbs and watching old Jamie Fox interviews. Possibly both at the same time. Alone is sinking into a fantasy starring your lover or a fanciful day dream. Alone is a walk in the park on a gorgeous sunny day, flinching whenever a squirrel comes too close, seeing nymphs and fairies in the trees. 

Lonely is a cold fist, sitting in your gut, kissing every bone in your body until you are so chilled but don’t realize you’re trembling. Lonely is a crushing weight on your chest, a loud voice echoing in your very blood, begging you go out even if it’s just to see that humanity still goes on. Lonely is picking up the phone to text the moon of your life only to remember that you’re not their sun and their stars anymore. 

Some days you feel hollowed out, separated and out of sorts, like you do not belong to yourself. You must sink into the feelings. Allow them to ebb and flow with the tide of the moon. Experience every moment until one day, maybe it’ll be in the middle of a long soak or a leisurely shower, but in that moment, you will feel the hot water putting you back together again. You will say to all your family parts ‘welcome my love, I have missed you’ 

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Over the last few years, beginning with the very first Fees Must Fall protests, this country taught me that using your voice is one of the most dangerous things, especially if you have the nerve to be black, a woman and queer all at the same time. It has been apparent time and again that black women and queer people are always the first to heed any call to protest and the response is always unnecessarily brutal. It was with this conditioning that I woke on Thursday morning, stomach clutching with anxiety as I prepared to join thousands of other Cape Town citizens in the march for our lives.I’m still not sure why I decided that this particular protest would be my first or if I even had a choice, it felt like the only thing to do at the time .

 I realize some may think this is an exaggeration but the news cycle of the past week has shown us beyond a shadow of doubt that women and queer people in this country are being terrorized. The urban bible that is Wikipedia says “Terrorism is, in the broadest sense, the use of intentional violence, generally against civilians, for political purposes. It is often used with the connotation of something that is “morally wrong”.” With this in mind, consider that every day you don’t hear a horror story feels like a glitch in the simulation when the opposite is supposed to be true. The statistics, If you have the stomach for it, will boggle your mind. So no, this is not an exaggeration, South Africa is a terrorist state with women, children and queer people bearing the brunt of that terror. 


So back to Thursday morning, feeling more black, queer and woman than I ever have I donned my all black fit, jeans and a T-shirt for ease of mobility, sneakers for comfort and a bandana around my wrist, just in case you know? I carried a small backpack with water and milk, again just in case. Over the past few years I have seen countless threads of how to make it out of a protest unscathed, physically at least. I have seen think pieces on what not to do and how to navigate once the police arrive so I was as prepared as I could be. A group of us managed to get a couple of hours off work to join the protests and I have to be honest, a part of me was glad that I’d be surrounded by white and white passing women. I allowed myself to relax into the illusion that their privilege would build a wall around me too because I know what happens to black women and queer people at protests, I had a plan to get out of this in one piece. 

The meeting times and places were all confused so our group decided to go straight to the statue and along the way we joined a multitude of black-clad cis presenting (mostly)white people, after all we were in the CBD. I don’t want to harp on about the people that showed up  because it’s about bloody time they got involved but it was interesting to see the way they carried themselves. So self assured, striding confidently right into the vortex which felt to them like ‘trying to get to the bathroom at Trenchtown’. Watching them, I got the sense that this was such a cool adventure for them. Not to nullify what they did by showing up but it was apparent how comfortable they were in the space, not a single white person at the protests seemed concerned that there was a group of policemen right there. Which was very interesting to me because we’d all  been shocked and disgusted by the video of the police using water cannons and other means to try and disperse the crowds just the day before, so surely there’d be some apprehension right? All the while I was making sure to hang around the crowd periphery and making sure I had an exit route in my line of vision, you know, just in case.

I want, so much, to talk about the circumstances that led us to this day, I want to get into the things said at the podium of this specific protest. I even want to speak on my own experiences but I am overwhelmed by the difference with which we navigate the world. Laugh with me, I’ve lived in this city for ten years, I should know better but here we are. I am frustrated with myself because instead of celebrating the victory of a successful protest, I am struggling to get beyond the many black, queer, women that were broken by the system versus the relative comfortability of my adventure in the fringes of white privilege. There is an unquestioned right that white people have, a right to exist and occupy space and time. A right to move through the muck with no worries about the police or government silencing them. I remember looking at my group, my friends and feeling like I was a fear monger because I’d insisted everyone have a bandana and water in case tear gas came into play. I insisted we not go into the vortex because I was afraid but I felt like a fraud in their eyes when nothing happened. 


