By Namandla Mpunganyi
I struggled to write a Valentine’s Article for our magazine. No scratch that I didn’t struggle, I failed, completely too. I really, really wanted to write something. Well, not just something. I wanted to write about an amazing love that I know exists. I wanted to write something that would lift someone’s spirits up. An article that would make even the most heart broken person believe there’s healing that can be found somewhere out there. Something that would make even the worst grinch trust in love again. One that would make a lovelorn believe that there’s someone who can love them too, cause there is indeed someone who can. I wanted to inspire those who are in love to grow their love to greater heights and reach greater depths. And those who haven’t told the ones they love their feelings to take a bold step into making sure that it’s known cause hey, who would want to be left out of the whole love scene after I’d written something that mind blowing? I know I wouldn’t. I’d make sure I had someone to love, who loves me too in the shortest time possible. But well, I failed. I failed because I myself didn’t have the slightest idea about the very same feeling I wanted to share with the rest of the world.
See when I think of love it’s like I’m reopening the wounds of my past and yet love is supposed to be beautiful thing. Something to long for and to cherish. But the only thing that comes to mind is the pain I’ve felt all in the name of love.
Love is a beautiful thing, amazing really but when it comes at the wrong place, wrong time, wrong person and well, with the wrong intentions it becomes a whole lotta messy.
So because I wanted to write something I decided to stay true to myself. To dig deep into my soul, find my innermost thoughts and feelings. So then I started t write. I dissected my heart and allowed everything to flow out just as it is. Then somewhere along the way I felt an ache in my heart. Cause now I wasn’t just dissecting my heart to heal the ailment inside but I was allowing every single person who was going to read my every word to come onto the operating table with me and not just watch, but I was actually handing them scarpels to cut through and cut into everything else that I wasn’t ready to deal with.
And I began to ask myself, ” Is this all worth it?” “Is it at all relatable?”” Isn’t this cliche? I think I’ve heard it from somewhere before.” “Am I just another girl crying fowl about her past?” So I stopped right in my tracks and looked for new inspiration. I had to paint something different, but there was a catch. It had to be on the same canvas. I had to transform the ugly picture I’d already painted into something beautiful. Beautiful it could have been, but was that the whole image? Cause there was and would always be the not so beautiful picture right below this.
See, the scars that we have are just a sign that we’ve lived.
And that’s just what makes them beautiful, no matter how much we try to hide them, we can’t cause they bring out everything beautiful about us. So as cliche as my story was, it was real. And there’s nothing more relatable than the truth. No matter how painful and overdone it may be it comes as is, the ultimate truth.
So today is Valentine’s day and since it’s all about love, I decided to write from the heart. Cause out of the heart floweth all the matters of love. A heart that’s been shattered into millions of tiny little pieces over and over, and over again. But hey, I’ve managed to piece myself together time and again. Sometimes the pieces stick back together and others, well I’m still trying to flue them together. Sometimes I fail, horrendously too. It can feel like I’m going round and round circles, a meryy-go-round so to speak, but I’ll make it in the end. The purpose of my writing today is just to share a truth that I know many of us know personally. So please, don’t throw me, or yourself a pity party.
The purpose of my message today is this:
Sometimes things fall apart…
Sometimes things don’t work out the way we’ve planned out….or they just don’t work out at all…
Sometimes the pain feels like it’s never leaving….
Sometimes it feels like it hurts like there’s no tomorrow.
Sometimes it’s terribly unbearable…
Sometimes it feels like you’ve never experienced ant joy at all…
In those times just know this, there’s someone out there who’s felt it too before. It might not have been your exact situation, but trust me, the pain has ripped and torn their heart out too before. Remember too that you can smile again, it might not be tomorrow but you can rise again. Cause you’re beautiful and you’re strong. You’re able and you’re capable. And when it gets pretty hard, remember that there’s only one of you, and that YOU is perfectly amazing.
So stay true
DISCLAIMER: I’m not sad today. Trust me, I’ve had a happy and jovial mood all day. Those I spent the day around can testify. I was EXTREMELY happy. Just more proof to you that no matter what you’ve been through, or are going through ( I haven’t been through the worst of situations, though I know a thing or two about pain) you can still smile. So do just that, SMILE!
