The past few days have been quite overwhelming for me. I have been waking up tired because of the depression , and barely getting any sleep owing to the anxiety. My appetite has been a joke, my skin has been breaking out.
But yesterday particularly stood out for me. I was too numb to get out of bed and go to class, so I just lay there until I summoned enough strength to at least take a shower. I desperately needed to recharge. I decided to curl my hair with some Isoplus styling gel, to try and make myself feel better. I figured if my hair looked decent, that would give me reason to smile and not want to walk into a speeding truck by the highway. While the gel was setting, I decided to reshape my eyebrows as the stray hairs I had cut a few weeks back were growing back. But of course I was in a mentally unstable state so I drifted off midshave, and there went a good portion of my eyebrow with the razor.
For someone who has always felt insecure about her appearance, that little mishap really threw me off. I only left the room when it was dark out. And this morning I struggled to draw on eyebrows (I’ve never been big on makeup). I felt absolutely terrible throughout the day. And then I had an intense conversation with my Mom which triggered a meltdown. After a brief crying session in the bathroom, I went to the mirror and realized my eyeliner had smudged, so I washed it off. It felt good. So I then washed the eyebrows off. There it was, my crooked eyebrow. I can’t believe I was crying over something so small when the rest of my face still looked very much okay.
Aren’t we all guilty of it though? Stressing over minute details, so much that you miss out on the beauty of the bigger picture? How many times have you punished yourself for being human? Be kind to yourself. Learn to laugh at your mistakes, and embrace your flaws.
You’re not beautiful in spite of your imperfections. And you’re also not beautiful merely because of them. You are beautiful because you are you and every single thing about you is a treasure to behold. So I will embrace my crooked eyebrow, because I am beautiful and enough, regardless.
Now I know I’m not the only woman who has occupied spaces that diminish her identity. You could be headlining an event and there’ll always be a man who will reduce you to “sweetie”. It’s not that we don’t find terms of endearment well, endearing, but there’s a place for everything. Allow me to recall my experience at this gender equity sensitization workshop two years ago. I was busy scanning the area, and then this guy walked up to me. He didn’t even give me the chance to finish a thought, I bet he loved the sound of his own voice. He started talking about what a cool workshop this was going to be and how he was more than willing to “show me around”. He went on about how a pretty girl like me shouldn’t be alone. He didn’t even ask for my name, and said he didn’t need to because I’d be his “shortie” soon (the irony in this, anyone who knows me knows I’m incredibly tall ). He even had the audacity to say I looked like a damsel in distress, so he’d come to “save” me. Of course had he actually given me the opportunity to speak, he’d have found out that this was the first workshop of its kind in the history of our organization and it had been my brainchild , that I was the chief facilitator and main speaker, and the reason why I was pacing up and down was to ensure that everything would be ready in time for the opening ceremony, also because I had to go and prepare to deliver the opening remarks. I am sick and tired of the damsel in distress narrative. Of course we’re social beings and we will need help here and there, but I am not incapacitated by virtue of my being a woman. I am not hopeless. I don’t need “saving”. I need to be given the space to express myself freely. I need to breathe without men thinking I’m panting for lack of attention. Humanize me. Accord me the basic dignity and respect due to every human being. And please, call me by my name. I am not your darling. I have not given you that privilege. My name is Chiedza and I am a blinding light. Call me by my name.
Chiedza I have a lot to tell you, I could never fill all the pages of all the books in the world, even if I tried. But first…
Allow me to apologize for not apologizing enough. Allow me to apologize for not loving you enough. I am sorry for not realizing how much I starved you of the love you so deserve. For punishing you, suffocating you.
I am sorry for all the times I didn’t water the precious flower that is you. For all the neglect, for failing to weed out your beautiful garden. For letting wild plants grow around you, choking you. Starving you.
I am sorry for all the wrong men I allowed you to entertain, because I didn’t know or do better. I apologize for all the lovers who came only to pluck your fragile petals, leaving you cold and bare. Who never watered you, or shone sweet sunshine to help you grow. For all the unrequited love I’ve made you give. For all the love that flowed out of the abundant streams of your soul, love that flowed to lovers who never poured into you. Lovers who let your streams dry up.
I’m sorry for keeping you in spaces that didn’t allow you to breathe. Spaces that killed you slowly. I’m sorry for all the people I allowed to take advantage of you, thinking if you were only a little bit kinder, you’d change them.
I have so much more to say to you, but I cannot indulge without freeing your spirit first. I have to undo all the hurt I have caused. Only then can I fully love you the way you deserve. Intensely. Unrestrictedly. Wholly.