It made me wonder if the previous day’s skirmishes happened because there weren’t as many white people striding around like they owned the road. Later on that day a black queer friend told me how a policeman had jostled them at that very same protest saying things like ‘if you fall down right now who will be responsible for your injuries?” Was that because the bulk of the crowd had left? Is this harsh and unfair treatment only saved for people that look like me? My group was so bummed out that we didn’t get to hear the president speak and I felt guilty for not feeling the same way but I remember all too well the live ammunition and lives lost at Marikana. I was more than happy to head back to work.

It took a couple of days for the ball of anxiety to unfurl in my belly after the actual protest. I kept watching the news and the timeline to see if any black women and queer people’s lives had  been sacrificed for the cause yet again. The dust has kind of settled and all we see is more violence, one begins to wonder what it will take before we see any real change.



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“I’ll meet you in the next life, because this one is tainted.” Rayaan

 The young lovers were doomed from their first meeting. In a country as homophobic as Zimbabwe how could their love flourish. It started off with stolen glances over homework, holding hands after the church service because this is what best friends do. For all they knew this is how all best friends in the world felt for each other. That hard pound of the heart at first sight, melting into the ease of familiarity, finishing each other’s sentences.

At 16, the age of exploration Tari and Helen began to push the boundaries, just a little bit. Wrapping their arms around each other’s waist instead of just holding hands. Chaste kisses on the lips instead of stolen glances over homework. It felt forbidden and delicious as first love tends to feel and the questioning looks of peers and teachers didn’t penetrate their bubble of bliss. Neither of them truly understood why something that felt so right could be a wrong but they knew not to speak to anyone but each other about it. Of course this only strengthened their bond as ‘us against the world’ became their bff motto. 

School holidays came and Tari’s mom insisted she join a tennis club and like any self respecting teenager she made sure her best friend was enrolled right along with her. That summer consisted of mornings at the tennis court and afternoons and in the back of a car as they explored more than just the new found freedom a car license brings. Long lazy drives, picnics in secluded areas and feasting on more than just the food sis Rudo had packed. 

One day it was simply too hot to be traipsing around back roads so they decided to hang out at home. No one ever bothered them when they said they were studying anyway. Caught up in the euphoria of feeling blood roaring in the head, feeling the heat rise up from every inch of skin, new and unrecognized desires, they forgot to lock the door to the bedroom and the maid forgot to knock again. In that single hard heartbeat, all three knew life would never be the same again. 

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“admittedly I didn’t foresee being so mediocre early into adulthood” Msomifaya (Twitter)

Darling Gemini

What is the meaning of life? For what purpose was I brought into this world? Every new day is exactly the same as the one before and I am so over it. Nothing excites me, the sheer monotony of it all brings me to my knees. The rainy days and the sunny days all blend into each other so much it’s hard to tell what season we’re even in but that could be the global warming they told us was coming.

Do you see that? That list line, so typical of me to veer off into a subject no one asked for to try and lighten the situation. Am I just being funny? No one knows but I have to catch myself before I do it again right now.

I am so bored Gem, bored of life, of living, of going about as if I were a robot. Did I ever tell you what a clever little sprite I was as a kid? So outrageously social, oh the pranks I pulled. I had energy and such a zest for life, voted most likely to change the world by my peers. Admittedly, i didn’t foreseeing being so mediocre early into adulthood.

Was it the trauma of not being able to live as I wanted? Could it have been all the deaths that plagued my family in my formative years? I have no answers, only more questions and honestly I am tired of being so morbid. Let me gather myself, its the weekend.

I hope you are better than I am today and I will write again soon, hopefully with a better outlook. Do something wild this weekend on my behalf darling, LIVE!

All my love

Star

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“I collect insults like war trophies”  Sanelisiwe Kene

Darling Venus

Your last letter simply shattered my heart. What a travesty this life is. Born, without your consent, then doomed to a life so mediocre and bland because you have to wear the skin and live in the way they prescribe. Oh the stories I could tell you, I’ve been through it all.