My Travel Memoirs
By Tapiwanashe Mabika
I always get a look – that look! – when I tell people that I quit my job. I graduated about a year ago and had been an intern with [law firm] for sometime. I know it sounds crazy but that is exactly what I did – I left the job and, together with a friend of mine Samson, decided to travel. Nothing seemed any more enticing than the prospect of some time away from all the places I had become used to, from the routine and redundancy that had settled with so much familiarity. I had to leave to find a new perspective to life entirely.
I had always been of the opinion that travelling was easy and that I’ll definitely do it sometime. I mean, to me the entire thing was pretty straight forward; you get your financial and visa situations in order and then you go. But that was just the easy part. The actual process was more complicated and as daunting as I’d never thought. Flying from one place to the other, connecting between different airports in different countries is not as much fun as it sounds. Jetlag is real. Checking in and out is so strenuous it gets you questioning just why in the first place you had to put yourself through that!
The journey began with a flight from Harare to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I stayed at the Shangri-La Hotel. Built in 1985, the 5-star luxury facility, located in Jalan Sultan Ismail, is a display of elegance and decadence. It is an architectural feat of magnificent heights which has hosted the finest of the world’s royalty, and here I was gracing the same floors, viewing the world from heights I’d never thought I’d reach… I was, at the beginning, calmly ecstatic.
Besides just the majesty of it all, the service is world class and the facilities are top notch. In the hot and humid climate characteristic of that part of the world, the air conditioning was rather amazing.
The food, however, was something else. Some of the girls I had met at the airport said that the chicken tasted like duck! Imagine! And we had to taste some strange delicacies whose names I’ve actually forgotten, and frankly nothing about that was impressive. But it was a different experience that had an early influence on my perception of the Malaysia and its culture. They also did not have any of the beer that I was used to and this got me rather depressed. Take into account the hot and humid air which already made spending a casual day outside such a sweltering experience, and the fact that I had to wind the day down on warm cocktails at five every evening, I was a bit out of myself.
We loved the ladies at the bar whose jovial mood was infectious enough that I couldn’t help smile and feel not too down in this strange exotic little hot paradise. I got the courage to ask one of the ladies if Malaysian men were just as friendly and she just said, “I love my job”. I still wonder if it was all a small language misunderstanding, or if this rather subservient humility was characteristic of the unique culture of the country I had visited. It was nice however to be appreciated in that manner.
There was also a man named Man whom we met and liked very much. Man was there to always give us the necessary pointers; which place was great for tattoos, what time the next shuttle to the mall left, things like that. One day he suggested that we book a tour guide to help us look around, get the full experience, so to say.
On Man’s advice, we were to check out a nearby island called Penang. Penang is a Malaysian state on the Northwest of Peninsula Malaysia, just by the Malaysia Strait. We were to be on the main part of the island where George Town, the capital, is located. The city life is more vibrant, and the food amazing, Man told us.
We got to Penang. Man didn’t it look empty? The place, Sam and I argued, looked a bit dingy. Imagine a flea market right in the middle of Copa Cabana? How does it look? There were no open shops at all; instead there was a sea of tables of people feasting around us wherever we went. The night life was no different. Without proper air conditioning around and the ever so helpful Man and his bevy of cocktail peddling ladies, there was nothing much to cheer us up. I felt homesick and so out of place. Sam and I’s friendship, and the reason for our being in Malaysia at that time, did not to draw so much on this experience, but strangely, as if it were the only thing that was holding us together, it did.
We were told by some locals that we should have gone to George Town. There, we were told, is a beach and everything was happening. So we decided to go to George Town. Blame our newly found sense of being for wanting to keep chasing the reluctant thrill.
We played a few water games in George Town and failed to get any cheer. Then our guide took us to a food place where the food was just as bad as that in Kuala Lumpur. I could see the strain this was taking on Sam, but none of this was of his making. It got to a point where we both felt like not being in Penang.
Two nights later in Kuala Lumpur we returned again into the night. We discovered an Irish Pub and became friends with the funny waiters there whose English was just as strange as everything I’d seen thus far. For a while we became their favorite customers.
A few days after that we said goodbye. Next stop: Cape Town, South Africa.
