A Love letter to Zimbabwe
Oh, Zimbabwe! Country of my heart! I don’t know anymore where I stand with you. Could you ever love me like I love you? Or is this love I bear for you that worst kind of love - unrequited?
I have loved you through so much! I have laboured with you, travailed on my knees, wept for you. I have turned my back on you, and sought to embrace others - and still found my way back to you. And yet still my heart is torn apart by you. Still, for the sake of my sanity, I must find a way to leave your suffocating embrace.
But walking away is like tearing off strips of my skin, or like dashing my heart against a rock.
You birthed me. All that I’ve come to be is because of you. You taught me to crawl. My memories of early mornings, the sun creeping over the mountain, burning away the mist: that was you, Zimbabwe. You gave me milk - in small packets, with animals printed on them, in three languages, so I could talk like you. You taught me about meandering bush paths, about which berries not to pick.
Do you remember that bridge? Yes, the rope bridge! Yes, remember how I walked onto it - stumbled, really - and how when I realised I was over the water, and the bridge was swinging, I began to quake? And you laughed, because little children ran across it all the time. And do you remember Easter, the wetness of the earth, that thick, dark red mud? And the nippy mornings - oh, and my breath misting in front of my mouth, and my nose running as I skipped to school!
But that was before. Because things grew dark between you and me, Zimbabwe. You began to turn away from me. I didn’t understand what I might have done wrong. You began to starve me. I learnt how to chase after the truck carrying mealie meal, instead of going to work. I watched as you took my savings away. I said nothing as you made me sleep in a queue outside the bank, to take the little I had left. I fell sick, and the hospital told me there were no gloves, no medicines, no sheets or blankets for the cold nights. I still said nothing when my brothers and sisters saw what you were becoming, and left.
And then one day, I, too, left. It wasn’t for their reasons at all; I just wanted to see. My heart was still with you - is always with you! And so, when I had seen, I came back running to you! And for a while our love was like in the old days; we were so happy in one another.
But, Zimbabwe, is that a cruel streak in you? Do you enjoy my pain? Because you were soon up to your old tricks again - no, worse! Now you beat me openly, in front of the neighbours. Do you remember when MaNxumalo from next door had to come and see what was going on? You stopped pretending to look after me - no, now I had to use my own wits, my own smarts to survive.
Well, Zimbabwe, this is where we are now. I have left you yet again. That’s right, this is a Dear John letter. By the time you read it, I’ll be gone. But Zimbabwe, my heart, I will be back. I just need to find my sanity, find my feet again. I need to find what I lost while trying to hold our love together. I need to do it for us, so something may be retrieved of what we had. I need to do it for the future.
I haven’t abandoned you. The insecurity was impossible to live with. Not knowing how to keep it together was killing me. But oh, Beloved, I will be back; this I promise you. And even while I’m here, my eyes remain on you, and my ears always listen for news of you.
It will be better. One day, all of our pain will be in the past. One day, we can sit and reminisce about the past, without being torn apart. We will be together again, Zimbabwe.
Until then, I remain, always, yours!