What do you see when you look at me darling? A queen? A flamboyant peacock strutting around in my all glory. Do you think I’ve always been this confident and self assured? How marvelous would it be, little duck, if we didn’t have to tuck bits of ourselves away just to make ignorant comfortable.


I remember the days when I craved my mother’s tolerance. I understood the first time I came out to her that there would be no love for me any longer. Her devotion to that white Jesus meant that she willingly discarded a child she baked in her belly for months simply because I refused to be the cookie cutter version she expected.

To some degree I am grateful for that harsh rejection. Who knows if I could have been such a phoenix had that fire and brimstone not forged my character. Of course it’s not necessary to go through such bulshit to become the best version of yourself but I collect insults like war trophies, baby, I have elevated.

So chin up, your time to rise will come. Keep at it, don’t stop, don’t quit. Better days are coming. I simply won’t have it any other way.


 Remember, always, that the family of your heart is lifting you up to the light.


All my love 

Gemini

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John’s ex wife must have been some special kind of bastard, Janet mused as she looked at the three children foisted upon her. She was young and beautiful and this was not part of the Janet Life Plan. Of course she loved John but she hadn’t really believed him when he said she had to love his kids too. Children belong with their mothers, that was just the way of the world and John was just going to have to make a plan because she didn’t plan on being an instant mother at 21. Janet debated what to make for dinner while the children continued to play outside. It had to be a healthy meal but also decadent enough to make John putty in her hands because she intended for their talk to go her way tonight. Finally deciding on sadza and pork bones she got busy.

“Eh blaz, hanzi neboys handei timbonoita one one ka tisati tabaya kuden, “ John’s friend and coworker Dennis said. They had just finished another long shift at the canning plant. All John wanted was a cold shower and an icy beer in the company of his woman and children. She would be in the middle of cooking now, he thought, with the children watching tv. That picture drew him and he decided to pass, “Nah boss, I have a woman waiting for me at home, handidi kuzonyimwa waiziya?” They laughed and said their goodbyes at the gate and John got into his car and beelined home.

The scent of food hit John right in the gut when he opened the door and as he walked further into the house the lemony smell of a clean home and his woman’s lavender settled his spirit. He’d been feeling off all day, just a little unsettled but now he was home and all was well. He walked into the kitchen where the kids where happy to see him and the sweets he always brought. The commotion drew Janet from the kitchen and when he looked up he felt a sharp bolt of electricity work its way up his spine. Shrugging it off, John walked towards Janet and kissed her lightly “Hesi mudiwa Janet,” he whispered.

Dinner was a loud and boisterous affair with everyone gushing their compliments to the chef. Janet felt a little glow of satisfaction and had to remind herself to keep an eye on the prize. After delegating Saru , the eldest at nine, to handle clean up Janet asked John to take her for a walk down the street. “What’s bothering you mudiwa? You’ve been quiet all evening” John said as they walked out the gate. Janet walked a few paces in the gathering dusk before responding ‘ Joe, you know I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you right? The thing is I’m just not ready to be a mother “John stopped walking and just looked at Janet in shock. She said rushed on to say “I know we spoke about it but I didn’t know that I would feel this way. Try to understand mudiwa, I’m only 21” John abruptly turned around while Janet was still talking and stalked home

#5

I have been always able to write, it never mattered what I was going through at any given time. I do not remember not writing. So imagine my shock when not a word flowed from my fingertips. I felt like a part of me was missing and the sad bit is I knew that until I wrote about this, nothing would ever come from me again. and that hurt, but this hurt more so I avoided it. I ran but now I can’t run anymore so here we go.

 

 

TV would like us to believe that we only get one great love in this life. You know, that Meredith and Derrick kind of love but that’s not true. My loves have always been great, many were not true but they were always great. I lost one of my great loves a little while ago but I didn’t really believe it happened. See I have lived with a but more loss than anyone I knew so I figured I’d given my pound of flesh but this life thing is tricky.

 

Nothing prepares you for losing a sibling, especially if theirs is that kind of death that feels like a whirlwind. It comes unannounced and with such fury that it steals your very breath. You force yourself to go through the motions of repatriation, you accept help from wherever it comes. Then when you get home, you buy alcohol and drink and dance and smoke with everyone else.  You spend a little over 24 hours in what used to be your home then you travel back to what has been your life for 8 years, But your life is not the same, you are not the same person.