We arrived in Johannesburg. As soon as I landed, I could feel my spirit rising. It felt like I was back in the airs of familiarity where all my inhibitions could evaporate and I could finally find the perspective that I had been looking for. I even got my appetite back! I craved a burger so I went ahead and got myself one. I was so happy to hear some local music while waiting for our flight to Cape Town.
I’d been to Cape Town before, but that was back in the year 2 000 when I had barely developed any social sense at all. It was almost like I’d never been here actually. The city was beautiful in a way I couldn’t remember. It was clean and reeked of first world elegance. The people did not seem too bothered at all about what was happening around them. I felt like I could be myself in this city, that it could liberate me and allow me to be my true self.
On the same day we landed, I decided to meet up with an old friend from High School who had been in the city for some time. His name is Simba. We had last met in 2011 but had kept contact over the years. Things had changed, a lot of growth had taken place over the years, but our friendship had evolved with the times. Even though I was certain that meeting him would be a refresher, I was a bit anxious at the prospect, and I knew he was too.
As soon as I saw him, something told me that I had made the right choice. There he was – Simba – as small and bundled up as I remembered him, save for a tuft of beard on his chin and a slight mark of age on his lean face, small and skinny but somehow with a different sense of appeal now. I had only ever seen him in his uniform back at school, but on this day he was in a rather eccentric afro garb that gave him the look of an artist of some kind.
He stays in Observatory, a small town I figured to be mostly inhabited by students and small time artists, hippies and bohemians of all sorts. As we were walking down Lower Main Street, casually smoking a joint like nothing mattered, I noticed the coffee and art shops that gave the heart of this rather creative little space its eccentric flair. There were all kinds of bars too, antique shops, tattoo parlors, restaurants; the kind of accessories that gave this place it’s carefree and artistic appeal. I tried to tell Simba that he had changed but I couldn’t exactly point at the ‘change’ because outwardly he had remained the same little boy I used to have night long conversations on all that was ‘deep’ then. And yet he had refined his appeal ever since I last saw him and I wasn’t surprised much since Observatory seemed like the kind of place that would endow him with this new sense of being.
We got first to Scrumpy Jack’s, a small sports bar which had all kinds of flags and football memorabilia adorning it. We began conversing about the changes we had all gone through. I told him about my latest travels. He told me about his brief flirtations with “all the aberancy that makes this place what it is”. Simba had always had a way with language.
A few drinks later we went to a place called Ganesh where all the “leftist intellectuals” supposedly hung out. I looked around and struggled to understand what Simba was telling me. The place seemed dodgy and full of dirty hippies. But I decided to give it a chance.
He was right! The conversation buzzing around was low-key political and had sparks of anti popular subversion glittering in it. The music was the kind that you would find at the now defunct Book Cafe, slow and psychedelic, which drove you slowly towards an impossible euphoria. I wasn’t the only one enjoying it. All around I could see everyone slowly unraveling in the vibe. Everybody seemed to be in what seemed like their own world and yet we were all held coherently together by the music. The girls were not dismissive at all, they were instead rather interesting and exciting to engage with. One girl sat in my seat and when I reminded her that it was mine, she was like, “I know. I’m sorry but I am not moving. Do as you please”. We engaged in conversation and became friends.
I told Simba that I could feel the difference with this place, these people. It was not class, or race. It was more than these artificial separations. It was culture; it were the ideals of freedom of expression and being that everybody here had ascribed to, and it gave them the liberty that I too was now indulging in. It made them able to say, “Look I don’t always agree with you on everything but it is okay. Let us hang out”. I was then able to realize that life is not that bad after all and it is not going to stay the same so we might as well have fun with it. With culture there is a separation between ‘issues’ and fun. That was the definii moment, that was the perspective that I had been longing for all along and in Cape Town I had finally found it.
I remembered a scene I had watched from a movie called Love Comes Softly. The lead character kept insisting that they should carry ‘the big boxes’ of books to this foreign land so that through the books they could impact a sense of culture onto their kids. I had never experienced the meaning behind that statement until that night at Ganesh. For the first time in a while I felt truly at home. I felt that I belonged and that I wasn’t crazy and that there were people out there who were just like me. Because we are all crazy anyway, but it’s okay.
The journey was tough but definitely worth it. I am eternally grateful to Samson for the opportunity to find myself. As for now it is on to the next one. I need to get more culture. I gotta have it!