“I knew who I was this morning, but I’ve changed a few times since then.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass
I found my bliss in Bulawayo,
surrounded by a gaggle of ducks,
some noisy bantams and a dog named Judy…
Somehow, I knew from an early age that I was different,
a dreamer, an artist, a seer of visions.
(not recommended in a household of intellectuals)…
I was a child of nature’s wonderment
and spent many happy hours outdoors.
I clearly remember the first time I planted seeds
in my own corner of the garden,
the utter joy at seeing them sprout
from the hard-dry earth.
Everything seemed like a miracle back then,
alive with possibility…
The night skies were spectacular in Bulawayo
and I would lie on the crisp yellow grass
in the evenings watching the stars.
I had a sense that I was not alone in the vastness of everything
and a loving presence was always with me…
I was not popular in school, just a shy, dull and not very bright little girl
or that’s what I told myself…
I recall picking daisies and wild grasses in the garden
and putting them in a jar to decorate my room.
I loved climbing the giant tree outside our kitchen,
riding my bike to school in the rain
and listening to the latest pop records
while my brother played DJ in the next room.
I fell in love with all my brothers’ friends
but sadly it was unrequited…
Living in this magical Universe, I was untouched by the harsh realities of the world.
Though I deeply desired to be famous,
I shrunk away from too much attention,
actually feeling like a lost child, misplaced, and really quite odd!
I took up ballet when I was a little older,
I loved to dance, but I gave it up because
the other girls were prettier and slimmer than I was,
and I felt thoroughly out of place…
I loved tea parties with lashings of cake, Sunday lunches,
and lying next to the pool day-dreaming.
We were only allowed to drink coca-cola on weekends.
I still love the sweet, fizzy taste on a hot afternoon,
it elicits memories of a time when life was less complicated…
We had a kind, gentle man who cleaned our house,
he made the beds and did all the domestic chores.
His quiet, humble presence made me love him like a Father.
When I got home from school
he would make marmite and egg sandwiches
and we would listen to the radio together.
Though it was forbidden, I remember sneaking
into his room just to take a peek.
It was cold and bare with dark walls and a spring bed.
There was a prima stove on a tiny table in the corner.
I couldn’t comprehend why we lived in relative comfort
while he lived in an impoverished setting
drinking his tea from a jam jar…
(it makes me cry just thinking about it)
I was just a child unaware of the atrocities of that time,
and yet he was one of the most beautiful, grateful, humble human beings I have ever met…
We had to leave Bulawayo abruptly when I was about fifteen,
but my heart is still buried there, in the dusty earth…