From the very first time I laid my eyes on you, I knew. You were walking toward me, and I immediately felt an attraction so strong, as if you were a black hole and I was light. So I had to pull away. I quickly looked away. Such intense magnetism, such as I’ve never felt before. Maybe it was the half smile , or the way your dimples shyly came out. Maybe it was the way you carried your slim frame about, recklessly but with an air of elegance all the while. Or was it the little frown that accompanied the smile? Maybe it was everything about you. I can’t remember what your first words were. My eyes were too busy scanning the details of your face. I was drawn to your hat, it was a beret I think. I can’t even recollect it properly, because my eyes were set on your face. I hope I wasn’t too intense, opening up the deepest darkest places of my being so quickly and with such ease. I wasn’t looking to find a home in you, but you did feel quite homely. And so there I was, unraveling, layer after layer. Stripping myself bare, I showed you my naked soul. I’ve always found nudity to be awkward, but not with you. My bare soul felt comfortable with you peeping into its nakedness. At first, I avoided looking into your eyes. I feared there lay an abyss I’d fall into, never to find my way out again. But something softened inside of me, and I looked. I fell in gently at first, then I tumbled, and tumbled. And I never want to make my way out of that abyss.
If you asked me to retrace our steps, I would fail. Every step we took, I was stuck on you. It felt as if we were moving through the world in this bubble. Everytime I close my eyes, I see you, I feel you. The suppleness of your skin, your mellow inviting scent. I am drawn to you, and there is no pulling back now. I have become a melting pot of passion. You are my desire. A fire burns within. The fire burns at my very being, but it’s a beautiful pain. This heart throbs intensely, waiting for you to stake your claim.
It is 0520am. I have finally gotten off the bus to look for commuters to take me to my Grandmother’s place, a place I will call home for the foreseeable future. The bus arrived in the bustling city of Mutare around 4am, and as per the company safety policy, passengers have to wait to get off when the sun comes out. My bags are not too heavy, and I happen to be quite a strong young lady. I carry them with grace over to the commuter rank. I put the bags down as I look for a commuter.
A group of young men are getting off one as I approach. One of them, ever so pale, casts a long glance at me. “You are beautiful”, he stutters in fluid Shona. I smile and look away, because women are conditioned to be nice and polite, lest our assertiveness rile men to respond violently. Then again, this politeness is misinterpreted as being welcoming. As if it is a free pass for men to access my body. What a wild world we live in. He asks for my number and I politely decline. His friends are egging him on, and he gets a little more aggressive in his approach. I can feel my throat dry up. I am unsure of their intentions so I rush to secure my bags and they laugh, saying they are not thieves. He proceeds to touch my face and at this point I feel I cannot do much about it. I don’t want to let go of my bags, incase they’re actual thieves.
So I just take it. His cold dry hand running over my cheek. I can feel spit accumulating in my mouth, hot and acrid. I gently tell him to stop. He and his friends laugh. I finally spot a commuter going my way and rush to get in, even though there’s no one inside. I just assumed I would be safer there, and the conductor looks less harmful. I get in the front, and that pest from earlier on holds the door so I cannot close it. He presses against my body and breathes in my face, panting. “Give me your number”. Usually I would. Women have been killed and raped for not being nice enough to “comply”.
But not today. I am sleep deprived and I have zero strength in me to coddle a man. A self imposing ticking testosterone bomb. Not today. So I refuse, and this time I’m assertive and bold. He does not take it well. His friends laugh at him, so he presses harder against me. I get bolder, and I push back. Not today. He comes back and we get into the same push-press routine. As soon as he leaves, I lock the door. The next time he comes, he struggles with the handle, only to realize the door is locked. He resorts to banging on the window. It is 0538am and I am already tired. Womanhood is a curse.
You are beautiful, bountiful and blessed. You carry on your elegant shoulders the hopes of a lost people
And Mother Africa pleads with urgency For you to report to your destined duty.
You were made for greatness and it awaits you with the pure zeal of a newborn babe. Only arise and you will conquer.
Your beauty outshines the gloom about, And your radiance seeps through your scars. Your tears are trickles of molten gold, And your eyes, smoothened diamonds.
Only step out of your hiding place and set the world ablaze with your luminous allure. You are the warmth that drives out the chill. You are cinnamon, coriander, almond and dill. Arise, Young Brown Woman, Arise!
I have always been extremely awkward in social situations, primarily because of my excessive self consciousness . Interacting with new people is even worse, what with the lack of familiarity and whatnot. There is still something hardwired in our being that pushes us to explore others, even as we seek to understand our own selves, and it is this awkward yearning that pushes us to go beyond familiar territory. It is my wish that through this blog, you will be able to fully explore the peculiarity of my being and that this will also help you in your journey of self discovery. Happy hunting x