 

You’ll be busy going about, minding your own business when the flashbacks start. It could be a song or a phrase but it takes you back to that week in December, The songs they sang around the firelight. The songs that reminded you of a similar funeral, that one that happened at the same address 15  years ago. Flashbacks of people gathering around you, clamoring for your attention and your alcohol as they expect you to perform your grief. So you hold it in. You sing and dance with the rest of them but you ruthlessly keep your emotions in check because you don’t wan them to see that you are a living breathing human being.

 

You hold it together until you go to your great love’s final resting place because you missed the body viewing and the eulogies because you were too drunk to stay awake. Or maybe because you were not ready to say goodbye. Life goes on, you try to keep it together with the bare minimum allowed for stumbles.then suddenly it’s the memorial. It’s planned in the way your great love would have appreciated but of course you are unable to go because you gotta eat. Also you are not sure if you would have wanted to go because you haven’t yet been able to let go and all those people. Also you don’t want to perform your grief.

 

They send you pictures and videos that make you laugh and cry at the same time and at the end of the day you are sitting besides your beloved who wants to be there for you. They hold you as you cry, unable to fathom the thought of saying goodbye. It can’t be time for final farewells because you have so much to say. So many regrets. You wish you’d been able to get over yourself and sent the firsT message. Hell, even just replied their messages with verve. You wish you;d been able to unravel yourself from the mess that is your life to strengthen the relationship built by blood. You remember that they had always been your favorite and wish you’d have done more so that they would have known.

 

But its too late. Molly is gone and I never got to tell her that I love her. That even though  she had her own failings, she was still the best there was. Its too late to be friends like all the sisters in all those novels we liked to read, I don’t know if I can ever forgive Molly for leaving me but I will never forgive myself for not being a better sister.

 

Go well my great love, be at peace and kiss our mother for me. Í will always pour one out for you and say slainté. Till we meet again…

Panic Rising

It starts of as a vague feeling of discomfort, a sense that not all is as it should be. A wrongness you can’t seem to put your finger on. You scroll down twitter, hoping for a distraction but your mind can’t or won’t settle. Pretty soon you are looking behind your shoulder wondering if maybe someone is watching you. But that’s silly, of course no one is watching you, you just need to calm down. Ah, cigarette, you lovingly take it out of the box. Place it on your lips, click the lighter on. It flares, beautiful and gold. You touch the flame to the tip of your cigarette, it sizzles and you immediately take a huge calming drag. Feel it moving down your throat, feel it expanding your lungs and exhale. Pretty, pretty smoke… On and on you go, the soothing motions, the relaxing motions. You sigh, it feels like home.

 

Smoke break done, you go back inside. Fire up your laptop, time to start working but you feel an itch. Between your shoulder blades. Moving down your arms, your torso. All the way down your legs. You try to ignore it but you get a vivid image of creepy crawlies all over your body. The urge to crawl out of your own skin is unbearable. To pull out your hair. To make it stop. You jump but almost immediately you realize you’re being silly again, there’s nothing there. It’s suddenly hard to breathe, you look at your phone but your vision is blurry. Something that is usually effortless now requires a bit of concentration. It gets harder with each breath till you’re wheezing. Sobbing for air. You feel something wet on your face and belatedly realize its tears but you can’t worry about that now. Breathe girl, come on. Breathe…

 

Can’t breathe! Weight on chest. Throat blocked. Struggle. Struggle. Wheeze. Sob. You’re starting to feel faint, your phone rings. This is probably not the right time to be chatting away on the phone but you need to hear another voice. To drown the voices in your head. Your hello can’t get past the block in your throat. Sob. It feels like the caller is about to hang up because you’re not making any sense. They wonder if you are even on the line because the sounds are not human. Finally you manage to choke out “panic attack”, you can barely make out the words they are saying but you hold on to the sound of their voice. One breath at a time, slow, steady. In, out, repeat. Steady on girl, In. Out…

 

Equilibrium slowly returns. Gasps and sobs slowly turn to deep shuddering breaths. Thank you guardian angel, you think you will make it now. But quickly you have to leave the house. Shower. The water is a shade hotter than is comfortable. Can’t stop trembling, dry up and dress quickly. No time for lotion. Yesterday’s clothes will have to do. You pack up hurriedly, take three novels because you don’t have time to choose. Need. To. Get. Out.

 

Fresh air. Fresh fucking air. Jesus! Maybe you won’t die today after all….

My Mother’s Daughter

When they said I must marry a a man like my father I saw tears fill my mother’s eyes. I saw her avert her gaze because they would surely come for her now. I stood before my mother, shielding her with my body, to get to her, they’d have to go through me first. I looked at them defiantly and said…

“Why in the fuck would I want to love, let alone marry,  a man like my father like I didn’t watch him bully my mother relentlessly. If not with his words, it was with his fists. I can not tell you the number of times I cowered under the bed, the air thick with violence, as he screamed “I PAID FOR YOU!” If it wasn’t a shirt not ironed properly, it was unseasoned food. You’d have thought he was unable to pick up a salt shaker.

Tell me please, why would I want to marry a man like my father when I saw how his drink was much more important than any of his family? All my father did was drink, didn’t matter what time of the day it was or where the wind blew him on any given day. He could barely hold and job and whatever money he made went to buy drink while my mother slaved to make sure I had a roof over my head, clothes on my back and food in my belly.

It boggles my mind that you’d think I am interested in a man like my father as if I wasn’t there when he went into the girls’ bedroom. He told us he loved us so much and then proceeded to hurt us in our sacred places. Why would I want that life for any children I may have?

You must have lost your mind to think I’d marry a man like my father when I saw him drive my mother mad with jealousy.He absolutely had no shame as he laughingly paraded his younger women around the town making my mother the laughing stock of the entire community. Of course she couldn’t leave because ‘he had paid for her’ and all you said was ‘be strong, this is how marriage is.”

How can you sit there and tell me I should marry a man like my father when I saw him for the weak and spineless wimp he was? You forget I was there when his family hurled abuse at my mother? Called her a witch for not being able to have more children. He did nothing. He hung his head and mumbled nonsense like the bumbling fool he was.

I remember when my my father left. He left us all. And yet you sit there and tell me to marry a man like my father. A no good son of a bitch who won’t stay come crunch time? A coward who won’t even have the nerve to say goodbye? All he did was leave a note with sorrys that neither my mother nor I could could trade for hugs or groceries come month end.

Pray, tell me, why would I want to go through the hell my mother has had to endure all these years? To be with a man who cares nothing for your welfare or happiness is not my portion. I would rather be alone than to be with a man who utters the words “I PAID FOR YOU” as if I were a cow in the market square. My mother may have had to make do with her situation but trust and believe that will not be me. I am tired of trying to show you that I deserve your respect because I am your equal. I have had enough of you acting like I deserve less than the best because I am a girl. I am angry because you broke my mother’s back and spirit and assume you have the right to do that to me.

I was there. I saw it happen and I swear, it will not happen to me.”

The Journey

Every year around this time I struggle with mixed feelings. I am excited to see all the women in my family, my mother, sister and their daughters, but I am also crippled by fear. I am always afraid that I will reveal my true self to them and that would mean losing my position as the Oracle of the temple of Arua. Last year I came very close to revealing myself to my mother. She had come in to the inner room with a bruises and black eye, she prayed for my father. She asked the goddess to bless him and to make her a better wife so that she would not upset him all the time. I wanted to hug her and tell that its not her fault and that I was sorry for all the trouble I had caused. I felt like it was my fault because I gathered from her prayers that my father thought my mother had helped me to run away.
Ohhh I am sorry for getting ahead of myself. Its me Rumihura, last time we met I was going to ask the  Goddess to be her Oracle. I am her Oracle now, and I have been for the past five years but that’s a story for another day

On the night that I officially became the oracle I slipped into the inner prayer room while everyone was sleeping. I did not want to say my prayers at the altar because I was afraid someone would walk in and hear me. Before I could even kneel down to pray She said ( dont ask me how I knew it was her, I just knew) ” What are you running from child? ”
The question threw me off balance so I hesitantly replied, “I’m answering a call from the Gods?” Even I knew it sounded more like a question than a statement. She then asked me again “What or who are you running from Rumi? In my experience people who accept the call are usually running so I ask again, what are you running from?”

I was not ready to tell or even admit to myself the real reason I was eager to accept the calling. So I lied and told her about my father’s intentions to marry me off. “I will not force you to tell me the truth, when the time is right you will tell me all about her” she chuckled.  “I want you to know the day will come when you have to stop running.” And she laughed a friendly and very familiar laugh and she started asking me about my family and all about me.